Does Costa Rica have cars?

Every country on Earth has cars. Even the Vatican has cars. Easter Island has cars. Bhutan has cars. Costa Rica has a "loco" number of cars, trucks, semi trailers, motorcycles, mopeds, tractors... even a few (not many fortunately) tuk tuks or autorickshaws.

The most popular manufacturer is probably Toyota as it is seen to have the best reliability and resale value. Cars hold their value in Costa Rica far longer than in many other countries. A year 2000 Toyota 4 Runner mid life in moderate condition, no extras will easily sell for $10,000 USD - maybe more.

Gas is similarly priced to Canadian prices so is significantly more than American pricing but less than Europe in general. Stations are plentiful and diesel is available in most stations as well. Even a few electric plug in stations are cropping up for the few electric cars in the country.

Trucks have become very popular with the most popular being the Toyota Hilux - despite its expense. It is very popular to load up the truck with the extended picnic and go to the beach!

The most popular vehicle makers tend to be Japanese, Korean, Chinese and German. Chinese cars especially are filling a budget niche and proving to be fuel efficient. Most vehicles sold in Costa Rica do not have the range of extras found in northern countries. Often very similar cars will be rebranded with different names as they have smaller engines (like 2.5 litre four cylinder trucks) that would not be popular in geographically larger countries. The other reason for this is because vehicles with lots of "gadgets" get hit with a much larger luxury import or purchase tariff. Getting parts for some of the more exotic items can be a challenge.

Driving around Costa Rica can be a different experience. The driver exam is very strict and challenging but as soon as that is passed, chaos reigns. Drivers almost never pull over if they are driving very slow and intersections are treated as a bumper car derby with honest effort given to see how many cars can fit in the intersection when the light changes to red. Of course this bogs down traffic in the communities.

The roads have improved substantially from the time of the road from Monteverde to Tileran which had the name posted "Dude... where's my transmission?!?!!?!?!?" as the road name! Still, vehicle actions on the road should not be predicted as driving attention is very random. It is normal to see vehicles stopped in the middle of the road, highway, blind turn etc... At night, especially on weekends, not everyone may be sober either and cell phone use while driving is almost 100% whether it be hands on, or hands free.

If you are coming to Costa Rica, you have many rental options and the cars are in generally good condition.

In short, there are lots of cars in Costa Rica.... too many.


yes, we do, but they cost about 50% more because of taxes, and nobody knows where that money goes since pretty much all of the roads are like the moon's surface, also expect to pay about 30%/40% more for fuel, because... yes! you guessed it, taxes!


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