The small batteries placed in a compact car have high energy demands beyond starting with air conditioning, power windows, sound systems and other added accessories. Plus, there's hardly any room under the hood. I am sure the heat is another factor. I also think the brakes are small as well. Order a V6, and it also requires more power to stop. A stick shift helps, but still my brakes went fast.
My son once sat without thinking on the hood of our brand new Accord. Put a really large dent in it. It's all to keep the weight down. The less metal and less weight, the higher MPG. Also a lot more plastics in cars.
With trucks I do not see it as much of an issue. I put the largest batteries that fit in my trays when replacing. I also use a 3 Amp battery maintainer (not a charger) in all my vehicles. I run the small plug through the grille for quick connect without opening the hoods. Using one all the time, I have gotten up to 6-7 years out of a quality battery in my domestics.
These days you can't get 6-7 years out of an entire Toyota, let alone a battery.
We can go back and forth all day long making comments that bear little fact or reality. But at the end of the day, the facts still speak for themselves, and the facts ARE that Toyota is still way up at the top of the reliability list. Look it up. It's easily accessible online. Everything else is merely hearsay.
And for the comments about small batteries in compacts and dents in the hood? Please. My compact Toyota has the same battery in it that it came with 12 years ago. The sheet metal is no thinner than any of the other manufacturers.
I had a new Honda Accord, not a Tercel. You should be in the Guinness World Records if you have a car battery still charged and 12 years old. What brand is it? I was going to buy a new Optima Gel for 200 for my car. Your battery sounds like the best I have ever heard of.
Lastly, you could sit on the center of your hood, but I highly advise otherwise. In fact I wouldn't sit on any late model vehicle's hood, import or domestic, made today. I hope no one else heeds your suggestion that it is fine to do so. Another highly improbable comment.
Back in 2004, my 1990 Geo Prizm (same as the Toyota Corolla) was clobbered by an 18 wheeler on the Mass Turnpike. The truck driver changed lanes, but didn't see me. He hit me real hard at over 55mph, the lugs on his wheel tore through the sheet metal on the driver's door, and the truck bashed in the door and front fender. He spun me around across the highway, and I ended up facing the wrong way in the left lane, coming to rest against a Jersey Barrier. The 18 wheeler was undriveable as it lost a wheel, and the fiberglass from the cab was torn up, however even though the Prizm was a total loss according to my insurance company (as the body damage exceeded the value of the car), it wasn't even knocked out of line, and I was able to drive myself to the hospital in it to be checked over (when I got home, I even found a fiberglass piece of the truck's cab embedded in my fender).
The driver's door was bashed in to the point that I couldn't roll down the window, yet the car still drove fine. I was able to still drive the car until I sold it to a young man who planned on doing the necessary body repairs himself (a new front fender & driver's door), as the Prizm still rode and drove fine.
When I was hit, and was spinning across the pike during afternoon rush hour, I was sure I was going to die, however other than a sore neck and back, I suffered no serious injuries. Folks can say what they will about these cars, but the little Prizm saved my life. It was a fantastic little car, and definitely was NOT made out of tin.
You can rest a bit easy vs the rapid fire import defense mechanism. Domestics have lighter sheet metal on most for the fuel savings. They have air bags too. The bodies may not last as long as the past. I garage mine anyway.
Battery life depends on a lot of things; some which can be controlled, others that can't.
First of all, and this is an easy thing - keep the contacts cleaned and lubed. I always keep a thin layer of oil on the contacts. This ensures there's good connections and the battery is optimally charged.
Secondly, weather plays a big role. I used to live on the east coast. The severe swings in weather are bad for batteries. So batteries didn't last as long there. Cold weather in particular kills batteries. I now live in California where the weather is around 65-70 year-round. It's not uncommon for batteries to last a long time. In fact, last year I had to watch my neighbor's house while they were gone on an extended stay overseas. One of the things I did was start their truck every week to keep the battery charged, etc etc. The battery in that thing was from 1998! Only reason I know this was because the battery actually died the 4th or 5th week I started the truck. At that point the battery was 13 years old!
I've consecutively owned 3 trucks in the past 26 years; 2 Fords and 1 Toyota. None were any more or less reliable than the others. All well maintained, used in SW & Western US, on & off road. I'm still with the 11 year old Toyota, but it has not been without costly issues. QC issues are plentiful all around, and in today's world, parts sourcing is global for every manufacturer, regardless of final assembly location.
IMHO, no 1/2 ton truck of the last decade can take the punishment of what was produced in the not so distant past. For various reasons, they've become too much like cars and less like what I define as a truck.
1976 Ford F-150 Custom 4x4 HD suspension (custom order).
1986 Ford F-250 XLT 4x4 with 1-ton axles (custom order).
2001 Toyota Tacoma XTracab SR5 4x4 TRD Off-Road pkg.
My best friend's Toyota required a new battery after two years. The entire car was worn out and replaced (by a new GM) after four years. I really don't see how that can be called "reliable" by any stretch of the imagination.
Best investment again is around 30 dollars for a 3 amp battery maintainer. I have 5 cars, and 2 are show cars. I have my plug at the grille and never open the hoods. Gas is high, and to turn a car on once a week is actually a waste. Unless you are running synthetic, the standard oil gathers moisture on each cold start. I take my cars out every 3 weeks, driving them. Keeps the seals from drying out, causing leaks, prevents flat spotting the tires, and car is fully warmed to keep moisture out of the oil. And dries out the exhaust. If you get 6-7 years using a maintainer, I recommend buying a new battery. 13 years I have never heard of!!
I do not oil my batteries; I use battery grease or even Vaseline. I like Battery Tender maintainers. Use them on my boat and my HD Night Train. On motorcycles I buy the 1.5 amp version and hide the pigtail quick connect. The connector has a cover to keep water out when you drive your vehicles. Make sure it says maintainer, not charger when you intend to plug in round the clock. My batteries are always at 100 percent. Pull the connector and start your vehicle.