The Most Durable Automobiles on U.S. Roads
Many believe that buying cars beyond a certain mileage threshold just isn’t worth it. After so many miles are put on — six digits seems to be the standard point of no return — the wear and tear on the car and the subsequent repairs may outweigh the benefits of buying a used model in the first place. However, not all cars are created equal, and for some vehicles out there, the mark of 100,000 miles is just a warmup.
Automotive shopping and research resource Mojo Motors recently conducted a study to seek out what cars still made good buys with the highest mileage in their respective classes. “We analyzed almost 300,000 vehicles on Mojo Motors from the model years 2002 to 2012 to find the highest mileage used vehicles,” the site said.
“These model year requirements kept out vehicles like the Chrysler 200, Hyundai Genesis, or Buick LaCrosse from being included in our study, but using this guide should give you a better idea about the models to consider while shopping for a car.”
Mojo Motors broke up its findings into categories from compact cars through pickups and SUVs, and it only included used vehicles for sale at a dealership. “This means the vehicles we looked at retain enough of their value for a dealer to resell them and make a profit,” it explained. See the cars that the site found to be the best cars to buy with higher mileage after the jump.
Subaru Impreza: Subaru’s entry-level hatchback or sedan still features all-wheel drive and the brand’s renowned ability to perform in rough conditions, along with Subaru’s stellar record of vehicular longevity. The sedan is all around a great car, but shoot for the hatch if possible, as it’s far more versatile and more fun to drive in the eyes of many.
Honda Civic: Honda’s reputation precedes it. Since the 1970s, the company has built its image on reliability and longevity, and there are jokes implying that with a Honda, you’ll be driving a chassis and engine long after the body has deteriorated and disappeared. Any needed maintenance costs will likely be minimal too, so that’s another positive.
Toyota Corolla: Like the Civic, the Corolla is reliable, fuel efficient, and for those reasons is a global favorite. “They run on a similar production cycle as well with the ninth generation Corolla produced from 2000-2008 and the 10th generation from 2009 to 2013,” Mojo Motors noted. “Buying either one is a shrewd choice.”
Kia Rio: We were surprised to see the Kia Rio listed out here, as was Mojo Motors, but their research indicated that despite the Rio’s cheap and tin-canny nature, the Rio was one of the highest mileage cars available. It’s smaller than the Civic or the Corolla, but that translates into better fuel efficiency and a cheaper MSRP.
Hyundai Accent: Along with the Rio, the Hyundai Accent doesn’t hold a lot of weight as being a quality, well-made car, but the proof is in the pudding: they’re staying on the roads longer. The two cars are very similar, “so if you’re deciding between an Accent with high miles and Rio, it will ultimately come down to what’s available on the used market near you and which design you prefer,” Mojo said.
Acura TL: Upscale, comfortable, and backed by Honda’s reputation for reliability, the TL is a safe bet for lasting luxury without having to deal with the astronomical repair bills high-end vehicles usually incur. Mojo notes that it looked at the second, third, and fourth generation TLs, and added that the TL is the only luxury midsize car that was able to top the highest mileage analysis.
Volkswagen Passat: Volkswagen’s production cycles last longer than the leading Accords and Camrys, and Mojo found that, when looking at the fourth generation B5 Passat (1997-2004) and the fifth generation B6 Passat (2005-2010), owners were holding on to them longer as well.
Honda Accord: The Honda Accord is America’s second favorite car (after the Camry), but the last couple months have seen it overtake its rival to become the best-selling car on occasion. Mojo notes that it is one of the most “Followed” on its site, the longest lasting, most reliable and well designed cars anyone can buy, used or new.
Nissan Altima: The 2002 model year Nissan Altima was the brick foundation on which Nissan has built its most popular model in the U.S., and it’s among the most followed and researched cars on Mojo’s site. The car ages well, Mojo noted, and it expects the newer models to follow suit.
Toyota Camry: For many, the Toyota Camry defines the midsize sedan segment. It’s affordable, efficient, comfortable, and can stick around for a long, long time. Repairs are affordable and parts are readily available, making the Camry easy on the bank account in every way imaginable.
Subaru Legacy: Like the Impreza, but bigger — the Legacy offers a more refined ride and more features, but still underpinned by Subaru’s excellent all-wheel drive and penchant for longevity. “It isn’t quite a luxury car like the TL, but it isn’t quite an entry-level car like the Accord or Altima. The Legacy sits somewhere in between, but it drives and looks much different,” Mojo says.
Ford Crown Victoria: There’s a reason the Crown Vic was so popular among cab companies and police departments — the things last for bloody ever. You’d be hard pressed to find a career that involves more driving than cabbie or cop, and with the demise of the Crown Vic, it leaves huge shoes to fill. You can still buy them on the after market, as “not all were given the fleet treatment.”
Lincoln Town Car: Like the Crown Vic but swaddled in more leather and nicer surfaces, the Town Car was also a fleet favorite. Politicians and higher-end escort services for discerning travelers (and maybe both at the same time) preferred them for a more personal touch in transportation. Says Mojo, “The Town Car is reminiscent of a different time. A time when big V8 engines in an equally big car didn’t mean inefficiency, it meant being American.”
Toyota Avalon: The Camry is one of the most popular Toyotas, and the Avalon is similar, just bigger. It combines Toyota’s longevity and ease of maintenance with features and finish that rival a Lexus. Like the Town Car and Crown Vic, the Avalon has enjoyed lots of success in fleet use, making it a proven vehicle for higher mileage.
Chevrolet Impala: A fixture at rental agencies around the country, “the older Impalas we studied were built on the GM W platform which were used for over 26 years,” Mojo Motors said. “The older Impalas might not be pretty compared to its newest generation, but it makes up for it with low resale prices and longevity to boot.”
Chrysler 300: If you’re looking for a cheaper play on some large-car muscle, the Chrysler 300 has two V8 options in addition to its V6, all of which power the rear wheels. Mojo notes that the 300 won’t necessarily be as economical but in its research found the 300 to be among the longest-lasting large cars on the market. Resale values are on the lower side, too, so plan to buy it and keep it.
Volvo XC90: No crossover got more miles over the vehicle’s lifespan than the XC90. Mojo points out that 10 years of producing the XC90 on the same platform didn’t rattle Volvo because there was nothing broke, and hence nothing needed fixing. What did change over that decade-plus period were its standard and optional engines, so a little homework is advised before snagging a long-life XC90.
Hyundai Santa Fe: Deemed “the immortal crossover” by Mojo, the Santa Fe has the good fortune of sharing many parts with the Sonata and thus benefits from wide availability and low-cost maintenance in the second generation (from 2007 on). Second-gen Santa Fes also feature another row of seating, making them durable haulers that are also spacious.
Toyota Highlander: The first generation of Highlander (2000) is still on the road, which made this Toyota crossover an obvious choice for highest mileage cars still kicking. Second-generation models, which debuted in 2008, join the previous model as vehicles that “will last long enough to drive the kids’ carpool to elementary school and then move them into college.”
Honda Pilot: Like the Highlander, the Honda Pilot seems to run forever on its sturdy platform and reliable engine. That power plant is a 3.5-liter V6, which is the same winner keeping so many Accords on the road. Coincidence?
Honda CR-V: This popular Honda crossover is the Civic to the Pilot’s Accord. Obvious advantages are the shared parts, number of mechanics familiar with the engines, and their high standard of reliability. Mojo points out that the drawback here is trying to pry away an old CR-V from its owner. People just don’t sell them — they can’t do better in the price range.
Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe/GMC Yukon: Mojo wouldn’t rave about the driving experience of the Suburban, Tahoe, or Yukon but the editors were quick to note “they will drive you and your entire extended family to the end of the world and back.” By the time the trip is over, you will probably have spent your life savings on gasoline, but this list isn’t about economy. It’s about survivial.
Ford Expedition: Don’t like GM cars but want a three-row, American-branded SUV? The Ford Expedition is the answer if a long-lasting vehicle is the goal. The jumbo version that challenges the Suburban for overall mass is the Expedition EL, available from the third generation (2007) on.
Toyota Sequoia: Toyota proved it could also go big with a vehicle built on the brand’s pickup truck platform. In the Sequoia, the automaker matched the size of the Detroit vehicles without sacrificing anything in lifespan. They also drive forever.
Ford F-250: Among the least likely to be killed pickups, the Ford F-250 bully was “the longest lasting, highest mileage vehicle you can find on the road” that dealers will consider selling. Mojo recommends studying each engine type to find the ultimate warrior among the many generations, but any starting point is a good one on the longevity front.
Chevrolet Silverado 2500/GMC Sierra 2500: Equally capable of “surviving the zombie apocalypse,” the heavy duty GM pickups are near the top in terms of long lifespans and endless mileage. Mojo used the first and second generations as a guide.
Ram 2500: Second , third, and fourth generation Ram 2500 heavy duty trucks also have “die-hard” stamped somewhere on the body. Mojo suggests going for the Ram to save a few dollars on the secondhand big truck market that is also dominated by Chevy and Ford.
Ford- F-150: Always able to punch above its weight, the F-150 managed to muscle its way onto a high-mileage list populated mostly by super duties. The 10th, 11th, and 12th generations got the Mojo treatment for this list. Popularity and longevity share equal billing in consumers’ love for these trucks.
Dodge Grand Caravan: Like many vehicles on this list, the Grand Caravan has a twin rebadged with a more refined interior, and it’s called the Chrysler Town & Country. This singular platform drives the only two minivans in production from U.S. automakers (well, sort of), but both are among the highest mileage vehicles in the class.
Honda Odyssey: Mojo recommends choosing a minivan like the Odyssey carefully because “you will probably have it for a while.” Second, third, and fourth generation Odysseys are still plowing on, hauling kids to soccer practice and doing everything else Honda owners ask of them. Judging by their lifespans, the Odyssey tends to become a fixture in a family’s life.
Kia Sedona: As usual, Kia provides the value option among minivans when long life is the priority. Cheap, built to last, and able to carry eight people sums up Mojo’s take on the Kia Sedona in its second and third generations. In fact, not being a household name in minivans may give Sedona shoppers another advantage on the used market.
Toyota Sienna: Anyone looking for an all-wheel-drive minivan that refuses to die must head directly to the nearest Toyota dealer. Compromising on fuel economy is a part of the bargain for all-wheel drive, but this feature goes a long way in cold climates where slick roads are the norm. Second and third generation Siennas had the longest lives in Mojo’s study.