What the Cars That Last Beyond 200,000 Miles Have in Common

Back three quarter view of the 2008 Toyota Sequoia SUV

2008 Toyota Sequoia | Toyota

Every auto consumer goes into a purchase with a certain set of expectations. If you plan to lease a luxury crossover for a few years, something like reliability will take a back seat to style and performance.

On the other hand, if you buy a family vehicle you plan on keeping for a decade, you’ll want to make sure it starts every morning and handles the abuse it’s certain to endure. That can be trickier that just picking the car or truck at the top of the reliability list.

As it turns out, some vehicles not known for reliability have ended up among the models that regularly last past 200,000 miles. Yet you can identify a number of things the longest-lasting models had in common, starting with the predominant vehicle type.

1. You don’t find many crossovers among them.

  • It may take a few more years to see which crossovers last.

While crossovers are all the rage on today’s auto market, you won’t find any on the iSeeCars studies of models clocking 200,000 or more miles from the last three years. (You will see the occasional Subaru wagon doing a bit better than the average.)

It remains to be seen which of the smaller, car-based utility vehicles have staying power. (Ford Escape Hybrid has shown promise). So far, none have been turning up in the high-mileage studies, though a few by Toyota have been among the most reliable of the decade.

2. Durability of truck platforms

2011 Chevy Silverado

2011 Chevrolet Silverado | General Motors

  • Pickup trucks and body-on-frame SUVs regularly rank high.

While car-based utility vehicles have been nowhere to be found, truck-based SUVs and the pickups they are based on have dominated the list of vehicles clocking 200,000 miles or better. In 2018, the top seven were all body-on-frame SUVs. (No. 8 was a pickup truck.)

Four of the five models that regularly topped 300,000 miles were also in this group, with Toyota Sequoia (Tundra) and Ford Expedition (F-150) leading the pack. Most run on full-size platforms, including the Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL.

3. Toyota is a common denominator.

  • In both long-term reliability and high-mileage lists, Toyota always places many vehicles.

Whether you go by Consumer Reports reliability or real-world data from iSeeCars, you’re going to find multiple Toyota vehicles in the top 5-10 on every list. In fact, it’s the only brand that can make that claim. (Honda comes close, though it does not place in the top 10.)

Going back to 2015, when sedans and minivans dominated the longest-lasting cars lists, you’d find the Avalon and Accord at the top.

4. The odds are stacked against luxury models.

Front three quarter view of green Porsche 356C

1964 Porsche 356C | Mecum

  • The costs of long-term luxury-car ownership can be prohibitive.

Many of the most reliable and longest-lasting vehicles are quite expensive. (Just check what a loaded Toyota Sequoia or Ford Expedition cost new.) With that in mind, it makes sense that families would hold onto them for a long time to continue racking up miles.

Yet you don’t see any representation from luxury brands, and it makes sense in a few ways. For starters, parts and general maintenance would be much more expensive for these models. Meanwhile, people are less likely to drive a luxury car as many miles as a workhorse — they’re just not used for that purpose.

However, that’s not to say they can’t. If you look at the vehicles that passed 1 million miles, you’ll find a Volvo and Mercedes at the top of the pack. (A 1964 Porsche joined them on the list.) When money is no object, luxury cars don’t disappoint.

5. Owner care and maintenance

  • After the purchase, there’s only one sure way to extend the life of a vehicle.

Choosing a reliable car or truck can put you on the road toward 200,000 miles or greater. However, the real work begins when you take the car home. If you ignore oil changes and let the vehicle run without regular maintenance, you’re likely shortening its lifespan.

Racers and professional drivers also recommend rustproofing and replacing a car’s exhaust (which controls temperature) to make a vehicle last longer. The common theme is being proactive: No one who kept a car over 500,000 miles said they let problems linger.

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