When you’re looking for a vehicle that’s a real keeper, you have some options. New and used car shoppers will never go wrong checking Consumer Reports’ most reliable models of recent years. Without question, feedback from owners and extensive expert testing makes the ratings worth your trust.
However, you can’t simply judge a car by a reliability score. You also have to see how buyers respond to owning the vehicle. In some cases, you’ll find consumers ditching a car after a single year of ownership. Auto research firm iSeeCars.com can help during this part of the buying process. By seeing which models consumers tossed aside and which they kept for the long haul, you have the information to make a sound decision.
In a study released January 2018, iSeeCars dug deep to identify models Americans kept for 15 years or longer. Looking at 650,000 used cars sold in 2017, researchers pulled out the vehicles buyers refused to sell for the past decade and a half. Here are the 15 cars people held onto the longest.
15. Volkswagen Golf
The Volkswagen brand experienced many ups and downs in recent years (to put it mildly), but owners of the past few decades definitely loved their Golfs. According to the data, 10.6% of Golf owners who sold in 2017 had their car 15 years or more. That’s something no other regular compact car could claim. iSeeCars.com CEO Phong Ly explained why:
“The Golf appeals to a wide range of demographics by being a compact car with significant cargo space,” Ly said. “[And] it seems to attract practical consumers who make the necessary repairs to keep it on the road for as long as possible.”
14. Nissan Frontier
The Nissan Frontier got a major overhaul in 2005, which has proven to be its last. Still, consumers seem to love the model just fine. By the time many sold their trucks in 2017, they’d racked up well 10 over years and countless miles on them. In fact, 11% had held onto their Frontier for at least 15 years. If you find one in good condition, it’s a candidate to reach 300,000 miles.
13. Subaru Forester
When Consumer Reports ranks brands every year, Subaru usually lands close to the top. The combination of standard all-wheel drive and practicality got more Americans buying this brand in 2017 than ever before. But the love for Subaru was not all new. Some 11.5% of Forester owners held onto their cars over 15 years before selling last year. That’s near twice the average for other car buyers.
12. Toyota Camry
There’s no mystery surrounding the popularity of the Toyota Camry in America. Since 2002, Camry received the top reliability rating from Consumer Reports every single year. Owners from the previous era felt no different about the midsize sedan. At least 11.5% of those who sold in 2017 held onto their Camry for 15 years. Since 1988, Toyota has built this car in Kentucky, and it’s one of the most American cars you can find on the road these days.
11. Acura MDX
Consumers have considered the Acura MDX a keeper since its first year on the market (2000). The premium version of Honda Pilot always got solid ratings from Consumer Reports, and the iSeeCars data shows buyers don’t let them go once they take one home. Some 11.6% had reached the 15-year mark in their original owner’s hands when they sold in 2017.
10. Toyota Avalon
Since 2010, Toyota Avalon received the top reliability rating every year but once. In the previous decade, the full-size sedan was equally flawless, according to consumer feedback. Apparently, people don’t change cars when they have one that runs this well. That’s how 11.7% of Avalon owners who sold theirs in 2017 had held onto them for 15 years.
9. Honda CR-V
You can add Honda CR-V to the list of vehicles you’d expect to find here. In its 21 years on the U.S. market, CR-V never scored worse than “above average” in reliability. Owners recognized that quality immediately in this model, which was the first small SUV Honda made. Nearly 12% of CR-V owners had owned their vehicles for 15 years when they sold them last year.
8. Toyota Tacoma
If you run an informal search of auto sites, you’re likely to find more Toyota Tacomas with 300,000 miles on them than any other car. Models produced in the early 2000s had a reputation for being bulletproof, and the heavy workload people put their trucks through explains why. However, we’re still surprised so many Tacoma owners (12.4%) who sold in 2017 had theirs over 15 years. No midsize pickup from Detroit even topped 5%.
7. Toyota Sequoia
When iSeeCars ran the numbers to find the models that racked up at least 200,000 miles, Toyota Sequoia was No. 2 on the list. Unquestioned reliability got Sequoia owners there, and it’s the same reason so many kept the SUV over 15 years. A remarkable 12.8% of owners who sold in 2017 had already hit that mark. Toyota delivered for three straight generations with this model.
6. Honda Odyssey
As we veer toward the top five, you likely noticed the dominance of Japanese automakers. iSeeCars’ CEO said he wasn’t surprised by that outcome. “Japanese automakers are known for setting quality and reliability standards,” Phong Ly said. “[Therefore,] it is no surprise that they are the most likely to reach the fifteen-year milestone.” In Honda Odyssey’s case, nearly 13% of the models sold last year were in the owners’ hands for 15 years.
5. Toyota RAV4
Whether you go by sales, reliability, or owner devotion, Toyota RAV4 is one of the biggest success stories of this century. In fact, the crossover topped every vehicle but the Detroit pickups with 407,594 sales in 2017 (fourth). However, as the iSeeCars stats show, RAV4 fans have been around for decades. An impressive 14.3% who sold theirs in 2017 had held them at least 15 years. That was two times better than the market average.
4. Toyota Prius
If we’re speaking about passenger cars (i.e., excluding trucks and SUVs), no model can beat Toyota Prius for reliability or long-term ownership. With the 2018 model getting another top rating from Consumer Reports, that made it 12 straight years for Prius. Meanwhile, a full 15% of those who sold their hybrid in 2017 had owned them at least 15 years. Now that Prius Prime is on the move, there’s little that can stop this nameplate.
3. Toyota Tundra
While the midsize Tacoma made a strong showing, Toyota’s full-size pickup blew the rest of the pack away. Compared to Ford F-150 (6.3%), Ram, (6.3%) or even Chevy Silverado (8.4%), Tundra dominated this pickup segment for long-term ownership. Nearly 16% of Tundra owners who sold in 2017 had held onto their trucks for 15 years or longer. In the hardest-worked vehicle class, that speaks for itself.
2. Toyota Sienna
With so many dependable cars, trucks, and SUVs around, it won’t surprise anyone that Toyota delivered the same quality in its minivan. Since its 1998 debut, Sienna has been one of the staples of family hauling in America. In this case, you can understand why such a high percentage of owners (17.1%) held theirs over 15 years. They bought them when the kids were young, then sold them when they hit high school. Amazingly, they never had to replace them.
1. Toyota Highlander
Since its 2001 debut, Highlander either scored above-average or excellent in reliability. Meanwhile, its owner satisfaction ratings could not be beaten. That combination made Highlander owners loathe to part with their SUVs. When some finally went to sell in 2017, an amazing 18.3% had kept theirs for 15 years or longer. It’s America’s No. 1 keeper this century.
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