Used car website iSeeCars.com commissioned a study of over 350,000 cars from the 1981-2004 model years to determine which Cars People Keep the Longest. Here are the Top 15 vehicles ranked by how many of the original owners kept them for at least 15 years:
Out of the Top 15 spots, 10 were from Toyota, 4 from Honda, and 1 from Subaru. The Toyota Highlander midsize SUV had nearly 1 in 5 original owners (18.3%) keep it at least 15 years, which is more than double the overall average (2.4x). The Toyota Sienna also has double the average rate of 15+ year original ownership. In this peak age of 3-year leases, 15 years feels like forever!
It is a widely-known fact that Toyotas are above-average in reliability. However, this survey isn’t specifically about what cars are still on the road after 15 years. It’s about people who buy a brand new Toyota/Honda and keep the same car for 15 years. Are these just random people who buy a new Toyota and then not replace it because it never breaks down? Or are they a self-selected group of practical-minded people who plan on buying a car and owning it forever, and thus choose a Toyota? Perhaps they simply hate the car-buying experience? Or maybe it’s just the stereotype that they are bought by old, boring people *cough*.
I was a little surprised that Ford F-150 trucks are not on the list. These are usually the best-selling vehicle in the country, so people must think that they have some level of quality. They are expressly mentioned in the bestselling book The Millionaire Next Door as the car most commonly owned by “real world” millionaires. However, if you look further down in the study, you will find that the Ford F-150 is below average and the light-duty truck that is least likely to be kept for 15 years. For some reason, people are more likely to replace their Ford F-150 than any other truck! Meanwhile, the Toyota Tacoma and Toyota Tundra are at the very top of the long-term ownership list by a solid margin. I wonder if Toyota Tundra owners in fact have a higher probability of being a millionaire?
I will admit, I chose a Toyota Sienna over the Honda Odyssey (and all the other brands) for my current car after reading about how their slow-and-methodical engineering process is specifically designed for maximum reliability. I simply hate the inconvenience of having to visit the mechanic shop, and am willing to give up sportiness and luxury at this point in my life.