Top 15 cars the original owners keep the longest
When you're shopping for a new car, one interesting statistic to consider is how long current owners tend to keep specific vehicles. After all, choosing to keep a car or truck instead of replacing it with something newer is a good indicator of owner satisfaction.
Over 750,000 vehicles in the U.S. produced from 1981-2003 were analyzed by iSeeCars, with a focus on seeing what percent of owners kept them for 15 years or longer. A quick look at the list you’ll notice the most dominant characteristic shared between all these cars is where they’re from: Japan.
Yep, every car that made the top 15 list is from a Japanese automaker — Toyota happens to be tops in the country, too. Let’s get into the list now, and discover which cars specifically people keep the longest. Click the first image to begin.
15. Toyota Avalon
Toyota Avalon: 10.8 percent
It’s only right that we begin this list with a Toyota, because nearly every vehicle in its lineup managed to get in the top 15. The big Toyota sedan has always been a bit roomier and more luxurious than the smaller Camry.
Why will we be seeing a bunch of Toyota’s on this list you might ask? It’s probably because Toyota’s reputation for long-lasting and reliable vehicles is more than just a reputation.
Toyota Avalon Information
14. Toyota 4Runner
Toyota 4Runner: 11.2 percentToyota's off-roading SUV has been around for a long time, and is next up on our list. It’s a capable vehicle for tackling some trails with. Owners appear to enjoy this quality about it, and don’t ditch them very quickly. This and the larger Land Cruiser have faithfully stuck around to satiate the Toyota off-road enthusiasts of the world.
Toyota 4Runner Information
13. Acura MDX
Acura MDX: 11.4 percentOur first non-Toyota of the group, hallelujah! That said, it’s still from a Japanese make that prides itself on producing reliable vehicles. The MDX was introduced just before the year cutoff for this list in 2001, and was the brand’s first SUV. Acura still produces the MDX today.
Acura MDX Information
12. Toyota Camry
Toyota Camry: 11.5 percentIt’s a bit surprising to not see the Accord on this list alongside the Camry, but it looks like owners cling to the Toyota just a tad longer on average. That said, the Camry hasn’t been a car driving enthusiasts would want to hold onto in a long time. It took the total redesign of the newest generation for Toyota to finally add some driving enjoyment into its traditionally bland sedan.
Toyota Camry Information
11. Toyota Rav4
Toyota Rav4: 12.1 percentToyota’s little crossover used to be a riot of a vehicle. The all-wheel drive version had a drivetrain descended from the rally-bred Celica All-Trac when it was first sold Stateside. You could even get a version with two doors and a removable roof. Rad. More recently the Rav4 became a boring crossover, but the brand-new Rav4 we just drove is trying to change that.
Toyota Rav4 Information
10. Subaru Forester
Subaru Forester: 12.1 percentThe venerable Subaru Forester just entered a new generation itself, but Subaru fans are certainly loyal to the original. While Subaru doesn’t necessarily have the reliability reputation that brands like Toyota and Honda do, they’ve done a good job carving out a niche audience that loves them. How long the Forester stays in households is a direct example of this.
Subaru Forester Information
9. Honda CR-V
Honda CR-V: 12.4 percentYou’re probably noticing the reign of crossovers on the list at this point now, too. The Honda CR-V was one of the car-based crossovers that kicked off the trend we see in the industry today. People liked them 20 years ago and they still like the CR-V now.
Honda CR-V Information
8. Honda Odyssey
Honda Odyssey: 12.6 percentHere’s the first minivan on this list, and we’re not surprised it’s a Honda. Family cars tend to get bought around the time a family starts, so holding onto such a vehicle makes a whole lot of sense. The Odyssey is a family car most would struggle to grow out of, as well. Once you have a van, it’s hard to give up that utility.
Honda Odyssey Information
7. Toyota Tacoma
Toyota Tacoma: 13.4 percentA truck! It’s the first, but also not the last one on this list. Are you surprised it's not a Ford F-150? Yeah, we’re scratching our heads on how a truck from the Detroit Big Three didn’t make it in either. Regardless, the Taco is a great little truck that’s earned its reputation and spot as the top midsize pickup.
Toyota Tacoma Information
6. Toyota Sequoia
Toyota Sequoia: 13.5 percentLoosely based on the Toyota Tundra, the large Sequoia continues the Toyota truck theme here. It’s bold and brash and the largest SUV on this list. People definitely keep these longer than Expeditions and Tahoes, too. Like most of Toyota’s truck lineup, the Sequoia has been chugging along without a significant update for awhile.
Toyota Sequoia Information
5. Toyota Tundra
Toyota Tundra: 14.1 percentNow that the SUV version of the truck is out of the way, next up is the truck itself. The Tundra is Toyota’s biggest truck offering, competing against the big bruisers from Ford, GM and Ram. Sales-wise it doesn’t come close to touching those trucks. When it comes to how long owners keep them, though, the Toyota surprisingly takes the crown.
Toyota Tundra Information
4. Honda Pilot
Honda Pilot: 15.3 percentThe last Honda on this list comes in at number four, and it’s the brand’s largest SUV. The percent of people that keep the Pilot for 15 years or longer is two times that of the average vehicle. The Pilot is closely related to the Acura MDX that we saw at the start of this list — we generally enjoy it every time we hop into the big Pilot.
Honda Pilot Information
3. Toyota Sienna
Toyota Sienna: 16.1 percentWe haven’t seen the Sienna minivan change much in a long while, but it’s still here and competing with the top vehicles in the segment like the Pacifica and Odyssey. It’s the only minivan you can spec with all-wheel drive in the U.S., which gives it an edge for people in northern climes. Just like the Odyssey, we’re not surprised to see so many people wanting to hang onto such an adept people hauler.
Toyota Sienna Information
2. Toyota Prius
Toyota Prius: 16.2 percentDo people like fuel economy? Well, yes they do. None of the others on this list are hybrids, but the Prius was one fish in a very small sea of hybrids back in 2003. We imagine the data would include some of the other hybrid vehicles that came after the original Prius if this study is repeated in a decade or so.
Toyota Prius Information
1. Toyota Highlander
Toyota Highlander: 18.5 percentPerforming a great deal better than any other vehicle on this list is the midsize Toyota Highlander SUV. As one of the first car-based crossovers in America, people liked it even then. Now that the SUV and crossover hoopla has reached a feverish pitch, the Highlander is even more popular. Just as we started the list, a Toyota ends it, too. Conclusions? Older Toyotas most likely don’t make people want to ditch them. A bunch of other older cars turn into money pits after so much time, but the vast majority of Toyotas sold in this time period just keep on ticking.