The average age of a light-duty vehicle (passenger car, pickup or sport utility vehicle) currently traveling U.S. roads and highways is 11.6 years, exactly three years longer than the average in 1997. According to a report last year from IHS Markit, a record 264 million light vehicles were registered in the United States in January 2016, up 2.4% year over year.
Longer term ownership is a function of overall quality improvements, but other factors may be at play as well.
Researchers at used car information site iSeeCars.com looked at sales data for 15.7 million used vehicles sold by their original owners between January 2013 and December 2016 to determine the average length of ownership by drivers who bought the vehicles new. The overall average length of time a new car owner holds onto the vehicle is 7.3 years, but the average for the top 10 vehicles ranges from 8.8 to 10.6 years.
Looking at the overall average, owners could be selling their vehicles about two years or so after the car is paid for. The average new car loan period had stretched to 68 months at the beginning of 2016 and, according to Consumer Reports, the most common length for new car loans in 2015 was 72 months. Longer term loans keep monthly payments down, even though the total cost of the loan is higher, which makes the value of the car lower to owners when they finally decide to sell.
Other factors that encourage owners to keep their vehicles longer are the vehicles’ unique features, such as the three seven-seat SUVs on the following list, or one of the four sportier models on the list that have a look that is not relatively quickly outdated.
Based on their research, here is the iSeeCars list of the 10 vehicles U.S. drivers hold onto longest:
- Toyota Land Cruiser: 10.6 years
- Porsche Boxster: 9.9 years
- Ford Expedition: 9.0 years
- Mercedes-Benz SLK: 9.0 years
- Ford Explorer: 8.9 years
- Toyota Sequoia: 8.9 years
- Chevrolet Corvette: 8.8 years
- Toyota Avalon: 8.8 years
- Toyota 4Runner: 8.8 years
- Audi TT: 8.8 years
The research also notes that the ownership term for popular vehicles like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry or Jeep Cherokee averages 7.3 years while pickups average a 7.5-year first-owner lifespan.