US Drivers Can't Wait to Dump These Cars

As of last November, the average age of a light-duty vehicle (passenger car, pickup and sport utility vehicle) currently traveling U.S. roads and highways was 11.6 years, exactly three years longer than the average in 1997. Nearly a third (81 million out of some 264 million) were more than 16 years old.

The original owner of a vehicle keeps it for an average of 7.4 years, and as with all averages, that number hides a multitude of sins. For example, 3.4% of new cars purchased between 2013 and 2018 stayed in the original owner’s garage for less than one year, according to a new study from used car information website that looked at more than 46 million new vehicle sales during that period.

Surprisingly, perhaps, eight of the 10 vehicles that Americans can’t wait even a year to sell are luxury models from makers like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Land Rover. The most quickly resold vehicle is the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which 12.4% of owners sell within a year of purchasing the car new. That’s nearly four times the average, for a quick turnaround.

These are 10 vehicles that new owners can’t wait to get rid of, along with the percentage sold during the first year of ownership:

  1. Mercedes-Benz C-Class, 12.4% resold within one year
  2. BMW 3 Series, 11.8%
  3. Land Rover Discovery Sport, 11.8%
  4. Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, 10.9%
  5. MINI Clubman, 10.7%
  6. BMW X1, 10.4%
  7. BMW X3, 9.0%
  8. Nissan Versa Note, 9.0%
  9. Jaguar XF, 8.8%
  10. Nissan Versa, 8.7%

Phong Ly, CEO of iSeeCars, commented:

Despite the popularity of [Mercedes and BMW] vehicles, they generally have below-average reliability ratings from Consumer Reports, which could contribute to why owners get rid of them so quickly. … The [Land Rover] Discovery Sport and the Range Rover Evoque each have poor projected reliability ratings from J.D. Power, which could contribute to why owners would want to give them up.

Ly also noted that the Clubman is the most expensive vehicle in its class and one of the lowest fuel-economy ratings. Finding a lower-priced vehicle with better mileage is not too difficult. The mass-market Nissans are basic, no-frills vehicles that may be a bit too bare-bones for some buyers.

In all, there were 18 brands that exceeded the 3.4% average of new cars resold within one year. Here they are in order along with the resale rate: BMW, 7.9%; Porsche, 7.6%; Mercedes-Benz, 7.4%; Land Rover, 6.5%; Jaguar, 6.4%; MINI, 6.2%; Fiat, 5.2%; Audi, 5.1%; Nissan, 5.0%; Infiniti, 4.7%; Maserati, 4.3%; Ram, 4.1%; Dodge, 4.1%; Acura, 3.9%; Mitsubishi, 3.8%; Cadillac, 3.8%; Volkswagen, 3.7%; and Jeep, 3.6%.

In addition to the two BMW SUVs and two Land Rover SUVs that made the top 10, other SUVs that get sold by their first owners within one year are the Porsche Cayenne, the Mercedes-Benz GLA, the Nissan Rogue Sport, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, the Mazda CX-3 and the Porsche Macan. The average percentage for all SUVs quick turnaround sales is 2.7%, and the vehicles on this list range from 11.8% to 6.3%.

The vehicles that owners dump most often in the first year are sports cars. As iSeeCars’s Ly points out, “One of the defining qualities of sports cars is that they are not practical. People might decide that they want a more fuel-efficient vehicle that is more suitable for daily driving.” First-year resales average 6.1%, with the Nissan 370Z leading with sales percentage of 7.8%, followed by the Porsche 911 (7.1%), the Chevrolet Corvette (6.4%), the Dodge Challenger (6.4%), the Ford Mustang (6.3%),and the Chevrolet Camaro (6.1%).

The full report and details on pickup truck resales are available at the iSeeCars website.