Cars and Drivers

These Are the 10 Cars People Keep the Longest

Courtesy of Toyota

Longevity, which was not a word people decades ago would use to describe new American-made cars, has become a critical part of the industry. American cars, customers said then, were made to last two or three years. Then it was time to get a new one. Japanese imports, well built and sturdy, changed this. Today, the cars bought new are on the road an average of more than 11 years.

iSeeCars screened its database for cars people own for 15 years or more, much longer than most cars are on the road. The average period an original owner keeps a car is 6.1 years. At that point, many are sold in the used car market. Used car sales have surged in the past two years, because both cars last longer and buyers are attracted to their lower prices.

iSeeCars looked at 600,000 car models bought new from 1981 to 2005 and then sold to another owner in 2020. A mathematical model was used to determine how many of these cars were sold by the original owner.

The 10 cars that original owners keep for 15 years or longer are led by the Toyota Prius. A full 13.7% of first owners keep it for 15 years. That is 2.2 times the national average. The Prius and the nine other cars have been shown to have durability in study after study conducted by researchers of car brand and model quality.

iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer commented: “Japanese vehicles, especially Toyota and Honda, are known for their reliability and durability and attract practical consumers who want vehicles that can be kept on the road as long as possible.”

The top five cars on the list were made by Toyota. In fact, seven out of 10 were made by Japan’s largest car company, while two others were made by Honda and one by Subaru. The fact that there are no American car brands on the list says something about the ongoing contrast in perception about Japanese versus American cars.

The Prius is the first mass-market hybrid. It first hit the market in 1997 and was introduced in the United States in 2001. Worldwide sales of the Prius since it was launched are estimated at well over a million units.

Owners have kept these cars for 15 years or longer:

Vehicle Kept 15 Years
Toyota Prius 13.7%
Toyota Highlander 12.4%
Toyota Tacoma 11.6%
Toyota Sienna 11.5%
Toyota Tundra 11.3%
Honda CR-V 10.7%
Honda Pilot 10.4%
Subaru Forester 9.8%
Toyota 4Runner 9.4%
Toyota Sequoia 9.1%

Click here to see America’s longest-lasting car brands.

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