The Cars People Keep the Longest

After driving a new car off the lot the average American holds onto the car approximately 7.4 years. Most people tend to sell their automobile two years after it’s paid in full.

However, some vehicles tend to stick with their original owners significantly longer than average.

According to Phong Ly, CEO of the automotive search site iSeeCars.com, “Many factors could contribute to a car’s longevity such as its function as shown by the dominance of family vehicles, or because of a fondness of a timeless classic like the Chevrolet Corvette.”

SUVs came out on top as the automobiles retained the longest after a new purchase. In fact, SUVs accounted for five out of ten of the new cars that owners keep the longest.

After analyzing over six-million used-vehicles put on the market by their first owners, iSeeCars.com was able to identify which models people kept the longest. Regarding the top ten models, the length of ownership ranged from 8.3 to 9 years. In other words, the top ten models remained with the original owner 10.9-20.9% longer than the overall average of 7.4 years.

Which new cars are kept the longest?

Ford’s Expedition topped the charts as the new car held for the longest period after newly purchased. In fact, iSeeCars found Expeditions sit in the original owners’ driveways for an average of nine years after purchase. Of course, the Expedition is just one of five SUVs which made its way to the top. The remaining SUVs on the list include the Toyota Sequoia, the Chevrolet Suburban, the Toyota 4Runner, and the Ford Explorer.

Ly commented on this anomaly saying, “These vehicles tend to be family haulers, which means that parents are likely to keep them for longer than average and not replace them until a large family vehicle is no longer necessary.” The same rings true for the tenth on the list, Honda’s Odyssey.

At the same time, Chevy’s Corvette was the only sports car to make the top ten. Averaging about nine years with the original owner, the Corvette sits just below the industry-leading Expedition.

Of course, it makes sense that a collectible sports car, like the Corvette, would remain with the original owner. Generally speaking, sports cars typically don’t act as someone’s sole means of transportation. Therefore, they experience much less wear and tear than your everyday vehicle.

Interestingly, luxury vehicles are not on the list. Those who purchase luxury automobiles have a quicker ownership turnover rate.

Alongside their research regarding new car ownership periods, iSeeCars also researched other variables surrounding the length of vehicle ownership.

Average length of ownership for popular cars

iSeeCars looked at the length of ownership (after a new purchase) of the most popular cars in the US. On average, these new cars ended up back on the market anywhere from 5.3 to 8.4 years after purchase. Uniquely, the Ford Explorer and the Honda Accord were the only vehicles to make it into the top ten for popular cars as well as overall.

“When looking at the list of popular cars that owners keep longer than average, Toyota and Honda each have three models represented,” stated Ly. “These automakers are known for their long-lasting and reliable vehicles, and the continued popularity of these vehicles and the length of time owners hold onto them substantiates their reputation.”

Surprisingly, four pickup trucks made their way onto the list one after another. Their ownership lengths spanned marginally from 7.2 to 7.4 years. This uniformity shows that pickup trucks probably undergo similar treatment during ownership. These vehicles mainly function in a working capacity.

The last-ranked Nissan Rogue is somewhat telling of ownership trends. After all, owners only kept this model for an average of 5.4 years. “The compact Rogue has earned good marks for safety and reliability, and the short length of ownership could be because owners opt to trade them in for larger SUVs to accommodate a growing family,” contests Ly.

Passenger Vehicles Kept the Longest

Passenger vehicles sell, on average, 7.3 years after first purchased. (Note: Passenger vehicles fall short of the national average by a little less than five weeks.)

Therefore, it’s not surprising that the four top-ranking models on this list are also on the iSeeCars’ overall top-ten list. Notably, Toyota’s Camry and Corolla, along with the Honda Civic, have reputations for their reliability and endurance.

Here, we see another sports car making an appearance, the Ford Mustang. The Mustang is just one of those iconic cars whose timeless design keeps it around longer than other cars.

The remaining autos on the list are family sedans, including the Chevy Impala, the Volkswagen Passat, and the Mazda 6.

New pickup trucks held the longest

The entirety of the pickup trucks in this segment remain in possession of the original owner longer than the overall average, i.e. 7.7 years vs. 7.4 years. However, there’s little disparity among pickups, with ownership lengths fluctuating from 7.2 to 7.8 years.

Ly says, “Pickup truck drivers are likely to place more value on function and reliability rather than keeping up with modern design and technology trends.”

Here are more statistics of note:

Models by metropolitan area

The Honda Accord appears more frequently on this list than any other vehicle.

Models by State

Again, we see the Honda Accord topped the charts, ranking number one in fourteen states. Moreover, the Toyota 4Runner reared its head into the mix, ranking number one across six states.

Models by Make

Honda, Toyota, and Acura have long been associated with dependability. Not to mention, Acura is the “luxury Honda,” so it’s no wonder these vehicles make up the top three in this segment.

Methodology

Between 2013 and 2017, iSeeCars.com investigated over six million cars that were five years old or older when sold by their first owners. Models owned for less than five years were excluded from this study, as were any vehicles not in production for more than nine years out of the last decade. iSeeCars determined the average by using the vehicles’ ages at the time of the first sale. Analyses were conducted for each state to determine the highest-ranking model in each.

Who is iSeeCars.com?

iSeeCars.com is both a search-engine and automotive research firm that aids car-buyers in finding the best deals by supplying data-based understandings. They also provide VIN check services and has saved subscribers more than $163 million. This company is based in Boston, MA, and is the brainchild of former executives from TripAdvisor and SAP. Their mission is the continual improvement of UX for automotive consumers.

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