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10 Cars Kept by Their Owners the Longest — What Makes Them Worth Holding Onto for 15+ Years?

contrastaddict / iStock.com
contrastaddict / iStock.com

With today’s inflated car prices and limited inventory, Americans are more apt to hold on to their cars longer and even drive them into the ground if necessary.

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If you’re wondering which vehicles are worth your hard-earned money, and if dependability and longevity are high priorities when you’re thinking of buying, it’s a good idea to see which cars owners are least likely to part with.

In analyzing over 660,000 used cars from model years 1981-2005 sold in 2020, iSeeCars has compiled a list of the cars owners hang onto the longest. Known for consistently building vehicles with solid fuel economy and advanced technology, Japanese models are far and away the cars that owners keep for at least 15 years, according to the study.

But precise manufacturing and continuous improvement make reliability the hallmark of Japanese brands, and with the exception of a lone Subaru, Toyota and Honda models dominate iSeeCars’ top 10, accounting for seven and two places, respectively. There are six SUVs on the list, two trucks, a minivan and a hatchback (heavy-duty trucks, work vans and vehicles no longer in production were excluded).

“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,” said iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer. “Drivers are more likely to hold onto cars that they know they can rely on and don’t require a great deal of expensive maintenance.”

This aligns with current thinking. Last year, when Consumer Reports released its annual auto reliability brand rankings, Japanese (and Korean) companies made up seven of the top 10 most reliable brands. Toyota topped the list of the most reliable brand, having all of its models, except two, with above or well above average reliability scores.

If you’re looking to buy a car and want to know which models more of your fellow drivers are keeping for 15 years or more, then read on to the top 10 list:

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10. Toyota Sequoia

  • % 15+-Year-Old Cars Kept by Original Owners: 9.1%

  • Compared to Average: 1.5x

9. Toyota 4Runner

  • % 15+-Year-Old Cars Kept by Original Owners: 9.4%

  • Compared to Average: 1.5x

8. Subaru Forester

  • % 15+-Year-Old Cars Kept by Original Owners: 9.8%

  • Compared to Average: 1.6x

7. Honda Pilot

  • % 15+-Year-Old Cars Kept by Original Owners: 10.4%

  • Compared to Average: 1.7x

6. Honda CR-V

  • % 15+-Year-Old Cars Kept by Original Owners: 10.7%

  • Compared to Average: 1.8x

5. Toyota Tundra

  • % 15+-Year-Old Cars Kept by Original Owners: 11.3%

  • Compared to Average: 1.8x

4. Toyota Sienna

  • % 15+-Year-Old Cars Kept by Original Owners: 11.5%

  • Compared to Average: 1.9x

3. Toyota Tacoma

  • % 15+-Year-Old Cars Kept by Original Owners: 11.6%

  • Compared to Average: 1.9x

2. Toyota Highlander

  • % 15+-Year-Old Cars Kept by Original Owners: 12.4%

  • Compared to Average: 2.0x

1. Toyota Prius

  • % 15+-Year-Old Cars Kept by Original Owners: 13.7%

  • Compared to Average: 2.2x

While iSeeCars found the average for all vehicles was 6.1%, the car that people keep the longest is the Toyota Prius, with 13.7% of cars — 2.2 times the average rate — that were 15 years or older kept by their original owners.

See: 5 Japanese Cars To Stay Away From Buying

“Prius owners who have kept their vehicles on the road for at least 15 years are early adopters of hybrid vehicle technology, and these eco-minded consumers likely want to keep their vehicles for as long as possible,” said Brauer. “Priuses also attract practical drivers thanks to their fuel economy and their low ownership costs, and prolonged ownership of the vehicle helps drivers maximize their fuel savings.”

More From GOBankingRates

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 10 Cars Kept by Their Owners the Longest — What Makes Them Worth Holding Onto for 15+ Years?