How long do new cars last? Some original owners keep theirs 15 years or more

Toyota Prius
A 10-year-old Toyota Prius could have a lot of years left for some owners, iSeeCars.com finds.

Most vehicle owners – possibly you, certainly me – may find it difficult to imagine keeping a new vehicle for the average lifespan of just over 11 years.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t done.

So how long do new cars last assuming owners keep up regular maintenance?

A recent study by iSeeCars.com, a research and shopping website, found that original owners of certain brands and models keep their vehicles a lot longer than most of us do – more than twice as long in some cases – and 15 years or longer is more common than you might expect.

Indeed, original owners typically keep their vehicles about six years before upgrading to a new one.

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The automotive research site analyzed more than 660,000 vehicles from 1981-2005 model years sold in 2020 to determine which cars owners are most likely to keep for at least 15 years. The top 10 models comprised seven Toyotas, two Hondas and one Subaru. Toyota’s domination included the top 5 positions, led by Prius and Highlander at more than double the overall average of 15-year ownership.

SUVs accounted for the most vehicles on the list with six – three Toyotas, two Hondas and a Subaru – followed by two trucks, a hatchback and a minivan.

Top 10 vehicles owners keep longest

Following is a list of the top 10 vehicles original owners keep 15 years or longer, along with their segment and the percentage of owners who keep their vehicles that long:

1. Toyota Prius, hatchback, 13.7%
2. Toyota Highlander, SUV, 12.4%
3. Toyota Tacoma, pickup truck, 11.6%
4. Toyota Sienna, minivan, 11.5%
5. Toyota Tundra, pickup truck, 11.3%
6. Honda CR-V, SUV, 10.7%
7. Honda Pilot, SUV, 10.4%
8. Subaru Forester, SUV, 9.8%
9. Toyota 4Runner, SUV, 9.1%
10. Toyota Sequoia, SUV, 9.1%

“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 Karl Brauer, a top iSeeCars.com analyst. “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.”

The overall winner, Prius, is kept at least 15 years by 2.2 times more owners than the average vehicle.

“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 as long as possible,” Brauer said. “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.”

Meanwhile, Toyota (4), Honda (2) and Subaru (2) dominated the SUVs-only category.

Top 10 SUVs owners keep longest

Following is a list of the top 10 SUVs original owners keep 15 years or longer, along with percentage of owners who keep their vehicles that long:

1. Toyota Highlander, 12.4%
2. Honda CR-V, 10.7%
3. Honda Pilot, 10.4%
4. Subaru Forester, 9.8%
5. Toyota 4Runner, 9.4%
6. Toyota Sequoia, 9.1%
7. Toyota RAV4, 8.7%
8. Acura MDX, 7.9%
9. Hyundai Tucson, 7.6%
10. Subaru Outback, 6.8%

Top cars owners keep longest*

Following is a list of the top seven cars original owners keep 15 years or longer, along with percentage of owners who keep their vehicles that long:

1. Toyota Corolla, 8.9%
2. Toyota Camry, 8.5%
3. Subaru Impreza, 8.3%
4. Toyota Avalon, 7.6%
5. Honda Accord, 7.2%
6. Honda Civic, 6.7%
7. Subaru Legacy, 6.3%

* Only these seven cars beat the 6.1% segment average for percentage of original owners keeping their vehicles for 15 years or more.

Top trucks owners keep longest**

Following is a list of the top six trucks original owners keep 15 years or longer, along with percentage of owners who keep their vehicles that long:

1. Toyota Tacoma, 11.6%
2. Toyota Tundra, 11.3%
3. Nissan Frontier, 8.5%
4. GMC Canyon, 7.8%
5. Chevrolet Colorado, 7.6%
6. Nissan Titan, 6.7%

** Only these six pickups beat the 6.3% segment average for percentage of original owners keeping their trucks for 15 years or more.

For more study results see Cars Owners Keep the Longest at iSeeCars.com.

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