In an era where we lease cars for just a year or two at a time and ride-share with complete strangers on a daily basis, it’s becoming increasingly rare to hear about long-term car ownership. Of course, there will always be the investment-type classic cars people hold on to for decades, but what about new cars that have life cycles rapidly becoming more akin to that of smartphones? How long do new car owners actually hold onto their automobiles before trading them in or selling them? The website iSeeCars.com analyzed over 5 million cars sold by their original owners between January 2014 and December 2018 to determine exactly that.
The study found 8.4 years to be the average length of ownership across all the cars surveyed and the top ten is almost evenly split between sports cars and SUVs. “While the average new car buyer holds onto their car for 8.4 years, there is a wide variety of cars that owners are more likely to keep longer,” said iSeeCars.com CEO Phong Ly. Below, you can find the top five longest kept cars along with the full list of the top ten further down. There’s a more in-depth look at the study over on iSeeCars.com.
Toyota earns a few spots in the top ten, but the Toyota Land Cruiser claims the number one slot. Toyota’s reputation for reliability and durability surely played a part in helping the Land Cruiser top the list. However, the current generation full-size Japanese SUV has been on sale for nearly a decade without any major updates or a redesign. It’s possible owners just don’t see the need to trade it in for a new model.
As far as sports cars go, the Corvette is one of the more basic, simple machines in the segment. That’s not to take away from the outstanding performance it commands, but the GM LS engine under the hood is one of the more dependable and easily serviceable power plants on the market. A relatively low-maintenance performance car is a rare occurrence and probably makes a good case for itself, encouraging owners to keep it around longer.
A German convertible like the Mercedes-Benz SL seems to land surprisingly high on the list, but according to Ly, “Convertibles are the least-driven vehicle segment and accrue 60% less mileage than the average vehicle.” So, while maintenance costs are famously high for German automakers convertible sports cars like the SL see fewer miles, especially if they reside in regions with varying seasons.
Not only are some Audi TT owners at the mercy of the seasons if they opt for the convertible, Ly also made a note to say “Because sports cars aren’t typically used as primary vehicles, owners likely aren’t as concerned with having the latest and greatest technology and safety features.” With one practical car likely already in the stable, the TT fills the role of the “fun” car, so trading in or upgrading for sensibility probably isn’t a concern.
A three-row SUV like the Ford Expedition should come as a surprise this high up on the list. Speaking about the Ford, Ly said, “These vehicles also tend to be family vehicles with standard or optional third-row seating, so parents are likely to keep them until they no longer require a large vehicle.” It’s the type of vehicle a growing family, or a family expecting to grow purchases and holds on to until it becomes overkill when the parents are looking at an empty nest.
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