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New Cars Owners Keep the Longest

By Julie Blackley

Study analyzes average length of ownership among new cars

The new cars that owners keep the longest before selling are mostly SUVs, according to a new study by automotive research firm and search engine iSeeCars.com. SUVs account for five of the top 10 new cars that owners keep the longest, followed by sedans, which have three models on the list.

The automotive research firm analyzed more than 6 million used vehicles sold by original owners to identify which models are kept the longest. The average length of ownership for the top 10 models ranges from 8.3 to 9.0 years – or 10.9 percent to 20.9 percent longer than the overall average (7.4 years).  

iSeeCars Top 10 New Cars Owners Keep the Longest
Rank Model # Years of Ownership (Avg.)
1 Ford Expedition 9.0
2 Chevrolet Corvette 9.0
3 Toyota Sequoia 8.9
4 Toyota 4Runner 8.8
5 Toyota Avalon 8.6
6 Ford Explorer 8.4
7 Chevrolet Suburban 8.4
8 Honda Accord 8.3
9 Ford Taurus 8.3
10 Honda Odyssey 8.3
Average for All Cars 7.4
Download Table

"While the average car buyer gets rid of their car 7.4 years after purchasing it new, there is a wide variety of cars that owners are more likely to keep for longer,” said iSeeCars CEO Phong Ly. “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.”

Earning the distinction as the new car that drivers keep the longest is the Ford Expedition, which is kept for an average of nine years before being sold. One of five SUVs on the list, the Expedition is joined by two other SUVs with standard seating capacity of at least seven passengers: the Toyota Sequoia and Chevrolet Suburban. The two remaining SUVs on the list, the Toyota 4Runner and the Ford Explorer, have optional third row seating available in select models. “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,” said Ly.  

The three sedans on the list include the Toyota Avalon, the Honda Accord and the Ford Taurus, which are spacious sedans that offer ample cargo room. “Coincidentally, these three vehicles are also the top three sedans on the iSeeCars list of longest-lasting vehicles likely to reach 200,000 miles in this same order,” said Ly.

The second ranked Corvette is the only sports car to make the list, with the new car’s average length of ownership at nine years, just behind the top-ranked Expedition. “Sports cars tend to not be primary vehicles, which is why owners might hold on to them longer than the average car since they are not subjected to as much wear and tear,” said Ly.

The Honda Odyssey, the lone minivan, narrowly made the list in the tenth spot. “Similar to SUVs, minivans are the consummate family vehicle, and owners are likely to hold onto them until their children are grown and no longer need assistance entering and exiting the car.”

Absent from the overall top ten list are luxury vehicles, which suggests that luxury buyers are more likely to change vehicles more frequently. “This can be explained because luxury vehicles are often leased,” said Ly.

Average Length of Ownership for America’s Most Popular Cars  

iSeeCars examined how long owners hold on to the nation’s most popular cars after purchasing them new. The average length of ownership for these new cars before getting resold ranges from 5.3 to 8.4 years, with the Ford Explorer and the Honda Accord as the only popular cars to also rank on the overall top 10 list. Ten of the 20 best-selling cars are kept for longer than the overall average.

iSeeCars Length of Ownership for Popular Cars
Rank Model # Years of Ownership (Avg.)
1 Ford Explorer 8.4
2 Honda Accord 8.3
3 Toyota Camry 8.1
4 Toyota Highlander 7.9
5 Toyota Corolla 7.8
6 Jeep Grand Cherokee 7.8
7 Honda Civic 7.6
8 Honda CR-V 7.6
9 Ram Ram Pickup 1500 7.4
10 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 7.4
Overall Average 7.4
11 GMC Sierra 1500 7.3
12 Ford F-150 7.2
13 Nissan Altima 7.1
14 Toyota RAV4 7.0
15 Ford Escape 6.8
16 Nissan Sentra 6.8
17 Hyundai Elantra 6.6
18 Chevrolet Equinox 6.0
19 Ford Fusion 5.8
20 Nissan Rogue 5.3
Download Table

“When looking at the list of popular cars that owners keep longer than average, Toyota and Honda each have three models represented,” said 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.”

Interestingly, the four popular pickup trucks that made the list earned consecutive spots on the lis with ownership ranging slightly from 7.2 to 7.4 years. “This shows consistency among pickup truck owners for how long they keep their trucks for after purchasing them new,” noted Ly.

One vehicle that stands out on the list is the bottom-ranked Nissan Rogue, which owners keep for 5.4 years after purchasing the vehicle new. “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,” said Ly.

Passenger Cars People Hold Onto the Longest

iSeeCars examined the list to determine the passenger cars that owners hold onto for the longest time after purchasing them new. As a vehicle segment, passenger cars are sold 7.3 years on average after the initial purchase — close to the overall average.

iSeeCars New Passenger Cars Owners Keep the Longest
Rank Model # Years of Ownership (Avg.)
1 Chevrolet Corvette 9.0
2 Toyota Avalon 8.6
3 Honda Accord 8.3
4 Ford Taurus 8.3
5 Toyota Camry 8.1
6 Ford Mustang 8.1
7 Chevrolet Impala 7.9
8 Volkswagen Passat 7.9
9 Mazda6 7.9
10 Toyota Corolla 7.8
Passenger Car Average 7.3
Download Table

The top four models on this list also appear on the overall top 10 list. Ranked fifth is the Toyota Camry, which is known for its dependability. Other popular sedans with reputations for dependability that make the list include the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic.

Joining the top-ranked Corvette as the only other sports car on the list is the sixth-ranked Ford Mustang. “Known as the original pony car, older models of the Ford Mustang don’t appear dated because of its timeless design,” said Ly.

The remainder of the list is comprised of family sedans including the seventh-ranked Chevrolet Impala, the eighth-ranked Volkswagen Passat, and the ninth-ranked Mazda6. “These vehicles provide an alternative to the ubiquitous Toyota Camrys and Honda Accords and are attractive vehicle options for families who don’t want an SUV or a minivan,” said Ly.

New Pickup Trucks Owners Keep the Longest

Pickup trucks as a segment are kept longer than the overall average – 7.7 years versus 7.4 years. There is little variance across the segment, which ranges from 7.2 years to 7.8 years of ownership.

"Pickup trucks are often used as work vehicles and are known for their durability,” said Ly. “Pickup truck drivers are likely to place more value on function and reliability rather than keeping up with modern design and technology trends.”

The three models above the overall pickup truck average are the Toyota Tacoma, the Nissan Titan, and the Nissan Frontier.

iSeeCars New Pickup Trucks Owners Keep the Longest
Rank Model # Years of Ownership (Avg.)
1 Toyota Tacoma 7.8
2 Nissan Titan 7.7
3 Nissan Frontier 7.7
Pickup Truck Average 7.7
4 Toyota Tundra 7.6
5 Ram Ram Pickup 1500 7.4
6 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 7.3
7 GMC Sierra 1500   7.3
8 Ford F-150 7.2
Download Table

Longest-Kept Models By Metropolitan Area

iSeeCars examined the data to determine the longest-kept new cars in the country's largest metropolitan areas. Appearing most often on the list is the Honda Accord.

Longest-Kept New Cars by Metro Area
Metro Area Make/Model Average # Years Kept
Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY Honda Accord  7.3
Atlanta, GA Toyota Sienna  8.4
Austin, TX Honda Accord  8.8
Baltimore, MD Toyota Camry  8.6
Boston, MA-Manchester, NH Toyota Tundra  7.9
Buffalo, NY Honda CR-V  6.8
Charleston-Huntington, WV Chevrolet Silverado 1500  7.1
Charlotte, NC Honda Accord  8.0
Chicago, IL Honda Accord  9.2
Cincinnati, OH Honda Accord  8.9
Cleveland-Akron (Canton), OH Honda Accord  8.9
Columbus, OH Honda Accord  8.5
Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX Toyota 4Runner  8.9
Dayton, OH Chevrolet Equinox  5.9
Denver, CO Honda Accord  9.7
Des Moines-Ames, IA Chevrolet Silverado 1500  6.5
Detroit, MI Jeep Grand Cherokee  7.3
Flint-Saginaw-Bay City, MI Chevrolet Silverado 1500  7.3
Ft Smith-Springdale, AR Chevrolet Silverado 1500  7.4
Harrisburg-Lancaster-York, PA Honda Civic  8.4
Hartford & New Haven, CT Honda Accord  7.8
Houston, TX Toyota 4Runner  9.0
Indianapolis, IN Honda Accord  9.0
Kansas City, MO Chevrolet Silverado 1500  7.1
Little Rock-Pine Bluff, AR Chevrolet Silverado 1500  7.3
Los Angeles, CA Chevrolet Suburban  9.0
Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL Honda Accord  7.8
Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN Honda Accord  8.6
Nashville, TN Honda Odyssey  7.8
New Orleans, LA Chevrolet Silverado 1500  7.9
New York, NY Toyota Avalon  9.1
Orlando-Daytona Beach, FL Honda Accord  8.3
Philadelphia, PA Toyota 4Runner  9.5
Phoenix, AZ Chevrolet Tahoe  8.3
Pittsburgh, PA Honda Accord  8.0
Portland-Auburn, ME Honda CR-V  7.1
Providence, RI-New Bedford, MA Honda Accord  7.7
Raleigh-Durham (Fayetteville), NC Honda Accord  8.3
Rochester, NY Honda CR-V  7.1
Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA Toyota Tacoma  8.1
San Antonio, TX Chevrolet Silverado 1500  7.2
San Diego, CA Toyota Tacoma  8.3
San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA Honda Odyssey  8.8
Seattle-Tacoma, WA Honda Accord  9.8
Shreveport, LA Chevrolet Silverado 1500  7.1
Syracuse, NY Honda CR-V  6.3
Tampa-St Petersburg (Sarasota), FL Honda Accord  8.2
Toledo, OH Chevrolet Equinox  5.9
Washington, DC (Hagerstown, MD) Honda Accord  8.5
West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce, FL Honda Accord  7.8
 

Longest-Kept Models By State

iSeeCars also examined the data to determine the longest-kept new cars on a statewide level. Appearing most often on the list is the Honda Accord accounting for 14 spots and the Toyota 4Runner with six.  "In addition to occurring most frequently on the geographic area list, the Accord also appears on the country's overall top 10 list, demonstrating that citywide and statewide ownership patterns mirror national trends," said Ly.

iSeeCars Longest-Kept Models by State*
State Make # Years of Ownership (Avg.)
AL Honda Odyssey 8.2
AR Honda Accord 8.1
AZ Chevrolet Tahoe 8.4
CA Ford Expedition 9.8
CO Honda Accord 9.6
CT Toyota Camry 8.3
FL Ford Expedition 9.2
GA Ford Expedition 9.4
IA Chevrolet Silverado 1500 6.5
ID Ford F-150 7.1
IL Honda Accord 9.1
IN Honda Accord 8.8
KS Chevrolet Silverado 1500 7.0
KY Honda Accord 8.7
LA Honda Odyssey 8.4
MA Toyota Tundra 7.7
MD Honda Accord 8.3
ME Chevrolet Silverado 1500 6.8
MI Honda Accord 8.7
MN Honda Accord 8.6
MO Honda Accord 8.6
MS Chevrolet Tahoe 7.7
NC Toyota 4Runner 8.9
NE Ford F-150 7.2
NH Honda Accord 8.0
NJ Toyota 4Runner 9.3
NV Ford F-150 7.5
NY Toyota 4Runner 8.1
OH Toyota Avalon 8.9
OK Honda Accord 8.5
OR Honda Civic 8.5
PA Toyota 4Runner 9.0
SC Honda Odyssey 8.3
TN Honda Accord 8.4
TX Toyota 4Runner 8.6
VA Toyota 4Runner 9.1
WA Honda Accord 9.7
WI Honda Accord 9.2
WV Chevrolet Silverado 1500 7.1
Average for All Cars 7.4
 *States with insufficient sample sizes were excluded. Download Table

Longest-Kept New Cars By Make

iSeeCars also examined the data to determine the longest-kept new cars on the make level. "It's no surprise that Honda, Toyota, and Acura comprise the top three spots on the list as Hondas and Toyotas are known for their reliability, and Acura is the luxury brand of Honda," said Ly.

iSeeCars Longest-Kept New Cars by Make

Rank

Make

# Years of Ownership (Avg.)

1

Honda

7.8

2

Toyota

7.8

3

Acura

7.6

4

Subaru

7.3

5

Chrysler

7.3

6

Dodge/Ram

7.2

7

Chevrolet

7.2

8

Ford

7.2

9

Mitsubishi

7.1

10

Porsche

7.0

11

Jeep

7.0

12

Volvo

7.0

13

Mercedes-Benz

6.9

14

GMC

6.9

15

Nissan

6.8

Download Table

“Whether you want a large family hauler, a reliable sedan, or even a flashy sports car, there is a dependable vehicle to suit your lifestyle,” said Ly. “It’s important for consumers to do the proper research and anticipate their long-term needs when making this important investment to ensure their vehicle will stand the test of time.”

Methodology

iSeeCars.com analyzed more than 6 million 5-year-old or older used cars sold by their original owners between Jan. 1, 2013 and Dec. 31, 2017. Models which were owned for less than 5 years were excluded from the analysis, to eliminate the effect of short lease terms on the data. Models that were in production for less than 9 of the 10 most recent model years (2009 to 2018), heavy-duty trucks and vans, and models with two standard errors of the mean greater than +/- 1 month, were also excluded from the analysis. The average age of each model was calculated using the ages of cars when they were first listed for sale. Finally, the analysis was repeated at the state level, comparing the highest-ranked model in each state. The same criteria for excluding models were used, with one exception--models with two standard errors of the mean greater than +/- 2.5 months were excluded. This resulted in some states with lower sample sizes being completely excluded from the state level analysis

About iSeeCars.com

iSeeCars.com is an online car search engine that helps consumers find the best car deals by providing key insights and valuable resources, like the iSeeCars VIN check report. iSeeCars.com has saved users over $163 million so far by applying big data analytics powered by over 25 billion (and growing) data points and using proprietary algorithms to objectively analyze, score and rank millions of cars and thousands of dealers. Based in the Boston area, iSeeCars.com was founded by former TripAdvisor and SAP executives determined to improve the car shopping experience for consumers.

 

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