Devotion to the same car could mean several things. Some consider an automobile strictly for transportation and utility, so they aren’t wowed by the latest models and aren’t concerned with style. It’s the opposite of what a luxury car owner looks for in a new ride. Even though they may be of the highest quality, average lengths of ownership tend to be shorter than those of practical cars.
Others have a strict budget and truly want to keep expenses minimal with a new vehicle. As long as it stays on the road, it’s theirs forever. These people tend to do more research before buying an automobile so they get it right the first time.
In a study released by iSeeCars, we got a look at what automobiles people kept the longest over a 10-year period. Using data collected from 400,000 new car sales from the 2005 model year, the auto research firm revealed what percentage of owners had held onto the same vehicle for 10 years, when they went to sell it. The combination of usefulness and reliability can be seen throughout the top 10, which consists of models only by Toyota and Honda.
Here are the 10 vehicles new car owners held onto the longest after purchase in the iSeeCars study. Since the study tracked vehicles bought from 2005, photos of the that model year or the closest one available are used.
10. Honda Element
We haven’t seen a new Honda Element since the 2011 model year, but chances are you’re still seeing them on the road in the hands of their first buyers. Research showed that 23.1% of the original owners still had this utility vehicle 10 years later. Element had a sales total of over 325,000 units in the U.S. beginning with its initial offering in 2002. Its demise could probably be attributed to a better car Honda makes: the CR-V, which continues to be a top seller for the automaker.
9. Honda Pilot
The Honda Pilot has been in production since 2002, and the redesigned 2016 model is keeping sales booming in 2015. Maybe the owners of the 2005 models are finally coming back to the market. Some 23.3% of new Pilot buyers still had their vehicles 10 years after buying them. Not only does that say a great deal about the car’s reliability and utility for families; it also makes it easier on used car shoppers who want an automobile that hasn’t been passed around and neglected over the years.
8. Toyota Avalon
Toyota’s large family sedan sells a slim fraction of what its compact and midsize cars do, but once owners get one, they stick with it. According to the iSeeCars data, 23.8% of Avalon owners from 2005 still had that same car 10 years later. When you think of Toyotas that stand the test of time, the Corolla or Camry may pop into your mind first, but Avalon is right there with them, and the proof is in the long-term ownership percentage.
7. Toyota Camry
America’s best-selling car is also one that inspires a great deal of devotion in its owners. Back in 2005, Toyota was already selling over 400,000 models of this car per year, and an impressive 24.4% of those putting them back on the market in 2015 were the original owners. This car screams practicality rather than style or any other superficial concerns. Buy a Camry and you’re buying common sense on wheels, and a high-volume vehicle mostly made in America.
6. Toyota Sienna
According to Phong Ly, CEO of iSeeCars, the top 10 lasting 10 years “tend to be largely family cars, so if people buy these cars when they are just starting their families, it stands to reason that these cars would suit them for many years.” Case in point is the Toyota Sienna, that most familial of vehicles. The data revealed 25.4% of the minivan’s owners who bought it new in 2005 still had it in the garage a decade later — probably up until the time the kids went off to college.
5. Honda Odyssey
Another family-first ride, the Honda Odyssey of 2005 had more than its share of long-term commitments. An amazing 25.6% of the original buyers in 2005 still had their Odysseys in 2015, which made it one of the top five for American consumers. With a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA for the 2016 edition, it’s likely today’s buyers will continue considering this vehicle for the long haul. Odyssey had one of its best years in 2005 with 174,275 sales.
4. Toyota Highlander
On the U.S. market since 2002, the Toyota Highlander had a banner year in 2005 when it sold 137,409 units to American consumers. It turns out many of those buyers never let go of the SUV. The iSeeCars study revealed 26.5% of the original owners still had the Highlander in their possession when they went to sell it used. Matching increased sales of SUVs against the declining sales of minivans, you could say these rides are the preferred family cars of 2015 consumers.
3. Toyota RAV4
Though it has become one of America’s most popular vehicles, the Toyota RAV4 did not have quite the same hold over the public back in 2005. In fact, sales were less than a quarter of what they will be in 2015 back then. What it lacked in quantity, however, it made up for in long-term devotion. The study showed 28.2% of those RAV4 buyers in 2005 held onto their rides for at least a decade, putting another feather in the cap of the Japanese automaker.
2. Toyota Prius
Phong Ly, CEO of iSeeCars, took the opportunity to remark on the devotion of Toyota Prius owners in the release of the study. “There is a rather large contingent of Toyota Prius owners that are happily touting the fact that their cars have logged 100,000 miles or more,” Ly said. Once again, Prius answered the bell when it came to the durability of the battery used in its hybrid system. Apparently, they don’t become dilapidated after a decade or more, as 28.5% of those 2005 model buyers still had their cars in 2015.
1. Honda CR-V
The Honda CR-V narrowly beat the Prius with 28.6% of 2005 buyers still holding onto their cars a decade later. Utility, fuel economy, and practicality are the chief draws of this compact SUV, and its popularity is at an all-time high in 2015. Its sales were not quite half its current volume back then, but CR-V buyers ended up being committed for the long haul. All told, more than CR-V buyers were twice as likely to keep their vehicles for a decade when compared to the average car.
Follow Eric on Twitter @EricSchaalNY