Not for Sale: 10 Cars People Refuse to Give Up

Shot of 2009 Ford Explorer driving on city streets at night
A new study reveals the SUVs and cars people refuse to give up in America. | Ford

There are many ways to prove a car is a winner. Maybe a model you’re considering has excellent reviews from journalists who tried out a loaded tester model. That’s a good start, but if money is an object you’ll want to check on a car’s reliability ratings, too. After all, you could spend tens of thousands of dollars on a car before trading it in or sending it to the junkyard. You may as well save on brake pads and windshield wipers along the way.

Another sign of a winning vehicle is how long people hang onto it. Autos search engine conducts an annual study to see which cars owners held onto the longest before selling, and the results are revealing. For 2017, researchers sifted through 16 million cars sold between 2013 and 2017 to see which had the best track records with their sellers.

You might call them keepers, relationship material, or something similar, but the bottom line is that a vehicle people keep for 10 years must have something special going for it. If you asked, you would hear it’s “not for sale.” Here are the 10 cars and SUVs that topped the list in 2017.

10. Audi TT

View of 2010 Audi TT Roadster with rear view of coupe model in background
2010 Audi TT Roadster and Coupe | Audi

Drivers do not get tired of the Audi TT, which is available as a roadster or a coupe. There have been three models since the car’s debut in 1998, and the 2006 redesign was a winner from any perspective. Data showed owners held onto the TT for an average of 8.8 years before putting it on the used market. Good luck prying one equipped with Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system away from someone before then.

9. Toyota 4Runner

4Runner '10
The Toyota 4Runner turns up on every list predicting longevity in a vehicle. | Toyota

There are some vehicles that pass all the tests. They get stellar reliability ratings from Consumer Reports year after year before they turn up on the list of cars that lasted 200,000 miles or longer. Toyota 4Runner is one such vehicle, and therefore it’s no surprise owners are keeping this model for the long haul. It took an average of 8.8 years before someone went to sell their 4Runner, according to the iSeeCars data.

8. Toyota Avalon

 View of the 2009 Toyota Avalon
The 2009 Toyota Avalon was a car people held onto for an average of 9 years. | Toyota

4Runner is never the only Toyota that turns up on a list of most dependable cars. The full-size Avalon sedan is another perennial contender whenever reliability and longevity are concerned. In this year’s iSeeCars study, Avalon owners were going 8.8 years before letting go of this sedan. Now a favorite in ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft, you will find competition for affordable used Avalon models from 2011 and later.

7. Chevrolet Corvette

Front three quarter view of silver Chevy Corvette Z06 from 2006
2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 | Chevrolet

For many Chevy Corvette owners, buying the legendary sports car checks off a major life goal. The record shows they don’t let their ‘Vette go once they get one. iSeeCars CEO Phong Ly suggested the timelessness of its design also contributed to its 8.8 years of average ownership. “Corvette, which is in its seventh generation, has a modernized version of the classic lines it first sported in 1953, making it easy to spot by even a novice car enthusiast,” Ly said.

6. Toyota Sequoia

Back three quarter view of the 2008 Toyota Sequoia SUV
Nearly nine years later, models like the 2008 Toyota Sequoia were still in the hands of their original owners. | Toyota

In iSeeCars’ study of vehicles with 200,000 miles or more, Toyota Sequoia ranked second among cars changing hands in the past few years. Sequoia owners verified the SUV’s reputation for durability by keeping theirs for 8.9 years on average in the 2017 study. Compared to the average for all cars (7.3 years), you’re looking at another 19 months for Sequoia owners.

5. Ford Explorer

View of 2008 Ford Explorer in off-road setting
2008 Ford Explorer | Ford

Prior to the redesign for 2011, Ford Explorer sported the body-on-frame SUV construction that recalled its Ranger roots. Those models, especially the fourth-gen Explorer that rolled out in 2005, have been keepers for American drivers. On average, drivers held onto the SUV a whopping 8.9 years before letting go. Another notable thing about Explorer: It was the only model among the top 20 in sales that turned up on this list.

4. Mercedes-Benz SLK

View of 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK sports car in silver
The 2008 Mercedes SLK hardly aged in the following decade. | Mercedes-Benz

One look at the Mercedes-Benz SLK-class from the late 2000s shows these models have hardly aged. The retractable hardtop allows drivers to enjoy both the look of a stylish coupe when up, and the fun of a roadster when down. Why would you want to give this car up? Those who bought an SLK350 or road-burning SLK55 AMG back in the day saw no reason to do so. They kept their Benzes an average of 9.0 years before selling.

3. Ford Expedition

Rear three-quarter view of black Ford Expedition SUV from 2007 model year
2007 Ford Expedition | Ford

With the Ford F-150 providing its foundation, it’s easy to see how the Expedition SUV has earned a reputation for being bulletproof. No vehicle had more models showing 200,000 miles on the odometer in a 2017 iSeeCars study, and most of those likely came from their original owners. Third-generation models that hit the road starting in 2006 were real keepers, lasting 9.0 years on average before owners decided to sell. We’ll see if the redesigned 2018 model can continue the run.

2. Porsche Boxster

View of a silver 2006 Porsche Boxster roadster with the top down at dusk
2006 Porsche Boxster | Porsche

It won’t come as a surprise that people keep Porsches for a long time, and the brand’s Boxster roadster led the pack among all passenger cars in this study. Boxster owners who went for the second-generation model (2004 to 2012) were unwilling to let go until 9.9 years later on average. Considering this car is among the most affordable models Porsche sells, it appears there was no compromise on quality here. Even at $50,000, you’ll get a Porsche and the decade of thrills that comes with it.

1. Toyota Land Cruiser

Side view of gray Toyota Land Cruiser on the road, 2007 model year
2007 Toyota Land Cruiser | Toyota

While every car on this list rated well, only the Toyota Land Cruiser posted over a decade in the hands of original owners. The iSeeCars study found Land Cruiser owners held onto their SUVs some 10.6 years — more than three years better than the average car. Phong Ly suggested its formula of impressive durability and upscale touches at a reasonable price made it such a keeper. Most competition existed in another price bracket entirely.

“With competitors like Land Rover’s Range Rover and the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, it’s the least expensive option when comparably equipped,” Ly said. In other words, buyers customized their Land Cruisers and dug in for the long haul. No wonder they wouldn’t give them up until a decade passed.