Tips, Tricks & Trends

These Are the Car Brands People Keep the Longest

The brilliant folks over at ISeeCars.com compiled data over millions of data points, including owners, vehicles in ownership, and timeline between purchases. They officially analyzed over 350,000 used cars from model years 1981-2004 and sold in 2019.

The result is a comprehensive list of sweet rides, by model and brand, that people keep the longest. If you’re in the market and on the hunt for a new-to-you car, this info might be helpful in identifying the general public’s favorites. We had to find out more about which brands have the longest-running records of ownership.

Why people keep their cars

2019 Toyota Camry
2019 Toyota Camry | Toyota

The average vehicle owner keeps a vehicle for about 8.4 years before buying the next ride. People keep their cars for a variety of reasons. Some have a sentimental attachment to memories behind the wheel. Others collect classic models and opt to restore and maintain their coveted vehicles.

People find niche clubs of enthusiasts who share their brand or model loyalty. For some, keeping their cars only boils down to one thing – they keep running. If your plan is to buy a vehicle to keep for years to come, regardless of your reason, you can take a page from the playbook of those who are still driving these brands and models, 15 years later.

Models kept the most

The results of the project by ISeeCars.com is broken down into various segments. The top 15 lists are sorted into categories. For the luxury cars list, the Acura MDX holds the top spot with 8.4% of owners keeping their MDXs beyond 15 years. The sports car roster has Audi S4 at the helm while the Toyota Tacoma owns the light-duty pickup category.

The notable mentions

In reviewing the automaker brands that top most of these lists with various models, there are a few worth mentioning that didn’t make the top three. If buying American is a priority, you’ll be pleased to know both Chevrolet and GMC both made the cut at numbers ten and nine, respectively. Coming in at number six is Lexus, with 7.3% of owners keeping their cars. Kia and Nissan are also in the top ten brands kept the longest.

The top brands people keep the longest

It may not surprise you to see Hyundai and Mazda on this list. Coming in at number five, Mazda data shows 7.5% of owners keep their cars for 15 plus years. Hyundai slides in at number four with 8.3% of owners keeping their rides. Hondas are the third most popular to keep forever with a 10.6% rate of ownership. Reliability enthusiasts will agree with Subaru coming in second. And, the brand kept the most often and for the longest period of time, is Toyota with 12.7% ownership rate beyond 15 years.

Why this data matters

How long people keep their cars can be an excellent cue for anyone ready to buy a vehicle. All the reliability ratings, studies, and expert reviews can certainly help you make your decision. However, knowing which brands are kept by their original owners beyond the ten and even 15-year mark can speak volumes in reliability.

The top seven SUVs, as an example, are from Japanese automakers. Toyota Tacoma, Tundra, Highlander, Sienna, RAV4, CR-V, Camry, and Corollas all make one or more of the top vehicle lists in this study. Knowing which brands are actually staying with their original owners is a true testament to overall vehicle reliability.

If in your search for a new car means finding the right brand and model that goes the distance and for the long haul, this recent data compilation may help. Toyota, Subaru, and Honda top the brand list of longevity in ownership. If those owners are still driving their models, you can bet 15 years from now, you’ll still be driving yours too.