The majority of new-car buyers generally hop behind the wheel of their fresh-scented machinery with the thought that they’ll probably have sold it to get something else some five years down the track. But, there’s also a segment of the car-buying market who buy cars with the full intention of keeping them indefinitely, until they either cark it and die or until the cost of keeping it on the road becomes unreasonable.
A new study from the US has identified the top 10 cars that are kept for over 15 years. Although it’s not necessarily the most relevant study to Kiwi readers like you and me, it’s still fascinating reading. And, it’s quite well researched.
Conducted by iSeeCars, the study looked into the histories of 660,000 vehicles built between 1981 and 2005 and sold to new owners in 2020. And, there’s a very distinct trend amongst the group’s findings.
Let’s get it out of the way — the entire top 10 is made up of Japanese manufacturers. No European, Korean, or American cars made the cut — instead there’s seven Toyotas, two Hondas, and a lone Subaru.
Toyota romped home in the study; the superpower manufacturer locking out the top five positions with the Tundra pick-up, Sienna people mover, Tacoma pick-up, Highlander, and — in number one spot — the … Prius? The Honda CR-V, Honda Pilot, Subaru Forester, Toyota 4Runner, and Toyota Sequoia completed the top 10.
The study found that 13.7 per cent of people that bought Priuses new kept them for more than 15 years, which it said was 2.2 times the industry average. The Prius is a curious fixture on the top step for a few reasons. Although the study notes that part of the reason is because green-minded early adopters are conscious of the environment and want to hang onto their cars for longer, the very notion of ‘early adopters’ generally relies on people with itchy feet who like changing their phones, their televisions, and their cars to the latest and greatest.
“Japanese vehicles, especially Toyota and Honda, are known for their reliability and durability and attract practical consumers who want vehicles that can be kept on the road as long as possible,” said iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer.
“Drivers are more likely to hold onto cars that they know they can rely on and don’t require a great deal of expensive maintenance.
“Prius owners who have kept their vehicles on the road for at least 15 years are early adopters of hybrid vehicle technology, and these eco-minded consumers likely want to keep their vehicles for as long as possible. Priuses also attract practical drivers thanks to their fuel economy and their low ownership costs, and prolonged ownership of the vehicle helps drivers maximize their fuel savings.”
The study also covered specific segments, too, most notably SUVs, sports cars, and brands. In the SUV category the Toyota Highlander was a predictable winner (12.4 per cent kept by original owners), over the Honda CR-V and Honda Pilot. In sports cars, meanwhile, the Mazda MX-5 was predictably the most retained car (7.6 per cent) over the BMW Z4 and BMW M5.
Toyota predictably topped the brands list, with a 9.8 per cent retained ownership over Honda (8.1), Subaru (8.0), Acura (7.9), and Mazda (6.3). The industry average across the brands, it says, is 6.1 per cent. Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Chrysler, Nissan, and Lexus make up the rest of the top 10, with no European brands making the list.