The Top 15 Cars People Keep Driving for 15 Years

One of the most basic tenets of any “green” philosophy is that you don’t want to buy something that’s disposable. It’s reduce, re-use, and recycle, after all. With cars and homes, especially- commodities that require a massive amount of energy to build- you want to buy something that lasts and keep it on the road for as long as you can. That’s what makes the following list, compiled by researchers at iSeeCars, so interesting: the 15 cars people keep driving for 15 years.

That’s right. 15 years. “While a decade on the road used to be a significant milestone for vehicle life expectancy, the elevated quality of cars being produced has raised this standard to beyond ten years ,” said Phong Ly, CEO of iSeeCars. “Japanese automakers are known for setting quality and reliability standards, so it is no surprise that they are the most likely to reach the fifteen-year milestone.”

Some Surprises on the Top 15 Long Lasting Cars List

One car on the list that might surprise some people, though, is the Toyota Prius. When it was launched, many critics declared that the Prius was an example of “planned obsolescence” that would have to be replaced after a few years when its batteries died. Over the past twenty years, however, Toyota has proven that’s not the case. “Hybrid owners (also) have the added incentive to keep their cars on the road for longer in order to accrue fuel savings to offset the increased upfront cost of these vehicles,” Ly noted. “Despite consumers’ concerns about battery durability and the associated high replacement cost, (the Prius’) appearance on the list shows that the reliability of the Prius measures up to Toyota’s conventional counterparts.”

Other than that, the only other big surprises I see are the lack of both American pickup trucks and “premium” brand vehicles of any kind. That might be explained by the fact that the iSeeCars study only includes vehicles that were purchased new- and I think most of the luxe brands are still primarily lease driven when it comes to new car transactions. All the same, it’s worth taking this list with a grain of salt. At least as much salt as you’d take for my list, anyway!

So, here it is. The top 15 cars people keep driving for 15 years list (not a catchy title, I know). Note: it’s not the list of the longest lasting cars- but the list of cars that people buy NEW and KEEP the longest. Which, I mean, that tells us something about Toyota buyers, anyway!


Rank Make + Model % of Cars Owned 15+ Years Compared to Avg.
1 Toyota Highlander 18.3% 2.7x
2 Toyota Sienna 17.1% 2.5x
3 Toyota Tundra 15.7% 2.3x
4 Toyota Prius 15.0% 2.2x
5 Toyota RAV4 14.3% 2.1x
6 Honda Odyssey 12.8% 1.9x
7 Toyota Sequoia 12.8% 1.9x
8 Toyota Tacoma 12.4% 1.8x
9 Honda CR-V 11.9% 1.7x
10 Toyota Avalon 11.7% 1.7x
11 Acura MDX 11.6% 1.7x
12 Toyota Camry 11.5% 1.7x
13 Subaru Forester 11.5% 1.7x
14 Nissan Frontier 11.0% 1.6x
15 Volkswagen Golf 10.6% 1.6x
Average for All Cars 6.8%


I feel like have to say my family has contributed to this list a few times, I think. My wife’s 2nd gen Prius was kept far longer than the national average, and the in-laws’ have a 15 year old Highlander and 1st gen Prius (that was, eventually, replaced by a third gen Prius), as well. As such, I have to say that the iSeeCars list feels true to me, at least. What about you?

You know the drill, gang. Let us know what you think of the iSeeCars list in the comments section, and be sure to include the 2017/18 model cars that you think would last the longest in there, as well. Maybe we’ll make our own list. Enjoy!


Source | Images: iSeeCars, via Jalopnik.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.

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