Which Cars Do Owners Keep the Longest?
Toyota, Porsche and Ford topped a new study about how long original owners hang onto their cars. Woburn, Mass.-based iSeeCars.com found the Toyota Land Cruiser, Porsche Boxster and Ford Expedition had the longest average length of ownership by the original purchaser, with new Land Cruiser buyers keeping their keys for more than a decade on average. But a few caveats to iSeeCars' study exist, so read on.
The current-generation Land Cruiser is an underwhelming choice, but original owners keep it an average of 10.6 years, according to the website. In total, the top 10 longest-owned cars include four Toyota models, one Porsche, two Fords, one Mercedes-Benz, one Chevrolet and one Audi. The list is heavy on SUVs and sports cars; traditional compact and mid-size sedans, including established models like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, are notably absent.
All 10 cars significantly beat the overall average ownership length of 7.3 years, according to the study, which analyzed 15.7 million used cars sold from 2013 through 2016. But iSeeCars said it looked at original-owner sales for cars that were at least 5 years old to eliminate any effects from leasing. Leases reportedly account for about a third of new-car sales, but they "artificially bring down the averages," iSeeCars editor Jacqui Trotta wrote in an email. "We were interested in when owners choose to put up their new cars for sale, and for leases, owners are obligated to return their cars to the market."
The five-year minimum eliminates any recently introduced models, however, as well as established cars whose original owners simply sold them early. Both factors would lower the average length of original ownership.
iSeeCars was "more interested in ownership longevity of cars," Trotta wrote. "If we could only include cars that were owned for a short period of time and weren't leases, the averages might come down somewhat, but we were less interested in seeing the effect of these kinds of cars and more interested in looking at cars that had been owned at least a few years."
A car has to be in production for at least nine of the past 10 model years for consideration, iSeeCars said. Some models — the Nissan Rogue or Jeep Compass, for example — fulfill that requirement but lack any older model years to drive up the average age by way of owners selling 15- or 20-year-old examples. The study also ignores any discontinued models, so cars with established histories that bit the dust in recent years — think Chevrolet Avalanche or Toyota Matrix — aren't counted.
The Rogue example "is well-taken," Trotta wrote. "We did not make special exceptions for the few edge cases such as these, and as you say, it makes sense that the Rogue's average is lower than the overall average because it has only been around 10 years and can't have 15- or 20-year-old examples."
Indeed, among the average age for popular models, the bottom three cars originated in the mid-2000s, a factor that would eliminate any original sales for especially old examples. With those caveats in mind, here's the study's average age of original ownership among 20 popular cars: