This post is contributed by Julie Blackley, Communications Manager for

There are a lot of things to look forward to with a new vehicle purchase. There’s the maiden voyage, the lingering new car smell, and the exciting technological amenities your old car didn’t have. But perhaps the most satisfying is one that often takes years to achieve: making the final car payment.

After that final payment is made, savvy consumers will want to keep their car on the road for as long as possible in order to maximize their investment. But which cars do people actually hold onto for the longest time?

The cars that owners hang onto

In a first-of-its-kind study, the automotive research group iSeeCars set out to determine which cars were most likely to be kept by their original owner for 15 years or more. iSeeCars analyzed over 650,000 used cars from model years 1981-2002, sold between January and November 2017. The models were then ranked by the original-owner percentage.

The results showed that 15 models were at least 1.6 times more likely than average to be kept by the original owners for at least 15 years.

Here are the findings:

Top 15 Cars Owners Keep for At Least 15 Years

Rank Model % Original owners keeping car for 15+ years Compared to average
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 6.8%


Toyota dominated with models, including the top-ranked Highlander, while a single German import, the Volkswagen Golf, narrowly made the otherwise exclusively Japanese list in the fifteenth spot. Known for setting quality and reliability standards, Japanese automakers showed that they are the dominant leaders of producing cars that people hold onto the longest before trading in.

“There is an option on this list for every type of consumer,” according to iSeeCars CEO Phong Ly. “While SUVs appear most often, there’s a nice mix of vehicle types including pickup trucks, minivans, sedans, a compact car, and even a hybrid.”

So, whether you need a bigger car to accommodate a growing family, a pickup for hauling heavy loads, or even a compact car that can be parallel parked more easily, there are plenty of potential new cars to suit your needs (and keep for a long time).

For more details about the study and its findings, visit the iSeeCars blog.

Julie is the Communications Manager for, who aims to equip consumers with the tools to find the best car deals. When she isn’t writing about cars, she is likely wrangling her 2 small children in or out of them. Despite her line of work, running will always be her preferred mode of transportation.


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