Longest Lasting Cars: A One-And-Done Buying Guide

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably done the number-crunching to find the longest lasting cars on the market. Why? Obviously, because cars are incredibly expensive, so it’s worth putting some effort into knowing which car will stretch out those dollars the longest. I’m pretty sure this is something my Tesla-driving friend didn’t do.

He and anyone else who drives a Tesla, or an F150 for that matter. But, worry not, if you happen to have fallen into that trap, it’s never too late to fix whatever’s left of your finances and budget.

For some reason, a lot of people “conveniently” overlook the true cost of car ownership just so that they can look cool. Instead of asking themselves how much car they can actually afford, they dive right into the deep end and hope for the best. This is why most people spend more money on car ownership than on home ownership. Pity.

This one’s got no choice. It has to be the longest-lasting car.

Personally, I would never finance anything that’s not an investment, and you shouldn’t either. It’s a very bad habit. Some people think credit is just money from nowhere that they are entitled to… WRONG! The interest you pay on credit is a quick reminder. If you’re getting finance for property ownership or any other form of real estate, that’s a different story.

A car for your personal everyday use is NOT an investment. The more expensive it is, the more money you’ll probably lose in the process. The car of your dreams may not be the most financially ideal car for you. Accept it and deal with it.

Ideal car

It’s all good and well to want to own a flashy sports car that will leave people’s tongues wagging whenever you drive by, but it’s not the smartest financial decision you could ever make. Far from it. Those hardly ever fall within the category of longest lasting cars.

The only difference between flushing your money down the toilet and buying a brand-new car, is that the first is the quickest way to prove you’re an absolute idiot, while the latter is a more fun and enjoyable experience. Or at least that’s just my take on the entire thing.

The newer your car is, the more money you’ll lose over time because boy, do those things depreciate rapidly! Instead of celebrating driving out of the dealership with a new car, consider the fact that new cars lose an average of 11% of their value immediately once you’re out of that dealership. Pretty crazy, isn’t it?!

Ideally, we should all be looking for a car that has low upfront costs, low maintenance costs, lasts a very long time, and uses minimal gas. Surprisingly, these cars are not as rare as you might think. All it takes is a little research and comparisons before making the big purchase.

One thing I like to do is read reviews, interviews and testimonials from people who either have or have had whatever it is that I’m looking to buy. It might take hours (or days, or weeks), but it’s worth it. It’s a whole lot better than having a piece of money-eating metal in your garage.

The longest lasting brands with minimal maintenance

The truth is, any car can last forever if you just pour money into its repairs, but some cars were made to last. Those are the longest lasting cars that should actually be on your wishlist. In general, different brands have different goals. I know what you’re thinking – any of the lowest lasting brands often has ugly cars or they don’t perform well. Hmm…. Debatable.

For example, if we look at Porsche, that’s a brand that’s all about performance. Volvo, on the other hand, is pushing safety, while some American and Japanese cars seem to be all about boring ol’ reliability. If we had to zoom in on those considered to be a top 10 longest lasting brand, the list would look something like this:

RankCar Model% of cars that reach over 200K miles
10Toyota Prius3.9%
9Toyota Avalon3.9%
8Toyota Tundra4%
7Chevrolet Tahoe4.4%
6Ford Expedition4.5%
5Toyota 4Runner4.6%
4GMC Yukon XL5.2%
3Chevrolet Suburban6.6%
2Toyota Sequoia 14.2%
1Toyota Land Cruiser 18.2%
Average for all vehicles 1.2%
Longest Lasting Cars summary

And no, this post was NOT sponsored by Toyota, nor is it a puff piece for the brand. It’s quite clear that Toyota owns a massive part of this list, so it’s safe to assume that Toyota engineers are after a safe mom and pop car.

Lowest cost of ownership

Let’s get one thing straight, a reliable car is only useful if it doesn’t cost a lot along the way, so identifying cars with the lowest cost of ownership is key! The cost of ownership is primarily determined by factors such as depreciation, fuel costs, interest, insurance, maintenance and repairs, and sales tax.

Taking all of this into consideration, many Toyota owners are pretty keen to hold on to their vehicles because they have the lowest cost of ownership. To top it all off, if/when they do decide to finally sell their vehicles, they become an easy sell because of that very same reason.

Oh, and the fact that some of the longest lasting cars have only had one or two owners and that’s somewhat more comforting for a potential buyer.

The winner

Toyota is very easily the longest-lasting brand based on historical performance. Also, the cheap end of the Toyota range (the likes of Prius, Yaris, Matrix) accounts for some of the cheapest cars on the market. A decent number of Prius owners say that they have kept their cars for more than a decade! What are the chances of that happening with the flashier rides?

Coming in second is its Japanese counterpart, Honda.

Unless something cool and electric comes out from them, my money is on the gas-sipping Prius being the most cost-effective car to own. Gas prices are only going to go up, and up, and up…

What about electric cars?

For most people, the extra cost of an electric car can never balance out the money spent. Some day – definitely not this week or next month – there will be a tipping point and all the car brands will pile in. For now, though, Tesla is steering the electric car ship in all of its super cool glory, but it’s far from being the low-cost and long-lasting car you’re looking for.

TL;DR

  • Toyota is quite a safe bet and is widely viewed as the longest lasting brand with the longest lasting cars. It makes up 60% of the top 10 longest lasting cars.
  • Cars can be really expensive and it’s a purchase you need to make with your eyes wide open.
  • The ideal car should have the lowest cost of ownership, considering factors such as depreciation, fuel costs, interest, insurance, maintenance and repairs, as well as sales tax.
  • Electric vehicles (currently dominated by Tesla) are an option if you want to cut down on fuel expenses, but Tesla is definitely not the longest lasting brand with the lowest cost of ownership – consider a more fuel-efficient car instead.

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