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Study: Top Cars for Long-Term Satisfaction


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Subaru, Toyota Owners Held Onto Vehicles Longest Over Last 10 Years

Cars can create a lot of emotions for owners: They can bring joy, frustration, exhilaration, exhaustion. And some models drive long-term satisfaction, winning over owners who hang on to them for the best part of a decade. As the 2010s draw to a close in just a few days, it’s time to see which cars, trucks and SUVs got the most love from their owners.

At the top of our list? Subaru and Toyota dominate, taking eight spots in our Top 10 list of the vehicles with the longest ownership from model years 2010 through 2019. We dug into Carfax’s vast data on vehicles from those model years to see which ones endeared themselves to their owners most. Once we crunched the numbers, we came up with a list of 125 vehicles.

Here are the Top 10, along with their relative owner satisfaction scores out of 100:

Top 10 Vehicles With the Highest Owner Satisfaction

Breaking Down the Top 50

Five of the Top 10 are SUVs, two are minivans and three are cars. Japanese companies rule this list; Subaru has the top two spots, Honda has one and Toyota grabs most of the rest – a whopping six out of 10. The sole non-Japanese brand is Dodge, with its Grand Caravan.

However, these aren’t the only brands to make our larger list. Among the Top 30 vehicles, there are models from Chevrolet, Hyundai, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Nissan. Acura, Buick, Ford, GMC, Jeep, Kia and Volvo vehicles also placed in the Top 50. There aren’t many luxury cars in the Top 50, but that’s likely because many luxury buyers lease their cars, keeping them only for the typical 2- to 3-year lease term.

Family haulers – which includes SUVs and minivans – is the most popular category in the Top 50, with 23. That’s a result of both their sales gains over the last 10 years as well as their versatility. They are joined in the Top 50 by six pickup trucks from Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Nissan and Toyota.

The Top 50 contains mostly practical models, but the Mazda Miata, the affordable convertible that turned 30 in 2019, also made the list.

In terms of very long-term loyalty among owners of 2010 models, 42% of Toyota Sienna minivans and Toyota Highlander SUVs in our sample still had their original owner, the highest percentage of any models on our list.

SUVs With the Highest Owner Satisfaction

Cars With the Highest Owner Satisfaction

Luxury Vehicles With the Highest Owner Satisfaction

Model Score
Volvo XC60 | 83
Acura MDX | 78
Buick LaCrosse | 78
Lexus ES | 77
Lexus RX | 77
Acura RDX | 76
Lexus GX | 75
Buick Enclave | 73
Porsche Cayenne | 71
Audi Q5 | 70

Pickup Trucks With the Highest Owner Satisfaction

Model Score
Toyota Tacoma | 87
Toyota Tundra | 86
Nissan Frontier | 86
Ford F-150 | 81
GMC Sierra | 79
Chevrolet Silverado | 78

How Did We Come Up With This List?

First, we only included models that were made in every model year from 2010 through 2019. Then, we looked at a sample of data from across the country to make sure that a meaningful number of each of these models are still on the road. We only included vehicles that we knew were personal cars, so that rental or commercial vehicles didn’t muddy the waters. After that, we calculated the percentage that have had only one owner over their lifetime.

We gave the most weight to models from 2010-2013. Cars that have been owned for that length of time – from seven to 10 years – exceed the average length of ownership in this country, which is a bit more than 6.5 years, according to the most recent IHS Markit research.