Whether by necessity or choice, U.S. motorists are holding onto their cars for longer than ever, with the age of the average vehicle on the road at a record-high 10.8 years, according to the research company R.L. Polk in Southfield Mich. By comparison, the average life expectancy of a new car in 1930 was a scant 6.75 years.
“Owners who keep their vehicles beyond the manufacturer’s warranty period are able to have greater peace of mind that vehicles are becoming increasingly more dependable,” says David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates.
How long can a typical car or truck last these days? We recently checked the used car classifieds at AutoTrader.com and uncovered a long list of creampuffs in all vehicle classes that were not only pushing the limits of longevity, but had enough left in the tank to be seeking new owners. These included a 1993 Honda Civic coupe with 355,720 miles, a 1994 Toyota Land Cruiser SUV with 332,357 miles, a Nissan 300ZX convertible with 330,000 miles and a Ford F-150 regular cab pickup that’s clocked 290,000 miles.
“Today’s cars are built to last as long as 250,000 miles or more with simple routine care,” says ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician and Chicago Tribune auto-service columnist Bob Weber.
At that, some models are easier to keep running than others. An owner is more likely to hold onto a vehicle for an extended length of time if it doesn’t suffer from chronic breakdowns and isn’t overtly costly to maintain or repair. With those criteria in mind we assembled a list of 10 model-year 2013 vehicles that can reasonably be expected to keep up with traffic for at least 250,000 miles.
For starters, all of the cars and trucks on our list received above average scores for both initial quality and mechanical reliability over the first three years of ownership from J.D. Power and Associates. What’s more, each is predicted to deliver better- or much-better-than-average long-term dependability based on ownership experiences surveyed by Consumer Reports. We also consulted maintenance and repair-cost predictions from Intellichoice.com to ensure that any of the cars and trucks among our recommendations would not become unduly costly to keep running.
Admittedly, this methodology favors time-tested models that have clocked at least a modest ownership history and tends to exclude both promising newcomers like the Chevrolet Spark and Dodge Dart, as well as cars that recently received extensive mechanical redesigns like the Ford Fusion and Escape. What’s more, we left several otherwise amenable and reliable hybrid cars off our 250,000-mile list, including the extended-range electric Chevrolet Volt, because of what could be prohibitive costs to replace their batteries at some time during a prolonged ownership period.
Like all the model-year 2013 cars and trucks we’re predicting to last for 250,000 miles with proper care, the RDX gets high marks from J.D. Power and Associates for both initial quality and mechanical reliability over the initial three-year ownership period, received better-than-average ratings for durability from Consumer Reports and is expected to be reasonably inexpensive to maintain and repair, according to data compiled by Intellichoice.com. The agile RDX was upgraded for 2013 with the Honda Accord’s powerful and proven V6 engine and assorted improvements that include a smoother ride and reduced levels of noise, vibration and harshness.
This versatile cross between a full-size SUV and pickup truck continues for what is its final model year before being discontinued. Powered by a robust V8 engine, the Avalanche remains the only four-door pickup with the ability to carry eight-foot-long objects thanks to a “midgate” door that opens up the cargo bed into the rear passenger cabin.
Though it’s largely shunned by pickup purists, the car-based V6-powered Ridgeline is ideal for light-duty hauling and/or for active families who prefer to tote their recreational gear in a small pickup bed rather than soil the interiors of their SUVs. The cargo bed comes with what is essentially a lockable trunk and a novel tailgate that can either flip down or swing open like a car door.
Lexus RX 350
This popular midsize luxury crossover SUV is refreshed for 2013 with modest styling changes that include Lexus’ new signature “spindle shaped” front grille. It remains roomy, comfortable and capable, offers a full range of high-tech and upscale features and comes powered by one of the best V6 engines in the industry.