Which new cars do Americans hang on to the longest before selling? A mix of sleek sports cars and hulking SUVs, according to a new study by automotive research site iSeeCars.com.
Each of the 10 longest-kept vehicles stay in their original owner's garage for 8.8 years or more, compared with an average of 7.3 years for all vehicles that original owners sold from the start of 2013 to the end of 2016.
In reviewing these 15 million cars, iSeeCars CEO Phong Ly said it's not broad categories but specific qualities of individual vehicles that prompt their owners to keep them. For instance, the Toyota Land Cruiser tops the list at 10.6 years on average with the original owner.
"The Land Cruiser has a very niche buyer who's looking for rugged off-road capability but also luxury features," said Ly. "With competitors like Land Rover's Range Rover and the Mercedes-Benz G Class, it's the least expensive option when comparably equipped."
Four sports cars in the top 10 -- Mercedes-Benz SLK, Porsche Boxster, Chevrolet Corvette and Audi TT -- tend to appear similar from one model year to the next. "These cars all have a timeless look that makes them instantly recognizable on the road. As a result, older models of these cars don't look outdated," said Ly.
The other big SUVs on the list -- Ford Expedition and Explorer, Toyota Sequoia and Toyota 4Runner -- are mostly used as family haulers. Ly suspects their owners hang on to these SUVs until their children are nearly grown and they can get something smaller. The only sedan in the top 10, Toyota Avalon, is large and roomy, and may well also be used by families.
Overall, Americans hang on to their cars a long time. The average age of all vehicles on American roads is nearly 11 years. But of course that includes vehicles that were bought most recently as used cars. Sales by first owners occur on average after 7.3 years -- in many cases, one or two years after the initial auto loan is paid off. As cars have become more expensive, the length of auto loans has stretched out, with five-year loans now common.
Of the most popular new cars in the American market, only Ford Explorer makes the longest-held list. And the two most popular sedans -- Honda Accord (8.4 years) and Toyota Camry (8 years) just missed making the cut. The most popular pickups -- Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and Ram 1500 -- all were kept for lengths quite near the overall average.