Expert Insights

The Longest-Lasting Car in America is a Hybrid

Dave Nichols
August 21, 2023
Cars are lasting longer than ever. But which cars stay the longest with their original owners? Turns out the overall champion is a venerable hybrid hatchback.
2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid Sport

Consumers are Keeping Their Cars for Longer

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – cars just keep getting better and better. Vehicles built today last longer than ever, are generally more reliable, and are better-made – even though they incorporate more sophisticated and complex processes and materials. While many of us become attached to our cars – “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” ­– the reality is that cars don’t break very much at all.

Indeed, over the last decade, data from iSeeCars shows that Americans are keeping their cars longer than ever before. Over the past decade, the average length of ownership has risen 60 percent, and the majority of drivers have kept their longest-held vehicle for eight years, or even more. Tighter tolerances and improved technology mean that many of today’s cars, when maintained well, can go for 250,000 miles or more with no major issues.

Man standing by his Toyota Prius

Toyota Prius is the Longest-Held Vehicle

Many early buyers of the Toyota Prius still have their original vehicle, and the Prius topped iSeeCars’ list of most-kept cars on the road.

13.7 percent of surveyed owners had owned their Prius for 15 years or longer – and 18 percent of Prius owners had owned their Prius for between 10 and 15 years. That means that almost 25 percent of Priuses on the road are over 10 years old, a remarkable achievement for a sophisticated piece of machinery. Indeed, your humble author owns a 2008 Prius with over 300,000 miles.

Honda e CR-V/CR-V hybrid, close up

What Vehicles are Owned the Longest?

Toyota was, more generally, the brand where owners kept their vehicles longest. 12.4 percent of Toyota Highlander owners surveyed had vehicles over 15 years old, including venerable hybrid models. Right behind it was the Toyota Tacoma, with 11.6 percent of owners reporting they had one for 15 years or more. The Sienna minivan – available in fuel-efficient gasoline and hybrid versions – scored almost equally well, at 11.5 percent, with the Toyota Tundra rounding out the top-five at 11.3 percent.

Rounding out the top 10 were a pair of Honda SUVs – the CR-V/CR-V hybrid, with 10.7 percent of owners having kept them for 15 years or more, and the larger Pilot, with 10.4 percent. 9.8 percent of Subaru Forester owners have owned their compact SUV for 15-plus years; that number is 9.4 percent for Toyota 4Runner owners and 9.1 percent for Toyota Sequoia drivers.

Back of Toyota SE Corolla Hybridh

Japanese Brands Lead the Pack

With the entire top-10 list of vehicles kept by their original owners being from Japanese brands, it’s clear that the brands’ reputations for longevity, reliability, and economy are well-earned. This despite the fact that several models come with sophisticated hybrid-electric drivetrains, which are, in theory, more complicated.

As the world transitions to full-electric driving, it will be interesting to see how the list evolves – and which plug-in hybrid and EV models are kept for similarly long periods of time. One thing’s for certain – better materials, longer-lasting finishes, and improved production mean that cars are lasting longer than ever. No matter what kind of vehicle you might be interested in, you can be sure your relationship will be a long one.