As the New York Times puts it, “200,000 is the new 100,000” when it comes to how many miles you can expect to get out of a contemporary vehicle. Cars manufactured in the last decade are receiving fewer consumer complaints due to innovation, the use of higher-quality materials, stiffer government mandates and heightened global competition. This means you no longer have to sacrifice when it comes to finding an affordably-priced used car that delivers premium value in terms of durability, reliability and level of maintenance required. For those in the market for a pre-owned vehicle, we’ve identified some of the top contenders in every category, as well as reliable sources to help you narrow your search:
Looking to the gold standard: You can always count on Consumer Reports to deliver unbiased product testing and consumer-oriented research, and their March 2018 article “10 Cars Proven to Get to 200,000 Miles and Beyond” not only includes those vehicles that have made it past this benchmark, but also did so without costly maintenance. The magazine’s list of trucks, cars, SUVs and minivans are ranked based on the percentage of those with zero claimed problems in the past 12 months. In their words, these are “the most problem-free cars that have proved to go the distance.”
Toyota triumphs: Perhaps not surprisingly, Toyota seems to top research lists as far as brand reliability, as it appears most often and in most categories for going the distance. Toyota’s Camry, Prius, Sienna, Corolla, 4Runner and Highlander held six out of the ten spots on Consumer Reports’ survey, with the Toyota Camry in first place overall. Honda had the second-most models on the Consumer Reports’ list with the Accord, CR-V and Civic. The only non-Toyota or Honda to place was the Ford F-150, but then, Ford has long been the ideal by which other trucks are measured against.
What Forbes has to say: Just one month after the Consumer Reports’ results hit the news, Forbes published its own article, “Marathon Runners: Vehicles That Will Last for Over 200,000 -- Even 300,000 – Miles, citing the automotive website iSeeCars.com, which also compiled a list of ten vehicles they deemed most likely to keep running well past 200,000 miles.
The Toyota theme continues: The two automotive giants Toyota and General Motors prevailed on Forbes’ list, claiming eight of the ten spots, which included the following models: the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Avalon, Toyota Tacoma, GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon XL, Toyota 4Runner, Chevrolet Suburban, Ford Expedition and Toyota Sequoia. As you may have noticed, rugged full-size truck-based SUVs appear multiple times, with just one passenger car, minivan and pickup truck making the cut. Forbes also reported the industry average of models that run past the 200,000-mile marker as 1.2 percent, with the Toyota Sequoia SUV leading at 6.6 percent. Interestingly, this full-size SUV was also named among those most likely to break the 300,000-mile marker.
Could bigger be better? As Forbes suggests, the old adage may hold some truth when it comes to the long-term durability of the vehicles we drive. Because large SUVs feature body-on-frame construction, they are built much like trucks and therefore have comparable durability, according to iSeeCars.com. The iSeeCars’ site explains that these vehicles’ longevity can also be attributed to the fact that they are easier to repair than smaller SUVs. Forbes also contributes their own theory that because there are long periods of time between major revisions of large SUVs, satisfied owners have had fewer reasons to trade them in for a new model.
The final analysis: There are plenty of lists available on the internet suggesting one model or another that will withstand the test of time. The truth is, a percentage of people are rabidly devoted to their brand or model regardless of what the experts say. Just as true is the fact that you can spend significant money on upkeep to get a car to keep running, but that doesn’t make it a good value. The best values are the models that aren’t expensive to maintain past those 200,000 miles, but will keep running given a little care and common sense applied over the long haul. If the car’s owner takes a diligent approach to simple maintenance, many of vehicles you’ve read about here can run smoothly well past the 200,000-mile mark.