Just as human life expectancy has risen dramatically in recent decades, our cars are lasting for many tens of thousands of miles more than they used to. Where the typical car lasted for only 6.75 years in 1930, today the average auto is still running strong after a record-high 10.8 years, according to the research company R.L. Polk in Southfield, Mich.
How long can an attentive owner expect a car or truck to last these days? We recently checked online used-car classifieds and uncovered a long list of models 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 1983 Isuzu Rodeo SUV that was still going strong at 381,960 miles, a 1993 Honda Civic coupe with 355,720 miles on the odometer, a 1994 Toyota Land Cruiser SUV with 332,357 miles, a Nissan 300ZX convertible with 330,000 and a Ford F-150 regular cab pickup that’s clocked 290,000 miles.
However, some models are inherently more amenable to keep running than others. An owner is more likely to hold onto a vehicle for an extended length of time if it performs well in the first place, doesn’t suffer from chronic breakdowns and isn’t too costly to maintain or keep in good repair. With those criteria in mind we searched through various ownership data to assemble a list of 10 new cars and trucks that, with proper attention, can reasonably be expected to avoid the scrap heap for 250,000 miles or more.
For starters, all of the cars and trucks on our list received above-average scores for both initial quality and mechanical reliability in surveys conducted by J.D. Power and Associates in Southfield, Mich. What’s more, each is predicted to deliver better - or much-better-than-average - long-term dependability, according to ownership experiences compiled 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 prohibitively costly to keep running.
Admittedly, this methodology favors time-tested models that have clocked at least a modest ownership history and autos that recently received total mechanical redesigns. Still, there’s a lot to be learned from history, and based largely on past performance, here’s our list of 10 vehicles that should be among the longest distance runners for the 2013 model year:
• Acura RDX. The agile RDX was upgraded this year with the Honda Accord’s smooth and powerful V6 engine under the hood and assorted improvements.
• Chevrolet Avalanche. This versatile cross between a full-size SUV and crew cab pickup can carry eight-foot-long objects via a “midgate” door that extends the cargo bed into the rear passenger cabin.
• Honda Ridgeline. This car-based midsize pickup is ideal for light-duty hauling and for those who prefer to tote recreational gear in a small pickup bed rather than soil the interiors of their SUVs.
• Lexus RX 350. Lexus’ popular midsize luxury crossover SUV remains roomy, comfortable and capable with a full range of high-tech and upscale features offered.
• Mazda MX-5 Miata. This diminutive low-slung roadster continues to deliver enjoyable acceleration and go-kart-like handling prowess.
• Scion xB. This boxy looking tall compact wagon is a good overall performer and boasts generous passenger space and cargo room.
• Scion xD. Boxier and more muscular looking than the typical subcompact, the xD is both urban-hip chic and practical.
• Toyota 4Runner. Toyota’s midsize truck-based SUV is a rugged alternative to more passive crossovers for active families.
• Toyota RAV4. This compact crossover SUV receives myriad improvements and fresh styling for 2013.
• Toyota Yaris. This workman-like subcompact may be small, slow and simple but it’s economical and has a history of durability.