Forbes recently published an article titled “Cars That Can Last 250,000 Miles (Or More).”
Unfortunately for the author and Forbes, measuring long-term quality of any new or late model is nearly impossible.
Most defects and cost cutting compromises don’t become glaringly obvious until well after the vehicle becomes a common site at the wholesale auto auctions I frequent. That dependable car of yesterday can easily become a rolling pit of the modern day regardless of what seemed to be the reality.
So, I won’t pretend to know the crystal ball of reliability when it comes to any new car. However older used cars are a panacea of good data from actual owners, and to me that’s the only yardstick that truly matters.
Every week another 6,000 to 7,000 vehicles get added to our Trade In Quality Index. This week 22 out of the top 25 vehicles in overall mileage fell into one of four categories.
- Chevy/Ford Truck Or SUV
- Ford Panther Platform
- Honda Car
- Toyota Everything
The other three vehicles that made the Top 25 this week were two Nissan Maximas and 1 Sentra. I do sometimes see a small blip of high mileage Jeep Cherokees and Jeep Grand Cherokees, Ford Tauruses with the Vulcan V6, not to mention a long line of GM vehicles that came with the 3.8 Liter V6 engine.
Everything else pretty much either makes a brief appearance or two in the list (VW TDI’s, 10+ year old Volvos that have working odometers, pre-1996 Benzes), or is simply never in the running (Jaguar, Land Rover, Audi, SAAB).
What makes a given vehicle last far longer than the norm? Or get curbed at the earliest opportunity? For most of us it comes down to three factors.
1) Ease of repair
2) Overall durability of parts
3) Brand perception
Now normally I would offer everyone here a full drill down of each one and how, let’s say, a 1994 Toyota Camry is infinitely simpler to maintain than a 1994 Mercedes S-Class. Or why a rear-wheel drive Volvo wagon is often seen as worthy of long-term investment, while an older Mitsubishi Galant is often curbed at a far earlier point in time.
But I have the flu. So please, feel free to either support or debunk those three factors. Your Uncle Floyd may have owned a full sized Dodge Van back in the day with a quintillion miles on it. That’s fair. However you may have a different conclusion as to why one model is truly better than another.
Do these three factors reflect why a given vehicle is kept over another? Or am I missing something else in the mix? As Linda Richman would say when she feels a bit tired and vehklempt, “Discuss!”