At what point are you willing to accept a low-ball offer for your old beater?
Is it when the tranny blows out? Or does it eventually come through the scourge of rust, and the constant breaking of electric doo-dads that no longer work all through your doo-dah-day?
Some folks simply get bored of their ride. While others just try to drive their cars until their bodies become the rolling representation of swiss cheese.
Everyone has a reason to curb a car. Thanks to the efforts of Nick Lariviere (<— Click the link!), and the cooperation of an automotive conglomerate with more money than some state governments, I now have 257,020 purely anecdotal examples of this type of personal decision making.
I now need to figure out one simple thing.
What does all this data tell me?
Well, for one thing, I’ve figured out that a lot of this information reaffirms my past prejudices about what tends to be worth buying at the whoelsale auctions, and what vehicles should be avoided at all costs.
So what to buy used then? OK. Here are the top ten most reliable used vehicles according to the TI-QI Index.
1. Lexus LX Series
Quality Index Rating: 8.09
Sample Size: 230
See how that little yellow hump peaks at right around 200,000 miles?
These vehicles are the automotive version of granite. They are heavy as hell, don’t age, and will most assuredly squash off whatever vehicular bugs and cockroaches are on the road should the Zombie Apocalypse ever take place.
2. Toyota Land Cruiser
Quality Index Rating: 7.42
Sample Size: 183
The Land Cruiser would be the Toyota of Lexuses if Lexus had a Toyota that wasn’t already a Lexus. See what I mean? Not really? Neither do I.
Just look at that nice big yellow wave of space after the two intersection points and forget I ever wrote that.
3. Ford E250
Quality Index Rating: 6.37
Sample Size: 109
The van of choice for locksmiths, utility workers, parts haulers and a highway beacon for young ambulance chasers who can’t afford their daytime TV commercials just yet.
I have a theory that when Comcast and AT&T are forced into the bankruptcies they rightly deserve, these vehicles will follow them into extinction.
Every one of them drinks gas like an old Lincoln, and there is already a massive glut of these vans in the used car marketplace.
You can’t kill em’. But like minivans, the buyer base is shrinking.
4. Lexus LS
Quality Index Rating: 5.99
Sample Size: 561
Okay, the orange hump represents all the vehicles traded in before the Lexus on average.
The yellow bulge after the intersection point represents all the LS models that are kept for the longer haul. Note the substantial difference in the 250k to 300k zone.
Green means great. Yellow means good. Red means Suzuki.
5. Dodge Sprinter
Quality Index Rating: 5.94
Sample Size: 43
Okay, 43 vehicles don’t exactly offer a big slice full of data. What matters here is the name. Dodge.
Dodge, as in thankfully nowhere near a typical Dodge. It’s a Mercedes that was once sold as a Freightliner and is now just a turbodiesel Benz in drag.
6. Toyota 4Runner
Quality Index Rating: 5.8
Sample Size: 1626
Another Toyota SUV that consumes gas with aplomb. These things are less economical than a Town Car, and almost as good looking, but that doesn’t matter in the end.
If the LX and Land Cruiser are the king of SUV’s on an international scale, then the 4Runner is Gollum equipped with a jedi sword, an UZI and a chainsaw.
7. Toyota Avalon
Quality Index Rating: 5.15
Sample Size: 1125
You see a trend here? That’s right! The first five vehicles are all built on truck and SUV platforms, and the other two can cause numbness of the extremities.
What helps the Avalon is that the first two generations were insanely over-engineered, and most mature folks like to drive their ride with a tap instead of a stomp.
8. Lexus GX
Quality Index Rating: 4.93
Sample Size: 251
What the hell is a GX? Lexus needs to stop using acronyms and start using names such as, “Endurante” and “Hedgehog”.
On second thought, maybe GX is perfectly fine.
9. Ford Excursion
Quality Index Rating: 4.9
Sample Size: 279
The Ford Canyonero really isn’t an SUV. It’s the future of family housing after the US government decides that free enterprise is too expensive.
10. Saturn LS1
Quality Index Rating: 4.88
Sample Size: 57
Who? What? Huh?
Well, I have this theory… GM designed these Saturns to run on meth.
At least it seems to attract that type of customer base in my neck of the woods. I have one of these that’s now on it’s third run through with the local meth clientele.
The first customer had a wife and kid on meth. The second was a user of meth, and the third is a distributor of meth.
When I first got it, my wife liked the color and wanted to keep it. But it never ran quite right for her. It needed meth.
As soon as I fixed the fuel pump and retailed it, no problems. It has gone through three addicts so far and has taken more abuse than the local public defender. Still runs fine.
Why? It must be the meth. I can think of no other reason why it’s in the top ten.