Monday Mileage Champion: Lawdy! Lawdy!

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
monday mileage champion lawdy lawdy

Lawdy! Lawdy! Guess who’s 40!

Well, it happened. After a weekend where my daughter scores the game winning basket and the trade-ins numbered 6432, I hit the golden age of middle age.

As for the 1983 Jeep Grand Wagoneer in the picture, would you believe 403,224 miles? That little factoid was just the very tip of a long data drilldown.

Not to mention a few unusual future contests between the automakers in what will now be called the Trade-In Quality Index… or TIQI for short!

The grandest of Wagoneers was followed by a Ford truck and six consecutive Toyota products. All in all, the quintet of Ford trucks, Chevy trucks, Hondas, Toyotas, and Panther vehicles took 23 of the top 30 mileage spots. If you were extra kind and added Dodge trucks and Jeep SUV’s into the mix, that number swelled to 27 out of 30 top spots.

But that wasn’t the big surprise. Not even close. For that you have to start with Europe. All of Europe.

The European nameplates encompassed 13 different brands, over 60 nameplates, and exactly 1018 trade-ins this past week. Only 48 of those vehicles had over 180,000 miles, and only 20 of the 1018 reached the ripe old automotive age of 18. I should mention now that the outift furnishing me with all this data wears a nice big smiley face of dealerships across the USA with only a few spots where rust is an issue.

So I’ve made the longevity measurement a bit further out so that maybe, perhaps, we could look at the impact OBD-II standards will have on the longevity of vehicles by next year.

Anyhow, the European marques lost to Toyota and Honda on both measurements. Not to mention a long list of others. What I didn’t expect was that all 13 European brands would lose to the Honda Accord alone and nearly lose to the Toyota Camry.

Vehicles with over 180k at trade-in

Accord 58 / 204 vehicles

Camry 45 / 171 vehicles

EU 48 / 1018 (VW, Audi, BMW, Volvo, SAAB, Land Rover, Jaguar, Mercedes, Mini, Maserati had 1, Porsche, Smart, Lotus)

Now keep in mind, a team of twelve people are tracking an awful lot of criteria at this point. The data is a bit overwhelming. So here is a Cliff Notes version of week one.

Those with the healthiest ratio of vehicles traded-in at over 180k, versus those traded in at less than 120k were…

Toyota 1.52

Honda 1.61

Lexus 1.62

Chevy Truck 2.07

and the big surprise

Pontiac 2.45

This means that for every Pontiac traded in at over 180k, there were approximately two and a half that were traded in at less than 120k. Pontiac barely beat out Acura and Ford trucks by the slimmest of margins. However we are incorporating a long list of other criteria (see the spreadsheet) along with time of ownership into this study. (for those that qualify)

By that measurement alone the winners for week one are…

1) Buick

2) Acura

3) Toyota

4) Honda

5) Cadillac

Keep in mind this is only week one and I am willing to give in to the fact that state registrations will provide a far better record of longevity than this 300k vehicle study. Still, the folks coming in to trade these vehicles typically use them as commuters instead of garage queens and barn molderizers. The Buicks and Cadillacs from 1995 on down may not be driven a lot, and especially by us enthusiasts. But they are well regarded by the grey haired Shoney’s crowd here in North Georgia and elsewhere. So it’s only fitting we give them a little bit of their due.

Now to the fun part. Out of all the laggards that are higher volume brands, it appears that Volkswagen, Hyundai and Kia are going to suffer the most. Volkswagen only attained 5 vehicles with over 180k out of 221. Who beat them?

This model. The Pontiac Grand Prix. A model that is not synonymous with any level of quality. Good or bad. The Grand Prix realized 11 vehicles out of 50 with over 180k miles. So for the remainder of this year we are going to track how the Grand Prix does relative to the #2 sized manufacturer in the world.

Then we have Kia and Hyundai. Personaly, I am just dead dog tired of having folks tell me how wonderful these brands are compared with so-called crappy domestics. So I’m going to let these South Korean juggernauts do battle with GM’s defunct import fighter. You know. The one that doesn’t have the word Old in it. The one to the left. No, not SAAB. The other one!

South Korea vs. Saturn

8 / 203 vs. 11 / 95

There is an awful lot of good data we have at the moment, and as we get more of it, we’ll delve in deeper to mehanical issues and the weaknesses and strengths of specific models. For now enjoy the spreadsheet below. All the best!

Join the conversation
6 of 38 comments
  • Vent-L-8 Vent-L-8 on Jan 15, 2013

    how were are able to tell the millage of the Jeep? The odometer rolls at 100k. (At least it does on my 1986 GW).

    • See 2 previous
    • Moparman426W Moparman426W on Jan 15, 2013

      @mikeg, how do you know that a previous owner didn't add aftermarket intake, exhaust and ignition parts to improve performance and efficiency? How do you even know whether or not it has the original engine, since Mr. Lang doesn't seem to even bother to check for that?

  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Jan 15, 2013

    The Saturns have plastic body panels that don't accumulate door dings, surface rust or paint fade. I wonder how much a car in decent cosmetic shape benefits in longevity by being more likely to be repaired because, gosh, it's still a good looking car. In the case of Saturn, it can't be because of the state-of-the-art drivetrain.

    • Dolorean Dolorean on Jan 16, 2013

      @Lorenzo, very pithy, but just because a car has plastic body panels (which, btw, are insanely easy and cheap to maintain and replace and look good for years) doesn't mean its internal workings are plastic as well. The original DOHC 1.9L 4cyl was a very, very reliable engine due to in large part to the use of an internal, lubricated timing chain instead of a serpentine belt. It's why you still see the cockroach, ever-present '93 SL2 still rolling and looking good while I haven't spotted a Hyundai S-Coupe in a very long time. In 2007, Saturn did away with the plastic body cladding with the demise of the Ion. From then on, Saturn's were rebadged Opel's like my Astra, near badged like the Sky, Aura, and Vue, or GM corporate platforms like the Relay and Outlook. I'll bet if you and I went to or Autotrader and searched for a 2008 Saturn v. a similiar H/K, we'd find helluva lot of good Saturns for sale at higher values than the Korean.

  • SilverCoupe I am one of those people whose Venn diagram of interests would include Audis and Formula One.I am not so much into Forums, though. I spend enough time just watching the races.
  • Jeff S Definitely and very soon. Build a hybrid pickup and price it in the Maverick price range. Toyota if they can do this soon could grab the No 1 spot from Maverick.
  • MaintenanceCosts Would be a neat car if restored, and a lot of good parts are there. But also a lot of very challenging obstacles, even just from what we can see from the pictures. It's going to be hard to justify a restoration financially.
  • Jeff S Ford was in a slump during this era and its savior was a few years away from being introduced. The 1986 Taurus and Sable saved Ford from bankruptcy and Ford bet the farm on them. Ford was also helped by the 1985 downsize front wheel drive full sized GM cars. Lincoln even spoofed these new full size GM cars in an ad basically showing it was hard to tell the difference between a Cadillac, Buick, and Oldsmobile. This not only helped Lincoln sales but Mercury Grand Marquis and Ford Crown Victoria sales. For GM full size buyers that liked the downsized GM full size 77 to 84 they had the Panther based Lincoln Town Cars, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Ford Crown Victorias that were an alternative to the new GM front wheel drive full size cars that had many issues when they were introduced in 1985 and many of those issues were not resolved for several years. The Marks were losing popularity after the Mark Vs.
  • SCE to AUX Toyota the follower, as usual. It will be 5 years before such a vehicle is available.I can't think of anything innovative from them since the Gen 1 Prius. Even their mythical solid state battery remains vaporware.They look like pre-2009 General Motors. They could fall hard.