By on April 15, 2013

The 420,000 mile Ford truck. The 420,000 mile Chevy truck. The 420,000 mile Camry. The 420,000 mile Accord.

I have covered all of these brands and models to the point now where I just hope, wish and dream of a different vehicle to highlight.

A few months ago I finally had a pair of Saturns make it to the top. A little before that there was a 90’s Altima that handily beat nearly 7000 other cars and trucks.  This week…

No such luck. Although there was one surprise.

This is how the Top 5 looked this time around out of 6863 trade-in contestants for the week.

1. 2003 Ford E-350 XLT:  426,776 miles

2. 2000 Honda Civic EX:  387,915 miles

3. 2001 Nissan Xterra SE: 377,966 miles

4. 2000 Ford Crown Vic:   353,951 miles (TAXI!)

5. 1999 Toyota Sienna LE: 341,630 miles


The Xterra was a welcome surprise from the usual Toyota, Honda, Ford, and Chevy domination.

A Manual. 4WD. The engine needed service but that won’t matter given that it will be fixed up and exported in short time. Almost every older, high mileage, Japanese SUV with four-wheel-drive and a handshaker winds up on the export side of the ledger.

Like many of the exported vehicles with gonzo mileage, I’m sure this one will also be given an ‘exempt’ recording of the mileage on the title and a nice healthy 200k mile rollback. They sell better that way.

So the big five here are more than likely highway oriented vehicles. Livery and transport companies usually favor domestics for their continuous travels, and we can argue the reasons why until Ford finally builds a suitable Panther replacement.

High mileage is fun to categorize, but let’s face it. There is bias. The fleet world is Ford and Chevy happy. So let’s look at the high mileage list from a more aged perspective.

What about vehicles that are at least 20 year old? What brands and models registered the highest mileage this time around?

Number one would be this 1992 Toyota Paseo with another handshaker and sun faded racing stripes on either side of the hood. Toyotas from the mid-80’s thru the mid-90’s have a notorious tendency to have their paint streaked and speckled at the points where the sun and debris hit em’ the most.

Still, even the worst Toyota paint jobs are far better than the wafer thin domestic paint-jobs of the time. But if I can offer one universal weakness to early-90’s Toyotas, it would be paint fade.

This 21 year old mileage champion was followed by a 1990 Lexus LS400 (290k), a 1990 Honda Accord (279k),  a 1993 Ford F150 (278k), and a 1992 Camry (277k).

So it seems like we’re stuck at the same point as before. Well, maybe not folks. I’ll throw in a few factoids given that today is tax day. .

After 64,049 vehicles tallied, the brands with the highest percentage of models with over 180k are…

1. Honda 

2. Toyota

3. Lexus

4. Acura

and a surprising 5th…

5. GMC

The first four have 20+% of their trade-ins with over 180k. GMC is at just over 17%.

Now for an even bigger shocker…

13% of Mitsubishis are now traded in with over 180k. I happen to finance an awful lot of them these days with a clear conscience. So this is no surprise from where I sit. 

Meanwhile, Mercedes tallies a mere 6.9%. BMW yields 5.9%. Audi barely hits the mileage pedal with only 4.5%, while VW does little better, even with dozens of TDI models, at 4.9%.

To further crown the European propensity for penurious plentitude when it comes to all things mileage related, the two absolute worst marques for mileage are Jaguar at 2.6% and Land Rover at 2.8%. Porsche is even worse at 0.52%. But since a Porsche daily driver is an exception rather than the rule, we gave it a bye.

On the homefront, we have one other surprise. Cadillac is barely beating the bad old Kias of the 90’s and early 2000’s. 3.8% for the former Northstar division vs. 3.7% for a company that brought us shitboxes such as the Sephia and the early Kia Rios.

Do you have free time today? Or happen to work for an OEM? Click here and have fun.





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21 Comments on “Monday Mileage Champion: On The Road Again...”

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    It does not surprise me one bit that Mitsubishis are getting traded in with 180,000+ miles. It is only “surprising” in light of TTAC’s strange habit of promulgating easily-disprovable urban legends about various non-Volkswagen brands. I’ve taken no less than 3 Mitsubishis deep into the 150,000 mile range with no issues whatsoever, and my ex-wife took another three into approximately that range.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    The sad thing is that many modern German and British cars I’ve seen didn’t actually suffer some kind of crippling mechanical failure. Rather, it was a computer or electronic device that was hard to source or cost-prohibitive to fix. I think that trend will only continue as we delve further into an age where the prevalent mindset is “let’s stuff as much proprietary, un-upgradeable technology as we can in this jalopy.”

  • avatar

    Coworker of mine had daily 150 mile commute. He would keep a nice car (truck) at home and search for Saturn SLs with 100k to commute in. He would pick them up for 1k and put another 100k on them. Rinse and repeat. Bodies always looked great on them too. He thought the SOHC was longer lasting than the DOHC motors.
    Not surprised about the first generation Xterra. Friend of mine bought one with 240k on the clock. I thought he was stupid but 3 years later still runs good and his is an auto (though no idea what # transmission its on).

    • 0 avatar
      bill mcgee

      Exactly what my wife and me did with our Saturn wagon, using it for both our daily 40 mile commutes, as she worked days and I worked nights, while we owned a couple of other cars . Later I changed jobs , used it for a delivery job , often hundreds of miles a day . It was the wagon , SOHC , with a manual . Put over 250k on it a few years , had over 300k when it was wrecked , with relatively few mechanical problems . Worst front seats of any car I ever owned , however , thinly padded , and quite the rattletrap .As far as the Mitsu , a GF and her sister , both credit-challenged , owned a couple of Galants- late 90s ones IIRC , that they were quite happy with and drove for years .

  • avatar

    I’m curious to know why most high mileage domestics have been trucks and vans, there have been a few Panthers yea but hardly any regular cars.

    I’d also like to know if there are any cars out there that’ve exceeded a million miles and are not Swedish.

    • 0 avatar

      Here are a few:

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks for the link, the cars that made that list didn’t surprise me much aside from the BMW.

        I give credit to the town car owner for using lifetime warranty parts to keep it going, wheres a good place to pick up parts like that?

      • 0 avatar

        He only killed ONE transmission in that 88 SPG? My rebuilt tranny only lasted 30,000 miles before it blew chunks of third gear around inside the casing. Sigh, miss that car – mine looked exactly like his.

  • avatar

    I imagine that Cash for Clunkers wiped out a lot of the SUVs that would have made this list. If I had a 200k Explorer or Grand Cherokee sitting around and they wanted to give me 4k for it, wouldn’t think twice.

  • avatar

    Steve that link looks very good… thank you for feeding the data junkie within me.

  • avatar

    Love this series, Steve. Any chance you could include what they end up selling for at auction?

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t believe that data is available, at least not through the source we’re currently using. The information basically comes down to:

      Year, Make, Model Trim (ex: 2003 Volvo XC90 T6)
      Description (ex: 4D Sport Utility, Automatic, Silver)
      Announcements (ex: Miles Exempt, No Runner, Title Absent)
      Options (ex: 4,A,L,R,Y)
      and mileage (ex: 126,778)

  • avatar
    Pete Kohalmi


    you live in Atlanta right? Do you think the high-mileage cars would be any different if you were in say, Maine or Minnesota? Here in New England we see a lot of old Chevy trucks–but not Fords–and Camrys. But also lots of old Volvos and even VWs. I think the amount of rust on a car has a lot to do whether or not someone is willing to keep them going or to ditch them.

  • avatar

    …..High mileage is fun to categorize, but let’s face it. There is bias. The fleet world is Ford and Chevy happy. So let’s look at the high mileage list from a more aged perspective….

    Or, we could say that these fleet vehicles were considered worthy of having a transmission replaced and hence the mileage shown. If they were generic domestic sedans they mighh have been junked instead…

    • 0 avatar

      What is a more aged perspective? How do you know that the cars that made it to more than 180,000 miles had their transmissions replaced? Why are imaginarily as durable domestic sedans not worth saving when their transmissions hypothetically fail while supposedly as problematic Hondas and Toyotas are ‘considered worthy’ of said replacements?

      • 0 avatar

        The Hondas and Toyotas cars have high enough resale value to make such a repair worthwhile IF needed. None of my posts talk about them not being reliable, other than maybe the V6 Hondas. Don’t put words in my mouth. Fact is from this data alone, we can’t tell what had an expensive repair what did not. All I am saying is that there are plenty of high mileage examples of all of them to indicate to me that they are ALL capable of such longevity, yet for some reason the number of domestic cars making to the mark is less than that for the trucks. I feel the primary reason is simply economic. The trucks, you know the ones made by the same engineers and beancounters that made those no-good domestic cars, hold their value much better than the cars so they likely get any repair that they MAY need. You really need to get over your 1980’s Chrysler experience, which somehow gave me 253K reliable miles….

        • 0 avatar

          How did the Japanese get their high resale values? How do they retain them when the Camry and Accord have been among the best selling cars in the US for twenty years? It isn’t scarcity.

          Trucks are more durable than cars for all sorts of reasons.
          1. The domestics can sell them profitably. It is easier to win an argument with a bean counter when you can justify the expense by pointing to the success of existing products.
          2. All trucks are built to do work. Not all of them are required to do work with much frequency. Being overbuilt for the task actually performed is going to lead to a longer service life.
          3. Until very recently, trucks were low tech machines. They don’t have transaxles, CV joints conducting all of their power, or independent rear suspensions. Consider the Crown Victoria.

          Honda doesn’t build anything that enjoys the advantages of a cowboy cadillac, but they still manage to top the list. That’s indicative of more people having experiences like you had with your K-car while driving Hondas than people having experiences with Hondas like my family had with our Dodge Lancer. The internet has introduced me to lots of people that experienced unexpected longevity from the most maligned cars in history, just as it has introduced me to people claiming to have had the opposite from the most dependable makes. It doesn’t change the overall picture revealed by articles like this, one backed up by my time working with cars, by every decent mechanic I’ve ever talked to, many specializing in other brands, and from being many people I know’s resource for buying and maintaining cars.

          • 0 avatar

            The second point about trucks being built to do work is key. Making trucks overbuilt for their common task of carrying worthless consumer shit home from the strip mall is a bonus. I think the primary benefit is you can do actual work with them. You can use a truck to earn money. Anything that can be used as a tool to make money is going to hold its value.

          • 0 avatar

            You’ve got it right Burgersandbeer. For many people trucks are tools to earn their living and thus have a certain “intrinsic” value. The fact that they are often less complicated and due to the volumes produced parts are generally cheaper makes it more likely to get repaired and returned to service.

        • 0 avatar

          If I recall corretly, golden2husky had a K-car built in the mid- or late 1980s. By that point, Chrysler had largely worked the bugs out the design of the basic K-car (Aries and Reliant). Those basic K-cars generally weren’t equipped with the turbocharged engines, which also made them more reliable.

          Chrysler’s big challenge was very uneven quality control. You could get one that went for 253,000 miles without much fuss, or one that was in the shop every month after the warranty ended.

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