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Report: Buick, Volvo, Mitsubishi owners keep vehicles longest

Also, Experian Automotive finds Ford F-150 is equally popular among boomers and Gen X buyers.

By Douglas Newcomb Nov 12, 2013 8:14AM

Last week we reported that the number of cars and light trucks on U.S. roads reached 247.9 million in the second quarter of 2013 -- the highest point since the recession slowed auto sales starting in 2008.

The reason for this is not only booming new vehicle sales, but also car owners keeping older vehicles for longer periods of time. Experian Automotive noted that the average age of vehicles on the road was 10.9 years in the second quarter of 2013 -- almost a full year older than in the second quarter of 2009.

At the SEMA show last week in Las Vegas, Experian expounded on the study and revealed what vehicle brands those people are keeping. The top five, in order, are Buick, Volvo, Mitsubishi and the twin brands of Chrysler and Dodge.

The study measured the number of months car owners kept their cars since buying them new and until they sold them in the second quarter of this year. Buick was the clear leader at 98 months, while Volvo came in at 92 months and Mitsubishi at 91. The average length of ownership for Chrysler vehicles was 87 months and for Dodge it was 85. GMC had the lowest length of ownership at 71 months, which scored just below Lexus and Jaguar, both at 72.

Other interesting tidbits about car buying habits: While import brands have increased their market share compared to domestics since the recession, by 2014 the three U.S. domestic brands will have closed the gap and moved ahead. And of the income group most likely to buy a hybrid, the top of the spectrum -- those earning $150,000 or more a year -- made up the largest percentage. This was followed by those earning $50,000 to $74,999 a year.

Experian also found that among the top five models purchased in the first quarter of 2013, the Ford F-150 pickup was No. 1 with both boomers and Gen X buyers, and it was second (after the Honda Civic) among millennials.

Graph by Experian Automotive[Source: Experian Automotive]

Nov 12, 2013 9:19AM
OK, I'm going to get a lot of thumbs down for this but who cares?  Most Buicks are owned by retiree's.  It's typically the last car they own.  Being as they are on fixed income it stands to reason they will hold on to their cars longer.  Mitsubishi, Chrysler, and Dodges all depreciate so fast the owners have to hold on to them longer just to pay them down.  By that time they are worthless making the owner keep them due to lack of trade-in value.  Volvo owners hold on to their cars because they are convinced there is nothing else available that offers more safety.  Including new Volvo's. There, I said it.
Nov 12, 2013 9:51AM
2001 Chevy Silverado - 261,000+ miles ..still in great shape and going strong
2002 Chevy Cavalier - 147,000+ miles ... still in great shape and going strong

It's not the brand that makes a car last, it's the owner
Nov 12, 2013 9:40AM
Cars have never been an investment and it seems that the smartest folks are the ones that hang on to their cars for some time after they are paid off. A car is the most expensive form of disposable income out there no matter what you drive. Buy a lease return, pay it off in 30 months and drive it till the wheels fall off.
Nov 12, 2013 9:29AM
I have been driving my 1999 Acura since the day I bought it! 253 thousand miles later and still going strong. Honestly, I would touch a car newer than 2000 as each year more computer garbage rolls out, which doesn't imply a better car, simply more points of failure. 
Nov 12, 2013 9:51AM
OK.  I'm retired and own a 16 year old Park Avenue Ultra that will STILL blow most of the stuff off the road!  And properly cared for, will run damn near forever!
Nov 12, 2013 9:56AM

Just curious:  why is it that seniors buy Buicks?  I'm 68 and would rather have a GMC truck or SUV.  Do these people wake up on their 65th birthday and decide they need a Buick, and start listening to Frank Sinatra?  I don't get it.

Nov 12, 2013 9:49AM
I have always keep my cars forever.  Right now I own a 2000 Volkswagen Passat, bought new, with 233,000+ miles on it.  It still runs like a champ, no major repairs, and no end of its usefulness in sight.  And (the big plus) no car payments since 2005:  that's 13 years with NO car payments.
Nov 12, 2013 9:35AM
Have been driving my 2003 Tahoe for 10 years....167,000 miles and runs great!
Nov 12, 2013 8:46AM
Interesting. Wish there was more information on luxury brands like Lincoln, Cadillac, Audi etc. or does this mean that they were below everyone else on the chart? I would think Cadillac would have placed up there with Buick since both brands are favorites of senior citizens and they keep their cars much longer than most.

Nov 12, 2013 9:38AM
Curious how the numbers would differ if they combined models that are essentially rebranded clones of one another i.e. Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra
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