Want to drive to the moon? There's a car for you
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Every few months, a customer brings a spotless 2010 Rav4 to the service department at Don Jacobs Toyota for routine maintenance.
"It has no dents on the doors, no rock dings, no scratches," says service adviser Willy Hutchinson. "It looks like it just rolled off the lot."
Hutchinson was in for a shock, though, when he found out the compact SUV's odometer had just spun past 500,000 miles.
In other words, the car had traveled half a million miles.
That's the equivalent of circling the globe 40 times. Of driving to the moon and back – and being halfway through the round trip for a second time.
Hutchinson says the owner isn't interested in trading it in. Not yet, at least.
"He's owned Rav4s since the 1990s," Hutchinson says. "He does trade them in after a while, but not because they need to be. He just wants to keep up with the latest technology."
The Rav4 appears on almost every list with a headline like "Cars That Will Last 250,000 Miles." In fact, almost every model Toyota makes is on those lists. But the number of cars from all manufacturers expected to keep going for 200,000 miles has been growing steadily over the past decade.
The U.S. Department of Transportation says the average car on the road now is 11 and a half years old and has logged 138,000 miles. Some of those vehicles are just getting started. Case in point: Griffin Chevrolet of Milwaukee recently advertised a 2002 Chevrolet Venture minivan with 267,000 miles and a squeaky clean maintenance report that Carfax valued at $1,600.
One list, compiled by the ArticlesVally.com travel and lifestyle website, comprises 50 vehicles from 26 manufacturers that have either proven their mettle or can be expected to run for more than 200,000 miles.
Braeger Chevrolet of Milwaukee sales rep Willy Burazin says that, while more than half of all deals now are leases on vehicles that customers intend to return in three years, there are still plenty of people who prefer to buy new and hold onto cars for the long haul.
"Not long ago, to keep a car running beyond the 200,000-mile mark would have seemed about as likely as driving it to the moon," Consumer Reports says. "But big improvements in powertrain technology, rust prevention, lubricants and more have led to game-changing improvements in reliability and durability."
These days, Consumer Reports editors say, almost any car can make it well into six-figure territory – with proper care.
To illustrate how important that last bit is, Hutchinson said the 500,000-mile Rav4's owner often gets routine maintenance, such as oil changes and radiator and transmission fluid checks, sooner than what the owner's manual recommends.
Paying for more than the suggested number of oil changes may sound expensive, but Consumer Reports notes that keeping up with routine maintenance is cheaper than letting neglect force you to buy a new vehicle sooner than you'd like.
Many leased vehicles come back to dealerships after logging less than 50,000 miles, which means they can reasonably be expected to keep going for another 150,000.
Two Chevy models that make a lot of top 10 lists, the Tahoe and Suburban SUVs, are in high-demand as used vehicles if they have less than 200,000 miles on them, but many owners keep them for much longer, Burazin says. "You're good as long as you don't go past the point where you're spending more for upkeep than you would for payments on a new one."
The Toyota Sequoia SUV tops a list based on a study by the iSeeCars.com. According to the search engine, 7.4 percent of all Sequoias sold in the U.S. have lasted past 200,000 miles, which is nine times higher than the average for all vehicles.
Rounding out iSeeCars' top 10 are the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, Ford Expedition, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, Toyota 4Runner and Highlander Hybrid, Honda Ridgeline SUVs, and Toyota Tacoma and Honda Ridgeline midsize pickups. The Toyota Tundra, Chevrolet Silverado and Ford F-150 full-size pickups lead the next 10.
Fans of sedans and minivans will be happy to know that 10 can be found on the iSeeCars' list of "Vehicles Most Likely to Last 200,000 Miles": Toyota Avalon, Camry, Camry Hybrid and Prius; Honda Accord and Civic; Chevrolet Impala; Ford Taurus; Honda Odyssey; and Toyota Sienna.
Consumer Reports' mileage champs, based on surveys, include many of those, plus the Toyota Highlander crossover, Tundra full-size pickup and Corolla compact sedan, along with the Honda CR-V, a crossover that's a perennial favorite among buyers in Southeastern Wisconsin.
ArticlesVally.com also cites models from Acura, Audi, BMW, GMC, Hyundai, Jeep, Kia, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, MINI, Nissan, Porsche, Subaru and Volkswagen.
If you're interested in used vehicles, some that are no longer in production are also listed, including the Ford Crown Victoria, Scion FRS and xB, and Saab 9000.
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