Most Reliable Cars in History
1. Most Reliable Cars in History
Pinpointing exactly how many kilometers, on average, any given model has racked up is virtually impossible, but weve identified 15 cars with exceptionalsometimes surprisingendurance and value.
Model years:Dawn of Man1996 ,Volvos secret? It basically built one car for decades under a variety of model names. In its staid Swedish way, the carmaker eschewed fashion and focused instead on quality (and safety). About the only thing that will kill off a Volvo is rust, says Mark Bredesen, the owner of Herndon, Va., importrepairshop Autoscandia, whos been working on Volvos since 1978and the later models largely conquered that problem with galvanized steel. After a first round as the family truckster, these cars often devolve to being the kids college vehiclesand sleeping quarters at jamband shows. Volvo has earned much press for longevity thanks to Irv Gordon, of Patchogue, N.Y., whose 1966 P1800 (a sporty model seen on the introductory page of this slide show) has more than three million miles, putting it in the Guinness Book of World Records as the car with the most mileage.
3. Buick LeSabre
Model years: 19892005 ,Despite the best efforts of GM marketing departments to persuade car buyers otherwise, most people realized by the 1990s and 2000s that Buicks, Chevrolets, Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles were all very similar under the skin. And yet, its the Buicks that got the love in this era, as reflected in the many, many awards the brand won from qualityrankers J.D. Power and Associates. The LeSabre won most troublefree domestic in 1990, and the brand as a whole was the top among domestics for initial quality. Fifteen years later, the LeSabre won most dependable fullsize car. There were more honors in between those years, and Buick continues to do well in these surveys. Another reason these cars endure? Experts point to who was buying them: seniors. Its a great littleoldman car, says Feral Cars Merlis. Theyre not pushing them hard, and theyre maintaining them well. This makes the LeSabre a prime car to pick up used, says Ivan Drury, an automotive analyst for Edmunds. If you need something cheap for [getting from] point A to point B, you cant go wrong with these. Other Buicks (Centurys, Regals and Park Avenues) also do quite well. As with many GM cars from that era that have V6 engines, watch out for leaky or degraded intake manifold gaskets, a potentially pricey fix.
4. Jaguar XJ6
Model years: 19951997 ,This pick caused a lot of browfurrowing among experts we spoke to. If you want to make friends, you dont want to recommend that, cautioned Bob Merlis of Feral Cars. Heres our thinking: During the 1970s, Jaguar reliability was horrid. A common solution to the cars troubles was to rip out the Jaguar motor and replace it with a good old Chevrolet V8. But in the 1980s, under the leadership of an industrial turnaround specialist, Sir John Egan, the marque started to improve. Then Ford bought the company, infusing money and development knowhow. By the late 1990s, the company was scoring well on J.D. Power vehicle dependability and initial quality rankings. So thats why the last iteration of the classic Jaguar inline6 sedan is still motoring on, often in the hands of a second owner whos always hankered for a Jag but couldnt afford one new. With these cars almost 20 years old now, its death by a thousand cuts rather than catastrophic failure, says Mark Stephenson, a site administrator for JagLovers.com. But mechanically, the 199597 Jaguar XJ6s are the most reliable cars Jaguar has ever produced. When it comes to the basic function of getting you down the road, they refuse to die. For aspiring owners, the usual cautions still apply: Find a Jaguar specialist, and check out JagLovers buyers resource to be a better problem spotter.
5. Ford Crown Victoria or Mercury Marquis
Model years: 19922011,These road tanks have been doing a great job taking Granny and Grandpa to church every Sunday for decades. Even though the civilian versions lack the endurancebuilding parts of police cruisers and taxis, such as oil coolers and stronger suspensions, the core components of the American sedan are all there: V8 engine, solid rear axle, bodyonframe construction. Many police officers got downright mistyeyed when they went out of production. The Chevy Caprice held this niche as well until the mid1990s, when GM decided to turn its production facility over to big SUVs. A footnote: The Crown Victoria was only available for fleet sales beginning in 2008. The Marquis went to the guillotine along with the entire Mercury brand with the 2011 model year. But the vehicles are plentiful in the usedcar marketplace, and as one fan put it on Jalopnik, replacement parts number in the billions and are bought for beans. If youre deadset on buying a former police car, there are even outfits that recondition them for sale to civilians.
6. Chevrolet Camaro or Pontiac Firebird
Model years: 19822002,These cars refusal to die is not necessarily a function of inherent reliability. Its the sheer bullheadness of their owners, aging children of the ?60s and ?70s, who still want to drive a twodoor American sport coupe with a V8 and rearwheeldrive and no way is it going be a Mustang (because that would be a Ford.) They cant afford a new Camaro (or other new, hot sportcoupe offerings, such as the Dodge Charger R/T). And they cant afford pony cars from the actual musclecar era of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which are now only for wellheeled collectors. So that leaves the FBody cars, in conditions ranging from impeccably polished to primer gray. Theyre an aspirational ride of sorts, says Bob Merlis, creator of the blog Feral Cars, which tracks old and interesting (but not showquality) vehicles. People always preserve them. Theyre the ?Im going to get around to [fixing] it kind of car. They dont get crushed. Another factor in their favor: Used parts are abundant, given how many of these were put into a ditch early in their lives due to youthful indiscretions.
7. Ford Escort
Model years: 19912002,Transportation, nothing more. Reasonable reliability. Way cheaper on the used market than a Toyota of the same era. Virtually nobody gets excited about a Ford Escort, but for people who need a way to get to work for not a lot of dough, this is a prime mover. Thats why it made a crowdsourced list of the 10 Best Cars for Poor People on the car blog Jalopnik, which commented, Everyone seemed to agree that Ford has turned out some very straightforward atob automobiles that depreciation has made into solid bargain buys. The years were discussing mark Fords second bid at selling a model named Escort in the U.S. Its not to be mistaken for the first, sold from 1981 to 1990, which was forgettable. The 1991 Escort represented one of Fords more successful collaborations with Mazda, and it owes much of its design to the Mazda Protg. The shared DNA can also be found in the Mercury Tracer and Ford ZX2.
8. Toyota Camry
Model years: 1992forward ,The 1992 model year marked the point where the Camry really hit its stride and went on to become a sales and endurance leader. Two reasons: The styling, which evoked Toyotas thennew Lexus luxury line, and roominess. Camrys that Toyota had imported to the states up until then had hewed to a Japanese market restriction of being no more than 67 inches wide. For 1992, Toyota decided to build a separate model just for the North American and Australian markets that was 70 inches wide. In so doing, it created a competitor to the 71inchwide Ford Taurus, which it would go on to dethrone as the most popular sedan in the U.S. in 1997. Its held that honor for all but one year since. Many, if not most, of those millions sold are still around. You see them going 200,000, 300,000 miles all the time, says Tom Torbjornsen, author of How to Make Your Car Last Forever. Theyre just very well made. Note that some of the recent black eyes the Camry (and Toyota generally) received over sticking gas pedal issues have nothing to do with the cars longterm durability. A group of Lexus models share the Camrys roots and durability (but with plusher accomodations): the Lexus ES 300/330/350 and RX 300/330/350.
9. MercedesBenz 240D or 300D
Model years: 1975 and beyond,If you wanted a Mercedes in the early 1980s that got reasonable mileagethat is, above 20 mpgyou got a diesel. That the company sold as many as it did was largely a fluke of federal regulations; the thrifty diesels allowed Mercedes to meet fleet fuel economy standards. They also were built to run forever, with not a single bit of electronics needed under the hood. [These cars] are like a rocking chair made out of hickory, says Mitch Carr, whos been working on these models in his Kensington, Md., shop since 1986. Once you get it started, you could throw out the battery and it would keep running. Theres nothing to go wrong. Generally garaged and carefully serviced by their original owners, many of these are now with their second or third owner. Theyre popular among tinkerers, especially those who like to convert them to run on recycled vegetable oil. The Mercs are still used as cabs in many countries, such as in Morocco, pictured. Mercedes was one of the few manufacturers that continued selling diesels after this golden era of the diesel, though sales were minimal when gas was cheap. The core reliability of a diesel engine remains the same in these later models, but the later Benzes suffered the same software teething problems of their gasolinepowered counterparts in the late 1990s and 2000s.
10. Jeep Cherokee
Model years: 19872001,Were going to make an exception to our notrucks rule for the Jeep Cherokee. For one thing, its not really a truck. As the first small crossover SUV in the U.S., it did not have traditional bodyonframe construction. Despite that, and despite being the last gasp of the dying American Motors Corporation, it did have Jeep toughness in its DNA and a wellproven, durable straight6 engine. Many Cherokees are still roaming Americas secondary roadsand Europe as well, in a turbodiesel variant. That comes with a caveat, notes Edmunds Drury. It will drive, he says, but is everything working? Probably not. A window might not go down, or a speaker might be out. For owners willing to put up with those sorts of niggling problems (or fix them themselves), the Jeep Cherokee can be an interesting combination of a vehicle that will go just about anywhereand keep doing so for a long time.
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