We’ve explained how vehicles are lasting longer than ever. This means any vehicle you buy with 75,000 miles is likely just getting broken in and has 70 percent of its life ahead of it. Still, since you’re reading this, you might be concerned about long term reliability. Here’s what to look for when you’re shopping a ride with some miles.
You may be surprised that a vehicle as affordable as the Rio is also one of the most reliable. JD Power says the Rio is more reliable than the Honda Fit, plus there’s that massive 10-year/100,000-mile transferable warranty. Consumer Reports also likes the Rio, but calls its acceleration leisurely since the 1.6-liter four cylinder makes 130 horsepower. It was designed for economy over drag racing, and it wins there with up to 37 MPG highway. Kia stacks up some impressive safety scores as well, including an IIHS Top Safety Pick+. There’s lots of options here too, as you can get a Rio sedan with the security of a trunk, or a Rio hatchback with more rear interior space. Manual transmission was available until 2019, and you might want to price those models, as they’re probably cheaper since they need the right buyer.
Shopping compacts with high miles? Consumer Reports says the Mazda3 has earned a near perfect reliability score for the last decade. It also ranks on Autobytel’s list of vehicles with the lowest cost of ownership, mainly due to its fuel sipping efficiency, slow depreciation, and high reliability scores. The Mazda3 is also a reviewer favorite as it’s a blast to drive, a surprise in this class of affordable cars. The 2.5-liter four makes a strong 184 horsepower, meaning 0 to 60 takes only 7.3 seconds, right on the heels of the Jaguar XE. It’s efficient too, reaching 36 mpg highway. If you row your own gears, the excellent manual transmission is reminiscent of the legendary Honda S2000. Like the above Kia, the Mazda3 is available as a sedan or hatchback, and either one looks awesome with Mazda’s excellent modern design. The Bose surround-sound system sounds great, and matches the car’s reliability.
If your used car budget allows luxury, take a look at a Lexus hybrid. Hybrids are generally more reliable than equivalent gas-only rides, backed up by countless stories of NYC cabbies running their Toyota Prius and Ford Escape cabs over 500,000 miles. Hybrids luck out here, as the gas engine and electric motor trade off, so the engine is only worked half as much as a gas-only engine. Lexus quality means a GS is even higher quality than your average hybrid. It’s also more luxurious, with quality materials, excellent ergonomics, and huge attention to detail. From the smooth and quiet ride, to the classy bamboo trim and perfect leather, the GS450h is a great drive. It’s the hybrid that scoots too, with 338 horsepower. There’s even an F Sport option, if you’re looking for efficiency and athletic driving dynamics. MotorTrend calls the GS450h the most well-rounded hybrid you can buy.
Want to drive beyond 200,000 miles with no serious issues? You can play the odds with any SUV, or you can buy a Ford Expedition. Ranked #1 by an extensive iSeeCars.com survey on vehicles most likely to reach 200,000 miles. This is no surprise, as the Expedition is basically an Ford F-150 work truck wearing SUV clothes. That spacious design means enormous passenger room with seating for eight people, and 108 cu-ft cargo space in standard form and 130.8 cu-ft in the larger EL trim. It can also tow 9,200 lbs, an incredible amount for an SUV. This is especially impressive considering the V8 went away in 2014 in favor of Ford’s torquey 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 paired with a six-speed auto. All-new for 2018, the newest Expedition is a surprising drive, offering light steering and easy to handle road manners, and a good injection of efficiency from the 10-speed auto transmission. It should easily go a quarter million miles too.
Your lifestyle might have you needing a truck, but your bank account strongly advises you to buy high mileage. What to do? Go buy a “Taco.” The Toyota Tacoma earned CR’s highest reliability rating for 13 consecutive years, and is one of the torch bearers of Toyota’s legendary reliability. Sure, there’s also blind spot monitoring, a standard backup camera, Qi wireless charging, and up to mid-20s gas mileage, but you probably care more about its ability to do work. Depending on how you spec the engine, transmissions, and tow options, you could pull nearly 7,000 lbs. Engine choices are a 2.7-liter four, or 3.5-liter six, with entirely bulletproof reliability either way. There’s also the stellar resale value, friendly online community, and huge catalog of aftermarket parts that can turn your truck into an off-road racer or the ultimate workhorse.