Spending a bundle doesn’t always ensure that you will have the most reliable car. Automotive endurance is a more complicated formula of engineering, use and care. Some vehicles just seem to have that something extra, however. Here are 10 cars that simply will not die, and many of them can be had at a reasonable price.
Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera (GM A-Bodies, 1984-1996)
During a time with sales were down, General Motors renewed its commitment to quality. The Cutlass Ciera benefited from GM’s exhaustive elimination of all the bugs from its predecessor, the X-Body.
Geo Prizm (1989-2002)
Geo Prizms during this period were built as part of a GM-Toyota joint venture called NUMMI. The move helped both automakers, as Toyota was able to get around restrictions placed on Japanese imports, while GM got a look at Toyota’s manufacturing techniques, the kind that have helped Corollas seemingly last forever. Value is spectacular with the Prizm as well, as well-tended vehicles in the line get 35-40 mpg.
Subaru wagons (1990-Present)
Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru’s parent company) builds truck-like fortitude into Subaru wagons. With standard all-wheel drive, they can handle heavy weather, which has made them popular as family cars.
Volvo wagons (Real-wheel drives, until 1996)
A kind of spiritual predecessor to Subaru’s line of station wagons, Volvo paid little attention to fashion, focusing its efforts on superior quality and safety. Rust resistance is generally attributed to the Volvo’s Scandinavian origins.
Ford Crown Victoria/Mercury Marquis (1992-2011, with gaps)
There’s a reason police departments and taxi companies use these vehicles in their fleets. The core components – a V8 engine, solid rear axle, body-on-frame construction – make for a highly reliable car, even if the standard consumer models don’t have oil coolers and souped-up suspensions.
Fiat 500 (Europe, 1957-1975)
While the Jennifer Lopez ad campaign has failed to boost new Fiat 500 sales in the U.S., the ultra-compact has a long history of success in Europe. Known in Italy as the “Cinquecento,” the Italian automaker made 3.4 million two-cylinder Fiat 500s during the production run. Many of them continue to dot Italy’s streets. What old Fiat 500s lack in power – it had a top speed of about 50 mph – they more than make up for in staying power.
Mercedes 300D/300TD (1975-1985)
These diesel marvels offered iron-clad reliability, thanks to strong inline-five engines born out of Mercedes Europe’s mastery creating with diesel trucks. Today, the 300D and 300TD are popular biodiesel conversion cars.
Honda Accord (1976-Present)
The anonymous Honda Accord sells. This is because of the kind of durability that comes from an automaker that values engines and engineering above everything else.
BMW 3-Series (1982-1990)
These BMW models may scream “yuppie” – the BMW 3-Series was the Lexus before there was Lexus – but there’s nothing pretentious about the 3-Series’ simply perfect engineering and wide array of available parts. Historically, it has kept them going like new.
Jeep Cherokee (1987-2001)
The first small crossover SUV in the U.S., the Jeep Cherokee sported a tough, straight-six engine. It also eschewed traditional body-on-frame construction. Europeans enjoyed a turbodiesel variant.
Consumer Reports on reliable cars
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