Can a Car Go Too Far? Our Highest-Mileage Cruisers

1989 Lincoln Town Car

Summer’s just around the bend, which means many of us have long weekend drives in our near future. Leaving the day-to-day for a beautiful summer weekend away can definitely heal many wounds, but some of us will need to cover a lot of miles to really get away from it all. We polled our used-car listings to find those vehicles with the highest mileage per year, but weren’t surprised to find the top end of our list packed with cargo vans and large pickup trucks.

You don’t want to leave work on a Friday for a long drive to your summer getaway with your honey in a cargo van, do you? No, so we’re going to show you the sedans and wagons that have covered the largest average number of miles per year, in order to to find some comfortable highway cruisers. These vehicles aren’t generally fast and luxurious, but any one should fit the bill if you need a vehicle to get yourself and your loved one(s) a long way from your home base for some relaxation.

Please make sure you prepare for any long drive by getting plenty of sleep beforehand and turning off your cell phone or giving it to a passenger to avoid distraction. We’re not sure where you’ll cover lots of miles for relaxing weekends away this summer, but here’s a list of great road trips. Wherever you go, we hope you return safe and refreshed, and we hope you enjoy the drive.

2015 Nissan Altima

10. Given the reputation for reliability that Japanese cars have built in the U.S., we’re not surprised to find that many folks who need to cover a lot of miles every year choose to do so in midsize Japanese sedans. But while the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord have longer histories, it’s the Nissan Altima that earned a spot on this list with an average per-year mileage of 12,065. The Accord has generally offered a nicer interior and stronger tech, and the Camry takes the crown for reliability and resale value, but the Altima probably tends to cover more miles because it offers a more enjoyable drive and handling, not to mention a generally lower price. The Altima has also used a continuously variable transmission (CVT) instead of an automatic since 2007, and while enthusiasts generally prefer manuals, most drivers seem to find that a CVT offers more responsiveness, and it definitely offers better mileage.

2008 Pontiac Grand Prix

9. The Pontiac Grand Prix production run went uninterrupted from 1962 until 2008, when Pontiac began to phase it out in favor of the G8. Fittingly, the end of the heritage-rich Grand Prix coincided with the end of Pontiac; General Motors shuttered the company the following year. But the waning days of the Grand Prix saw it soldier on as a mileage workhorse. From 2005 to 2008, Grand Prix models averaged 12,126 miles per year. Available with either a 200-hp 3.8-liter V6 or a 300-hp 5.3-liter V8, the last-generation Pontiac directed all its power through the front wheels. It’s not exactly the most sophisticated setup on the road, and most drivers found its interior unimpressive, but the Grand Prix’s reliability is hard to ignore. With fewer and fewer V8s on the road, a 2008 Grand Prix is a safe bet for anyone looking to reclaim a little American muscle.

2016 Subaru Outback

8. The Subaru Outback is the first of three wagon-ish vehicles on our list and covers an average of 12,204 miles per year. Anyone whose weekend getaways involve multiple loved ones, camping, and/or a large canine will probably want something bigger than a sedan or coupe, and the Outback can meet that need. Subaru’s trademark all-wheel drive (AWD) won’t be necessary in summer unless reaching your getaway requires leaving paved roads, but should be helpful anywhere with snow in winter. Outbacks from 2009 through 2012 are particularly strong, averaging over 13,000 miles per year, with the 2010 taking the crown at 13,675. Those Outbacks all came standard with a 2.5-liter boxer 4-cylinder that produces 170 hp and tops out at less than 30 mpg highway. The bigger Outback that arrived for 2015 and impressed our reviewer gets 175 hp and 33 mpg highway out of its 2.5-liter boxer four, so should be an even better cruiser, but it’ll cost a bunch more, too.

2012 Mitsubishi Galant

7. The Mitsubishi Galant has a long history as a well-traveled car. Originally introduced in 1969 as Mitsubishi’s answer to the Toyota Corona, Nissan Bluebird (sold as the Nissan Stanza in the U.S.), and Mazda 626, the Galant had helped Mitsubishi establish itself as a global presence. First sold in the U.S. in 1971 as the Dodge Colt, the Galant went on to become the cornerstone of Mitsubishi’s U.S. presence until 2012, after which it was discontinued. The Galant had gone virtually unchanged in recent memory, not having a dramatic redesign since the 2004 model year. But the reliability of this Japanese midsize sedan allowed drivers to pack on the miles during its twilight years. Your typical used Galant has put on an average of 12,238 miles per year, making it the most-traveled Mitsubishi vehicle by far.

2011 Chevrolet HHR

6. Say what you’d like about its now-passé, PT Cruiser-wannabe styling, but the Chevrolet HHR is a pretty cool car. Okay, now that you’ve finished laughing, allow us to explain. Admittedly, by 2011, the world was no longer amused by cars like the HHR and PT Cruiser (the dominant competitor in the briefly white-hot retro-wagon segment). And as such, Chevrolet shrunk the HHR trim lineup down to bare essentials, and in doing so let go its secret weapon: the HHR SS. It’s much, much more likely the HHR earned its place on our Hardest Working Cars list with 12,258 yearly miles by appealing to micro-contractors with a commercial-style panel-van version, but we’re here to defend the HHR rather than bury it. Last seen in 2010, the HHR SS’s 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder delivered 260 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Paired with a 5-speed manual transmission and offering up to 63.1 cubic feet of cargo space, it’s not hard for us to imagine putting serious mileage on the Heritage High Roof.

2015 Chevrolet Impala

5. Reviewing the 2015 version, our very own Chris Wardlaw says the Chevrolet Impala “excels at covering mile after mile on the highway… wafting down the road, soaking up imperfections and gliding atop the pavement.” It should come as no surprise then to learn that over the past 10 years, Impalas have logged the fifth-most average yearly mileage of any car on CarGurus, at 12,280 miles. A big, torquey V8 engine hasn’t been available in the Impala since the 2009 SS trim’s 303-hp, 323 lb-ft 5.3-liter, but the more recent 2LT and 2LTZ trims more than make do with a 3.6-liter V6’s 305 hp and 264 lb-ft. Full-size sedans may exist in a seemingly pointless space in today’s auto market, but one truth remains undeniable: these boats are still up to eat some serious mileage.

2015 Ford Taurus

4. The Ford Taurus was one of Ford’s most popular models, from its inception until Ford replaced its slot in the lineup with the Five Hundred. The Taurus had the last laugh, however, when Ford renamed the Five Hundred model the Ford Taurus. Although sales for the Taurus have not quite recovered from its hiatus (the pre-2005 Taurus were some of Ford’s best-selling models), it’s still an absolute workhorse of a sedan. Accumulating an average of 12,401 miles per year, the post-redesign Ford Taurus tacks on more miles than any other full-size sedan available on CarGurus. The balance the Taurus strikes with sporty exterior, peppy performance, good fuel economy, and top safety features encourages its drivers to put on a ton of miles.

2013 Dodge Avenger

3. This one is a bit perplexing. The Dodge Avenger could never be considered a rousing success–it totaled 357,383 U.S. sales between the 2011 redesign and the model’s discontinuation in 2014. To put that number in perspective, the midsize-segment-leading Toyota Camry totaled 428,606 U.S. sales in 2014 alone. Still, it appears Avenger owners love driving their cars, as the angry little sedan racked up an average of 12,585 yearly miles between 2005 and 2015. Maybe it’s because of a 29-mpg highway rating, or a spritely 6-seconds-to-60 time, courtesy of the optional 3.6-liter V6. Of course, it could also be a testament to the Avenger’s reliability (broken cars can’t rack up mileage, after all). Regardless, the Dodge Avenger proudly wears the bronze medal on our list of hardest-working cars.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen

2. The highest-mileage wagon available in the U.S., based on our used-car listings, is the Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen. Introduced at the 2007 New York International Auto Show, the 2009-14 Jetta Sportwagen was based on the fifth-generation Golf, and in fact the model took on the name it used in most of the rest of the world in 2015, becoming the Golf Sportwagen. The used versions listed on our site have an average of 12,800 miles per year, and each year’s version has gotten strong user reviews, particularly the 2009 and ’10. Unfortunately, some of those wagons feature one of the problematic Dieselgate engines, but we respect Volkswagen’s decision to call them wagons instead of crossovers. None of these wagons gets more than 200 hp, and many get significantly less, so you won’t get from 0 to 60 terribly quickly, but you will enjoy German handling and plenty of cargo space.

2008 Lincoln Town Car

1. A legend in the livery services industry, the Lincoln Town Car has been one of the most popular choices for driving other people around throughout its 30-year life. At its peak, the Lincoln Town Car filled 75% of all U.S. limousine and livery fleets and shuttled everyone from business executives to high-school prom attendees. So, at 14,299 miles per year, it’s no wonder the Town Car has by far the highest average of any car for sale on CarGurus. With both 117.7-inch standard-wheelbase and 123.7-inch extended-wheelbase trims available, as well as the infamous stretch limo variants, the Town Car did everything it could to cater to comfort of the backseat passengers. It’s a shame Lincoln discontinued the Town Car before today’s era of freelance personal livery services like Uber and Lyft–the Town Car would have never been a more appropriate buy for someone looking to make some extra cash.

What’s the hardest-working vehicle you’ve ever owned? Would you buy it again?

–John Harrington, Matt Smith, and Steve Halloran

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Used Nissan Altima
Used Pontiac Grand Prix
Used Subaru Outback
Used Mitsubishi Galant
Used Chevrolet HHR
Used Chevrolet Impala
Used Ford Taurus
Used Dodge Avenger
Used Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen
Used Lincoln Town Car

1 Comment

  1. We have owned Lincoln Town Cars for years. We have three right now, with one having over 300,000 miles on it and the other two having over 180,000 miles. We are actually looking to buy a newer one for me. We are truly disappointed that Lincoln has discontinued this body style. Our son, who drives one of the 3 we own, can not fit comfortably in the newer body styles. We can’t afford a Navegator so I am not sure what we are going to do.

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