My dear Prius, after 163,000 miles, you and I still aren’t done

I didn't know I'd end up being fashionable by hanging on to the car so long.

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Columnists

August 30, 2022 - 2:50 PM

The second-generation Prius was released in 2003, featuring a 5-door hatchback body instead of its predecessor’s semi notchback 4-door sedan styling. (TOYOTA)

When an estimated 92 million Americans expected hit the nation’s roads over this Labor Day weekend, more of them will be driving used cars than ever before. I’ll be among them — behind the wheel of my Toyota Prius, freshly turned 14 years old in September. That’s the longest I have ever owned a car. I used to lease a fancy crossover vehicle, with a new car every 36 months; now, my little red hybrid’s odometer has passed the 163,000-mile mark.

I didn’t know I’d end up being fashionable by hanging on to the car so long: The average age of vehicles owned by Americans in 2022 is a record 12.2 years, according to an S&P Global Mobility report. That includes sedans, trucks and SUVs; for sedans, it’s 13.1 years. The number has risen for five consecutive years. Twenty years ago, the average age of cars on U.S. roads was about 9.5 years.

The trend looks certain to continue: New cars are alarmingly expensive. The average price of gas, which we’re supposed to be happy is just $3.85 per gallon on average nationwide, is likely heading back to $5 per gallon by the end of the year, according to Goldman Sachs.

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