by: David Kiley | AOL Autos

    Remember when automakers offered customers all kinds of incentives to flip their cars and trucks every three years? Cheap lease deals and seven year loans were catnip to many a driver who wanted to be seen in fresh wheels. So pervasive was incessant car flipping that many car owners became “upside down” on their car loans as unscrupulous dealers and ignorant buyers allowed customers whose trade-ins were worth less than what was owed to roll forward the shortfall into a new loan on a new car. Thus, consumers were financing 120% and more of a new car’s value at closing.

    Not any more. Reckless financing deals took down Mitsubishi in the U.S., and ultimately contributed to the falls of GM and Chrysler. The companies have closed and consolidated so many factories that they aren’t over-producing cars and trucks like they used to.

    Consumer research and trend analysts are telling carmakers to get ready for slow growth from this year’s projected 11.5 to 12 million new vehicle sales because the hammering of home values and 401k accounts is going to keep people in their vehicles for a good seven or eight years and maybe more.

    The good news, even for people who aren’t wild about the prospect of holding on to the same wheels for a decade, is that automakers are making longer term ownership more possible through better engineering and overall quality. J.D. Power’s Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), which ranks cars based on surveying car owners about three years of ownership, showed this year that Detroit automakers continue to narrow the long term quality gap between them and the leading Asian makes. Twenty-five of 36 vehicle brands have improved in long-term dependability in 2010, compared with their performance in 2009. And for the first time in the history of the study, a Detroit model, the 2006 Buick LaCrosse, had the lowest incidence of problems. Seven of the top ten models in this year’s ranking were from General Motors and Ford.

    To come up with this list, we looked at three years of J.D. Power’s VDS Studies to see which vehicles showed up in the top three positions in their segments over 2008, 2009 and 2010, which would reflect vehicles sold in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Those were the LaCrosse, Toyota Prius, Honda Ridgeline and CR-V and BMW Z4. But we don’t want to be chained to Power’s rankings. We also added to our list--for reasons of our own scrutiny of the products, their history and various rankings -- the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, Hyundai Elantra Touring and BMW 3 Series.

    There are other vehicles that could have been added to the list if we expanded it. The Lexus ES350 sedan, Subaru Outback and Toyota Corolla each have reputations and data to make them good choices for a decade, as well. But to keep the list to ten models, we were a bit ruthless, and wanted to add some models like the Jetta TDI and Hyundai, which we feel are good bets with some added benefit of being fun to drive and not such obvious choices.

    Quick Shopping Tools:

    Research New Cars

    Cars for Sale in Your Area

    Get Repair Estimates

    1 - 20 of 108 Comments
    VBened Dec 21, 2010 11:41 AM
    I'll never buy a GM car again. I'm not going to support a company that was bled dry by Union leeches..taken over Communist-style from its rightful owners (stockholders) without compensation and then let the taxpayer pay off the Union pensions. To buy a GM car is UNAMERICAN! On top of that, J.D. Powers hasn't exactly been the best guide to go by with their initial quality ratings. If memory serves, there were tons of ads by GM that always touted J.D.'s ratings of their cars, although almost everyone (not in a cave) knew those cars were crap.
    Report This
    lostlove1999 Jul 19, 2010 9:52 AM
    What about the toyota corolla, honda civic or subaru impreza? those cars last and last. have good fuel economy too. the article contains many gas guzzlers like buick, lincoln, etc etc
    Report This
    halligally999 Jul 19, 2010 3:33 AM
    @ the12meetinct: you are talkin about supporting low level managers pocket money and chicks??? we did that a "few weeks" ago already by our tax money, by the way we lost our homes. do you remember. nice move jackass. also toyota produces in the here by the way, right? so why buy crappy US cars?
    Report This
    johnnyjv9 Jul 17, 2010 10:00 PM
    I turn wrenches on new GMs for a living. Aint of em lasting then years. Toyota Prius is gonna fall victim to the beta max effect, at least the hybrid ones. Hyundai is in a good position to be like Honda or Toyota was in the nineties.
    Report This
    comlax22 Jul 02, 2010 4:45 PM
    If you're suggesting I spend the next 10 years in a BUICK LACROSSE, no thanks...I'd rather take the bus or walk.
    Report This
    rpvitiello Jun 26, 2010 12:50 PM
    mrpushrod1 when is the last time you looked at what taxi's are running around NYC? A good chunck of the new ones are toyotas now, you see plenty of siennas, Camry and even prius yellow cabs running around. You also see some civic hybrids, altima hybrids and jetta TDI's running around. You also see the occasional GM vehicle, but the most common taxi vehicles have to be Ford and Toyota.
    Report This
    wetton347 Jun 23, 2010 12:54 PM
    i buy only americans cars
    Report This
    the12meetinct Jun 22, 2010 1:05 PM
    Let's wake up to the fact when you buy American you are helping to save jobs and lower your taxies. And let's not forget that Toyota and the like from that part of the world made and sold us junk years ago. And Yes the Big 3 US auto makers let their quality slide and had to wake up or go out of business. I have own Toyota's and European car's in the past and had many problems with them. And Yes they have improved their quality but so have the Big 3 US auto makers. And unless your uneducated, blind and cannot hear then you would realize the American Big 3 now can stand up against any vehicle made around the world. I find it odd someone living in this country would put it down so much on this sight. I guess you must work for a foreign dealership or you just cannot afford a decent auto. The Cheap vehicles are junk no mater who you buy them from. I currently drive and use for sales calls a Cadillac CTS that has over 121,thousand miles on it with No Problems at all. I've done one complete tune up ,do the required oil and filter change and purchased a few good tires for the vehicle. I have not purchased a new vehicle due to the uncertain US economy and a possible double dip. And I have no plans of trading in my current CTS but will be holding out for the New Loaded Two Door CTS 4 Coupe. America's Big 3 auto makers have changed and it is time for Americans to wake up and give them a chance again.
    Report This
    mrpushrod1 Jun 22, 2010 10:22 AM
    What a bunch of jokers in this BLOG. Has anyone ever taken a ride in a NY cab? All of those vehicle are very high mileage. Why wouldn't all those Cab companies run more fuel efficient Nissans, Toyotas and Hondas. Answer, because none of them hold up like the Crown Vic. Why would the cabbies want to earn less? They don't. They save because the CV holds up in severe service.
    Report This
    thud81 Jun 22, 2010 9:02 AM
    Does it come with a matching platinum walker?
    Report This
    kazenoya1 Jun 22, 2010 5:53 AM
    ok what about trucks for working men? 67 chevy k10 323,000 miles before she was scraped for too much rust, the 305 v-6 (yes I said six cyl.) still ran great. 75 Dodge Ramcharger 280,000 before I primed her pink (not enough red oxide pigment) and traded her for a Motorcycle. She's still running though Ive seen. 79 Dodge power wagon, knocked down an electric pole and didnt even wince, shes rolled over 200,000 before I gave it to one of my workers, still running around town. 1970 Chevy Blazer 296,000 , no rust, ran great until I sold her to buy a new one. 78 Ford Bronco. Best 1/2 ton 4x4 drive train in history of 4x4 428,000 hard miles. Then on a whim I hot rodded the motor, got 21 mpg ( 36 inch super swamper tires) with 385 real real horsepower out of the original boat anchor 351M and put another 200K new miles on motor before selling her. She still runs around town on same motor 18 years later. These were my personal drivers. All beat up hard in mudholes. My company trucks, all one tons, have over 300k miles each but every two years we do the necessary body work and add fresh paint and they look like a new fleet. In contruction we beat our trucks. Off road I do the same, oh by the way I did (must have been drunk) buy a 87 Nissan hardbody 4x4 when thay first came out, what a piece of poo. Was always something needing replacement. 3 exhaust manifolds and one alternator in first six months. Went back to American. For work truck and even 1/2 play trucks we cant beat America's real trucks, at least until a person can afford a Unimog. Today?...03 Chevy Avalanche since new, 142,000 miles and just broken in, one cat converter due to rust up north after 100,000 miles, and tires. thats it...tires... Clear coat still shines new.....oh forgot, bumpers hold up to tailgaters but I still hate plastic. Next truck in mind? I love my Avalanche so much even though its not a work truck, but Im putting one ton live axles and gusseting the frame, and leaf springs, because I abhore independent front suspensions. Custom real steel bumpers and Im good for another 7 years. By then the motor might be ready for a 40 over to a 383 cu inch with a super charger for 10 sec 1/4's. Oh for all you whiners..... when I build old truck motors I always get over 20 mpg with 350 plus horsepower in 4x4's When is Japan going to build real trucks for real men?
    Report This
    thethudelh Jun 22, 2010 5:50 AM
    Problem here is that Pontiac is no longer around screw GM they F**KED up getting rid of Pontiac. And WTF? Buick come on they dont sell that many cars except to the old people who cant afford Caddilacs. And chevy forget it. I looked at a Chevy Silverado the other day brand new on the lot and it was already falling apart. So tell me why get rid of Pontiac...cuz they were the BEST car GM made. Anywho I know I was getting off topic. I think that the consumer reports on this were biased. All of them but that POS Buick were foreign. BTW the Prius is a joke. The only car I thought could belong on that was the Mercedes. Seriously y'all need to look at more brands of cars especially American made cars.
    Report This
    taystur Jun 22, 2010 5:23 AM
    to all you fools who talk about your jap cars being the best just pull up next to me at a red light some time i have a 1996 mustang gt with 114000 miles on it and quite a few upgrades...and i have yet to come across any jap car or german car for that matter that can keep up...its not even fun anymore....only car to ever smoke me was a 2007 corvette with a supercharger!!! america can still make a damn fine car...
    Report This
    jrivas2956 Jun 22, 2010 5:05 AM
    1988 ford ranger. 354,000 miles when i traded for another ranger. NEVER any problems. Relpaced a lot of batteries [7] alternators[3] 1 water pump.
    Report This
    kv37 Jun 22, 2010 4:49 AM
    LaCrosse is a boat-car.
    Report This
    tplayer49 Jun 22, 2010 4:22 AM
    GM and Ford? No way, America.... when are you going to make a good affordable car to compete with the imports? Some important thoughts. One car doing well could just be luck. Most "American" cars are made in other countries. Does that make them American... or does it just make the rich guys richer?
    Report This
    nq00000000049441 Jun 22, 2010 3:36 AM
    Lots of "Hype". No mileage figures. Don't you "get it"?
    Report This
    silwarr Jun 22, 2010 3:29 AM
    2001 Ford Crown Victoria LX Performance Package, fast, powerful ,reliable as heck!!! Only recurring troble is front suspension, ball joints, tie rods go too fast
    Report This
    akarandomhero7 Jun 22, 2010 3:17 AM
    BMW's are the perfect car. They are a tad more expensive but well worth it in the long run because youll hardly be in the shop. You know the old saying you get what you pay for? BMW is the perfect example. My 89 3 series had more features in it standard than most cheap cars do today. 300,000+ miles and my friend is still driving it. For 1700 bucks thats the best car I'll ever own. Time will tell on my 96 I just bought but honestly it looks and feels like it rolled out of Bavaria 2 years ago.
    Report This
    broncs99 Jun 22, 2010 2:38 AM
    I have a 2003 Mercedes SLK320 and it still looks and runs like a new car. We also own a 2009 Toyota Camry which is a piece of cheap junk . . . will never buy another Toyota. It's noisy inside, feels cheap,and has tons of problems. We're getting ready to buy a 2011 Chevy Impala when they come out, so hopefully it will be as good as the 2005 Impala we had. My husband had a serious accident in that car and it saved his life. However, would only buy Mercedes if I had the money to buy one.
    Report This
    1 - 20 of 108 Comments
    Leave A Comment?
    Please keep your comments relevant to the 10 Smart Cars To Buy Now And Drive For A Decade article.
    Mapquest Gas Sweepstakes

    Featured AOL Autos Editors

    Fetching latest post ...
    Fetching latest post ...
    Fetching latest post ...

    Great Auto Loan Rates

    Low Rates on New and Used Autos

    Presented By Apply In One Easy Step »

    AOL Autos Facebook Activity


    Order Carfax Report
    Powered by
    Get a free CARFAX record check for a used car
    Go >>
    Follow AOL Autos on Twitter


    Your Comment:
    Send Report Cancel