Unlike Scotch, the more a car ages, the less likely it is to appreciate and get better as time progresses. Fifteen years seems like an awfully long time ago: a time when the infamous suggestion came along that the world would collapse thanks to Y2K was still fresh in thought, as was a new century with the future of automotive ahead of it. Finding a 15-year-old car that’s reliable enough to drive you day, night, to work, or relaxation could be a hard sell, but we try and narrow it down to five choices we think could get you through the next 15.
Somewhat of an urban tank, a RAV4 from 15 years ago is as highly praised among the majority of its owners as a 15-year-old child might be. With high marks in safety, reliability and overall value, the RAV4 runs like a deer, has longevity like a turtle, and takes whatever you can throw at it. The RAV4 might be a bit sluggish in the performance department, but with a good seating position for seeing the road ahead, it’s not how fast you get there but how often. As a bonus, you can pick up the RAV4 with a 5-speed manual and a locking differential if you look hard enough.
Possibly the most obvious choice, the Honda Civic is what we think about when we think reliability and ease of ownership. In short, the Civic has solid build quality mixed with a small eco-friendly motor that’s built to last. With so many iterations of Civic models, you can get a hatchback, sedan or coupe to reflect what type of styling you prefer. Base models are incredibly fuel-efficient with 40-plus miles per gallon and for the go-fast people; the Si (pronounced S-I) increases power and allows the motor to rev higher and higher for an incredibly rewarding experience.
Essentially a re-skinned Toyota, the IS300 used their powerhouse 2JZ inline-six cylinder motor, which was also used in many other cars of the era. With a vast parts database, even the minor repairs are cheap with the amount of available replacement parts. Throw in rear-wheel drive and you have a potent toy at your disposal. This Lexus was made to take on the German sport sedans of the day, and with the quality and dependability, it should have a fighting chance of taking a spot in your garage.
The last version of the Cherokee with the 4.0-liter inline six motor is reliable, capable and can be had for a non-wallet-crushing amount. They are known for motors that won't quit and with simple maintenance can be kept running for years. It's a compact SUV that's big on capability and functionality with a timeless character to it. The four-wheel drive is legendary and gas mileage is decent thanks to lightweight construction.
Let’s be clear, BMWs aren’t cheap to own, but with the correct maintenance schedule and purchase from a reputable seller, you will have a car that is built to last. Another inline six motor, the 3 Series perfected balance and power in a car that sold by the boatload. Make sure to be scrupulous with checking records and make sure preventative maintenance was carried out through its life. While not anywhere near Toyota levels of reliability, there’s a reason why many BMW 3 Series have hundreds of thousands of miles on the clock.
Currently the full-time Editorial Director and Content Manager for RxSpeed.com, & contributing writer for Scout.com. He also loves photography, videography, his Shiba Inu Mia and driving sports cars.