Car years are like dog years. They age much faster than we do. The average life cycle of a car is getting shorter and shorter as automakers compete to have the latest and greatest redesign on the block. In between redesigns, many automakers try to trick you into thinking that a car is "all-new" when it's really just a quick touch-up job without changing anything underneath.
Facelifts can only do so much, though; you can nip and tuck all you want, but you can't avoid a true, bottom-to-top redesign. In today's market, any car that's gone six or more model years without a major makeover is most likely getting long in the tooth. Here are the models currently on the market that have gone the longest without a redo.
(Note that big trucks are not included on this list because they have longer lifespans. Models like the Ford F-150 are revised and tweaked each year, but the basic formula stays the same for years and years on end.)
10. Volvo S80 Last redesign: 2006 Volvo's biggest sedan is in a weird place in the market. It's bigger than midsized luxury cars like the BMW 5-Series but it's not nearly in the same class as the large luxury sedans, i.e., the BMW 7-Series. Compared to the curvy, modern new Volvo models like the S60 sedan and the XC60 crossover, this car represents more traditional Volvo fare -- boxy, safe and boring -- at a time when Volvos have gotten more exciting to look at and to drive.
9. Subaru Tribeca Last redesign: 2006 You probably forgot that this even existed. The Tribeca was first introduced as the B9 Tribeca. Even after the awkward "B9" was taken off the name, the Tribeca never took off like Subaru hoped, so they haven't seen any need to redesign it since. Instead of this blob-like crossover, everyone preferred the ever-popular Outback. Subaru still sells the Tribeca, though, in small numbers -- only around 2,000 were sold in 2012, making it one of the worst-selling cars in the country. A facelift in 2007 means it's gotten slightly less strange-looking over the years, but now it's so bland that it's hardly distinguishable from any other crossover on the road.
8. Volkswagen Eos Last redesign: 2006 The Eos is a perfectly nice convertible, but no one seems to care. It's based on the VW Golf and has one of those slick hardtop convertible roofs that were all the rage in the early 2000s. Unfortunately, the complexity of these folding roof mechanisms means that the car is way too heavy and way too expensive. You can spend more than $40,000 on an Eos and all you're getting is basically a Golf convertible. If you really want a VW droptop, just buy a Beetle convertible instead.
7. Jaguar XK Last redesign: 2006 Proving that true beauty can be timeless, the XK still looks good for its age in both coupe and convertible forms. Jaguar's polarizing new styling direction departs from tradition, but the XK preserves the flowing lines and classic oval grille from the golden age of Jaguars. Sadly, the rest of the car is having a hard time hiding its age, especially in the area of technology. Think about how much cellphones have changed since 2006 and you'll understand why the XK's touchscreen infotainment interface might start to feel a little slow these days.
6. Toyota Corolla Last redesign: 2006 Most of these outdated cars have slipping sales to reflect their old age, but not the Corolla. Toyota's small sedan consistently ranks among the Top 10 Best-Selling cars in the country, year after year. But how? It's all about its reputation. The ancient Corolla is hopelessly outclassed in the hyper-competitive compact sedan segment. In nearly every area -- fuel economy, technology, interior space and styling -- the Corolla lags behind modern competitors like the Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze. It has a four-speed automatic that has become a relic of the past compared to everyone else's six-speeds, just to name one example. Thankfully, a new Corolla should be announced sometime this year.
5. Mazda MX-5 Miata Last redesign: 2005 The ever-eager Miata is one of the few cars on this list that might not need a redesign. Since its introduction in 1989, it's only gone through three generations. In that same time span, the Toyota Camry has gone through six different generations. Maybe the reason these generations last so long is that Mazda engineers know they have to get the Miata exactly right. With such a storied nameplate, there's an enormous amount of effort behind each redesign of the Miata to maintain the tossable, light and fun nature of this perfectly balanced roadster.
4. Mercedes-Benz S-Class Last redesign: 2005 Mercedes-Benz's big bruiser sedan is the limousine of choice for diplomats all over the world. Especially in black, the S-Class commands presence wherever it goes. The most recent generation of the S-Class made a pretty radical styling departure when it came out in 2005, but what looked fresh and different then is starting to look stale and dated now. Sure, they've introduced a hybrid version since then and given it a few new engines, but the car hasn't otherwise changed much over the years. A few spy shots have surfaced recently, though, meaning that the next S-Class is just around the corner.
3. BMW 1 Series Last redesign: 2004 BMW's smallest entry came to the U.S. in 2008 after it had already been selling well in Europe for four years. The 1 Series has garnered rave reviews from enthusiasts because of its small, fun-to-drive demeanor. In fact, it's more well-regarded than many of BMW's newer models because of its simplicity. The larger BMWs of the past few years have come under flack for their increasing size and computerization, all of which have contributed to some critics' opinions that BMW has lost its edge as "the ultimate driving machine." In a way, the 1 Series represents the golden age of BMW that rests in the past.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
2. Audi A3 Last redesign: 2003 Like the 1 Series, the A3 is a small, premium German car that was brought over to the U.S. to provide a lower entry point for the Audi brand. Despite its age, the A3 still looks pretty good and remains competitive in most aspects. It's a peppy, fun-to-drive car with either an eager turbo engine or an extremely efficient diesel. Think of it as a Volkswagen GTI but more mature. It was never really that popular, though (no one buys premium hatchbacks in the U.S.), so Audi just introduced a new A3 sedan made specifically for the U.S. market. Maybe the addition of a trunk will allow this model to get to the heart of the entry-level luxury market.
1. Volvo XC90 Last redesign: 2003 Here's an example of a car whose popularity belies its age. A modern replacement for the classic Volvo station wagon, the XC90 had perfect timing at its release at the peak of the SUV craze. The XC90 was a hot commodity in 2004 and 2005 as soccer moms all across the world snatched them up because of their seven leather-trimmed seats, versatile cargo area and, last but not least, Volvo's timeless reputation for safety. Since then, competitors like the Mercedes ML have gone through two generations in the time that this Volvo has been languishing away with nary a facelift in ten years. Nowadays XC90 sales aren't what they used to be, but this crossover is still one of Volvo's best-selling models even though it is well past its prime.