The Honda Accord sedan and Toyota Highlander crossover/SUV are considered two of the most reliable and durable vehicles one can buy. We tracked the real-world costs to maintain and repair both so that they remained in top condition for 100,000 miles. What we found, to our surprise, was that the Highlander crossover/SUV cost about double what the Accord sedan cost to keep in good condition.
Our claim that these two have a solid reputation for reliability and durability is easy to support. Both the 2006 Honda Accord and the 2007 Toyota Highlander earn a 5/5 rating, the highest possible, from Consumer Reports. Both brands also enjoy high resale values and have a stellar reputation as reliable used vehicles.
Our Honda Accord sedan cost us $7,684 over about 13 years, and 100,000 miles to maintain and repair. During that time, it never once left us stranded, and there were no serious individual repairs that cost us money. We found that brakes and tires made up about half the total cost of maintenance. The most unusual repair we had to make cost us nothing. Our moonroof exploded on one trip, but insurance covered it with zero deductible.
Our Toyota Highlander crossover/SUV was a bit different. Although it never left us stranded, it was mostly luck. Both the transmission cooler and "heavy duty" alternator failed and required replacement. Ironically, these two items were optional and part of the trailer package we never used. The Highlander also ate brakes and wheel bearings. While we do admit to a tire fetish, the Highlander also seemed to use up tires more rapidly than other vehicles we have owned. In total, we spent $14,029 to keep the Highlander running like new over 100,000 miles and about 11 and a half years.
Both of the vehicles have served more than one generation in our family. We LOVE both of these cars. The Accord is fast. It can run from 0-60 MPH in under six seconds, about as fast as a Standard Tesla Model 3. It is also comfortable and looks great, even after 13 years. The Accord has been to most of the Northeast states, Quebec and Ontario, and back and forth to Florida.
The Highlander is the ultimate in practicality. We used the pop-up third-row jump seats many times when we had the extended family together for dinners out. The kids loved those seats when they were little. The Highlander also carried a full week's worth of outdoor gear, much of it in a soft cargo bag on the roof or hanging off the trailer hitch bike rack, to many family vacations. It was also our go-to vehicle when we went back and forth to hockey. Both of my sons learned to drive in the Highlander, and they now share it. The Highlander has made college buddy road trips to see band competitions in Pennsylvania, has safely completed three years of high school commutes, and been to two proms.
Both the Highlander and Accord were also the safest vehicles in their segments when we bought them. Together they are sales leaders in two huge family vehicle segments. We hope our story will help family shoppers crunching numbers on the total cost of ownership make an informed decision.