When it’s time to buy a new car, many shoppers don’t really take into account what they’ll be paying each year for insurance — despite that insurance costs really make a difference in total costs of ownership. So, it makes sense to know a little bit about how different cars stack up: After all, we pay attention to the sticker price on the lot. Why not “kick the tires” on insurance costs as well?
Many of us understand some of the most basic things about how a car model gets insured. We know that big, flashy, high-performance cars are going to cost more to keep on the road. We know that high-value luxury and exotic cars are also going to command higher premiums, partly because of the expensive stuff inside. But most of us don’t really know which makes and models of common family cars can be cheaper to insure.
In a recent press release, California operator Mercury Insurance released results from the firm’s study of 100 different cars in 2012 to 2015 model years. The study looked at how much the average driver would pay for liability, comprehensive and collision premiums in California. Although Mercury did not provide cost estimates, here is a list of the vehicles that the company designated as top 10 most easily insurable choices.
10. Toyota Sienna
Coming in as the 10th-easiest and most cost-effective vehicle to insure is the Toyota Sienna, a “dad-van” popular with families that sports good safety ratings and a general reputation for quality. Mercury’s designation adds even more appeal to this minivan, the only one to offer all-wheel drive.
9. Hyundai Elantra
To imagine Hyundai 10 or 15 years ago on any sort of top 10 list was laughable, but now the Korean brand can’t stay away from them. The 2016 Elantra is available in sedan and hatchback models, offers a choice of powerplants, and is rated by Mercury as the ninth best vehicle to insure.
The Mazda3 also attains its spot on the list as a cheap-to-insure and leading compact. The 2016 model gets a 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine offering 30/41 miles per gallon. The 3 has also gotten high marks for its driving dynamics, handling, and all-around fantastic value.
7. MINI Countryman
This not-as-mini Mini is another easy-to-insure small vehicle. Its four-cylinder engine gets 27/34 miles per gallon, and matched with a standard manual transmission, it’s a sporty and stylish way to get around. You wouldn’t think of a Mini to be cheap to insure, but Mercury found otherwise.
6. Scion xB
At No. 6 is the Scion xB, but not for long — the cute ute is on its way out to pasture. Generally, Scions overall will fall on the lower end of the insurance spectrum (save for maybe the FR-S), but in terms of affordable utility and low costs of ownership, the xB will be a hard act to follow.
5. Ford Edge
The Ford Edge is one of the company’s best-selling SUVs. A turbocharged four-cylinder provides 20 miles per gallon city, and 30 miles per gallon on the highway. There’s also an available V6 and optional all-wheel drive; all told, at No. 5 on Mercury’s low-cost-to-insure list, the Ford Edge represents one of the best utility bargains.
4. Honda Pilot
A staple of suburban America, Honda’s Pilot encapsulates dependability, utility, relative fuel efficiency, and according to Mercury, easy insurability. With its sharp new looks, it’s hard to think of any significant reasons as to why families wouldn’t consider this vehicle.
3. Honda CR-V
At No. 3 is the Honda CR-V compact SUV that’s prized for its comfortable interior, family-friendly features, and safety ratings. With an estimated 27/34 miles per gallon, the CRV is a fuel-efficient SUV as well as one that’s easier to pay premiums on.
2. Ford Fiesta
Ford’s leading sub-compact can be equipped with either a base four-cylinder engine or a wonderful turbocharged three-cylinder engine; as an entry-level compact car, the Fiesta stole silver on Mercury’s list of most easily insurable vehicles. Opt for the hot-headed Fiesta ST, though, and expect to see those premiums take flight. If it were up to us, it’d be totally worth it.
1. Honda Fit
The Honda Fit wins the prize for most insurable car of the year — this small vehicle also gets high marks for a comfortable cabin and good fuel economy, with 33/41 miles per gallon. Powered by a naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine, the 2016 Fit also boasts features like Bluetooth and a rearview camera, along with satellite radio and navigation.
Why are these vehicles cheaper to insure? What goes into insurance company calculations? According to some experts, it’s all about fixability. In a press release, Jim Reeves, Group Manager of R&D for Mercury, says vehicle repair is a very important component of risk and insurance calculations.
“The vehicles on our list, led by the Honda Fit, are more than 10 percent cheaper to insure than the average of all cars and trucks insured by Mercury,” Reeves noted.
As for the top-ranked Honda Fit, it makes sense that a small car like this would be right up toward the top of the list when it comes to body shop fixes. The 2015 Fit also gets a “best crash score in class” from Consumer Reports, and has been named an IIHS top safety pick. It looks like Honda craftsmanship, delivered in this small package, can provide lower total cost of ownership for price-conscious customers, so look for more on this popular minicar as the next model year rolls around.