Insure.com’s recently released 2016 ranking of the least and most expensive vehicles to insure compares auto insurance rates in every state for more than 2,300 models from six major insurance companies.
This year, the top 10 “least expensive” list has some repeat winners, a new No. 1, and a surprising No. 10 while the least-expensive vehicle on the “most expensive” list is also the costliest to insure.
Least expensive to insure
Honda takes over the top two spots with the family friendly Odyssey LX minivan jumping four spots from last year to claim No. 1. The popular CR-V LX climbed one spot to No. 2.
It’s the Odyssey’s first time in the top spot, though it has been runner up twice, once in 2010 and again 2014. And it has always made Insure.com’s top 10 cheapest vehicles to insure. This isn’t the first minivan to make it to the top. The first was the Chrysler Town & Country LX in 2011 and next the Toyota Sienna LE in 2012.
“It’s no surprise that a family vehicle such as a minivan has taken over the top spot,” says Penny Gusner, consumer analyst for Insure.com. “The Odyssey has a five-star crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and is relatively inexpensive to repair, and the driver carting around children tends to be more cautious than the person driving a muscle car.”
Of the 33 manufacturer brands in the study, Jeep had the highest number of vehicles making the top 10 with the Sport varieties of the Patriot, Wrangler and Compass filling the fourth, fifth and sixth spots, respectively, while the popular Cherokee Sport made the ninth spot. This marks the third year in a row in which Jeep has been the dominating brand (tied with Honda in 2014).
“The Jeep Wrangler is arguably the best off-road vehicle you can buy for the money, and it’s being used in more generic, normal ways than ever before, perhaps that’s lowering the rate,” says Scott Oldham, editor in chief of car-buying site Edmunds.com. “It’s an urban assault vehicle – it’s fun and cool. And now, it’s a commuter vehicle. It might even be taking the kids to school and back.”
Perhaps, the biggest surprise this year is the addition of a truck in the top 10. The Nissan Frontier S King cab is the first truck to make the least expensive list.
Oldham suggests two reasons for the Frontier’s placement on the list:
- The Frontier hasn’t been redesigned in a long time.
- Because it hasn’t had any changes for longer than a normal vehicle cycle, typically 4-5 years, the parts have been mass-produced at low cost and made easily accessible. This drives down production and repair costs. Nissan hasn’t had to reinvest in the Frontier, and the long life cycle has kept the cost down, he says.
Least Expensive/Average Annual Premium
1. Honda Odyssey LX - $1,113
2. Honda CR-V LX - $1,170
3. Dodge Grand Caravan AVP 2WD - $1,174
4. Jeep Patriot Sport 2WD - $1,180
5. Jeep Wrangler Sport 4WD - $1,181
6. Jeep Compass Sport 2WD - $1,190
7. Ford Escape S 2WD - $1,194
8. Buick Encore Sport Tour 2WD - $1,200
9. Jeep Cherokee Sport 2WD - $1,203
10. Nissan Frontier S King Cab - $1,204
A new kind of top 10
No longer is the top 10 list dominated by compact cars. The wide variety of vehicles in the top 10 means there’s a low-cost insurance option for consumers’ varying needs. Cars, trucks and SUVs are no longer viewed as single-purpose vehicles. For instance, work trucks have extended cabs that fit car seats, minivans have folding rear benches to make room for camping gear or furniture, and technology like wifi easily turns vehicles into mobile offices.
“This is a utility-heavy list,” Oldham says. “SUVs, along with small SUVs, have really exploded in popularity as a segment. Many types of people have gravitated toward them. Insurance companies used to apply to these vehicles how they were used, but now they are seeing them used in many ways – as basic transportation, commuter vehicles, and family vehicles.”
“SUVs have improved their tendency to rollover, which was a big problem probably 10 years ago,” says Loretta L. Worters, Vice President of Communications at the Insurance Information Institute, “Cars are far safer today than they were years ago, which has reduced the number of fatalities.”
Location greatly affects premium
Although the rankings remain stable, the car insurance amounts vary greatly by state. The average annual policy in the country for the Honda Odyssey costs an average of $1,113; it would cost the same driver $651 in Maine and a whopping $2,387 in Michigan.
But why does where the insured lives factor into auto insurance pricing? When determining rates, insurers use metrics, such as population density, crime rate, average weather, frequency of claims, and civil services, including road maintenance and emergency response times.
“Some make and model cars have a greater likelihood of being stolen than others – typically luxury cars and sports cars,” says Worters. “A turbocharged engine, for example, is often more powerful, and people are more likely to speed with them. Not to mention the cost to replace turbochargers – which is quite expensive. Convertibles are also typically more expensive to insure because they are easier to steal.”
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