Hunting for a new car is a fun and exciting experience, but it’s not without stress. There are just so many options out there — and they have a big impact on how much you’ll pay over the life of the vehicle.
For the majority of car-buyers, the buying process shares one common equation: find the best vehicle for the best value. Some people prioritize horsepower or appearance, others focus on more practical elements, like fuel efficiency or cargo space.
One variable commonly overlooked by shoppers is the cost of insurance. The majority of Canadians know they need coverage to own and operate a vehicle, but they rarely think about how much a car impacts insurance.
Insurance premiums can vary widely even within comparable classes of vehicle. A $16,000 hatchback could be more expensive to insure than a $20,000 competitor.
We dug into the records of our auto insurance comparison tool to find out which vehicles are the cheapest to insure. The list certainly holds some surprises.
Here’s our list of the 10 cheapest cars to insure in Canada over the past 12 months:
|Rank||Vehicle||Annual cost to insure|
|1||2016 Ford F-150 XLT Supercrew 4wd||$2,045|
|2||2010 Dodge Grand Caravan SE||$2,231|
|3||2006 Dodge Caravan||$2,244|
|4||2005 Dodge Caravan||$2,352|
|5||2007 Dodge Caliber Sxt 5dr||$2,375|
|6||2005 Toyota Corolla CE 4dr||$2483|
|7||2014 Mazda3 GS Sky 4dr||$2,565|
|8||2009 Nissan Altima 2.5 S 4dr||$2,566|
|9||2012 Ford Focus||$2,588|
|10||2007 Toyota Corolla CE 4dr||$2,605|
And here’s what the list tells us about how a vehicle contributes to determining insurance cost.
The dream vehicle for insurance companies is one that never gets into an accident. That’s why those equipped with features that mitigate danger, such as a backup camera or automatic emergency brakes, receive preferential treatment. It’s no coincidence that the number one vehicle on the list scores high when it comes to safety.
Safety features that were once novel are becoming more and more standard these days. And it’s clear that the cars that pack them in — like the Ford F-150 Supercrew —- are beloved by insurers.
A vehicle’s age
There is a bit of an age range represented by the list, but aside from the 2016 Ford F-150 XLT Supercrew, all of the vehicles are at least a few years old. But not too old.
Older vehicles retain less value than new ones, making them less expensive to fix and replace, and in general, cheaper to insure. But old vehicles also tend to break down more often. The sweet spot for insurers lies somewhere between the expensive new models and the decrepit old ones.
The range from 2005-2012 boasts eight of the 10 cheapest cars to insure. They’re old enough that any insurance compensation is manageable, but new enough that the engine isn’t at risk of cutting out on the middle of the highway.
Price range of the vehicle
I mentioned before that lavish sports cars are inherently more expensive to insure than less-garish alternatives, and that’s something reflected in our list. As with the age of a vehicle, it’s about finding the sweet spot between an expensive car that will cost a lot to repair and a cheap car of dubious quality. Insurers find the right balance of risk and cost somewhere in between.
Reputation of the vehicle
Each list entry is a well-known and successful model from a well-known producer. Ford, Dodge, Nissan, Mazda, Toyota –- these are all brands insurance companies are comfortable with.
Popular cars don’t get an automatic advantage (note the conspicuously absent Honda Civic), but they accumulate data quickly, and so long as that data is positive, they are perceived as reputable and reliable. This is in part why the Dodge Caravan, an apparent deity of cheap-to-insurance cars, dominates our findings.
Personal factors also play a part
Our findings shed light on the variables that determine a car’s insurance expense, but it’s necessary to acknowledge some other factors at play. Namely, factors connected to the driver instead of the vehicle.
Your age, postal code, daily commute and driving history all affect your auto insurance rate. If you’re 19 and have a spotty driving record, you’re going to pay more to insurance your car than a 50-year-old with a glowing record. Even if you drive the vaunted Dodge Caravan.