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What are the cheapest cars to insure?

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

Article Highlights

Before you buy a new car, you need to find out how much you’ll pay to insure it.

Insurance companies apply many factors in determining your auto insurance rate. Personal factors play a big role in the premium you’ll pay, but insurers also consider the risks involved in insuring specific makes and models of automobiles.

Luckily, the internet has made it easier to find out important information about a vehicle before you lay down your hard-earned money. You can research repair costs, safety ratings and even request insurance quotes for the automobile of your dreams to avoid making a costly mistake. In 2020, several new vehicles offer a great combination of reliability, safety and cheap insurance rates.

Least expensive cars to insure in 2020

In 2020, U.S. automobile owners paid an average annual car insurance rate of $1,555. But averages don’t tell the whole story. Insurers charge higher premiums for certain makes and models of vehicles and lower rates for others.

In the long run, shopping for car insurance before you buy a new car can save you money on future premiums. Several factors play a role in how providers set car insurance rates for a make and model of automobile, including:

  • Automobile style: Family-style vehicles get much better insurance rates that sports cars. Drivers with a sports car probably like to drive fast, which increases their risk of paying a claim.
  • Repair costs: Insurers charge higher premiums for cars that are expensive to repair. When insurance companies set rates, they consider the price and availability of an automobile’s parts. Providers may also charge higher rates for vehicles with a track record of mechanical problems because unreliable cars can breakdown on the road and potentially cause an accident.
  • Safety features: Safety features such as electronic stability control and rear collision warning systems can help drivers avoid accidents. Features such as driver and passenger side airbags help reduce collision injuries and fatalities. Insurers don’t like paying claims. That’s why they charge higher rates to cover vehicles with poor crash test results and inadequate safety devices.
  • Sticker price: Expensive automobiles cost more to replace if they’re stolen or totaled in an accident. Insurers charge more to insure high-priced luxury vehicles because it increases their risk of paying a high claim.
  • Theft rates: Car thieves target certain types of automobiles. Insurers track car theft statistics and charge higher rates for vehicles popular with car thieves.

We’ve selected a handful of automobiles that fit the needs of most U.S. drivers. Our top picks are reliable, don’t cost much to maintain, and best of all, are among the cheapest to insure in 2020.

Sedans 

  • Honda Fit LX: $1,379
  • Fiat 500L Pop: $1,336

SUVs

  • Mazda CX-3 Sport: $1,324
  • Honda CR-V LX: $1,333

Trucks

  • GMC Canyon: $1,411
  • Chevrolet Colorado: $1,439

Honda Fit LX

The 2020 Honda Fit LX starts at around $17,145. Repair Pal gives the Fit LX a 4.5 out of 5-star reliability rating, and its owners spend an average of around $390 per year on repairs. Car and Driver gives the Fit LX an overall crash test rating of 5 out of 5 stars

Safety features include a back-up camera, driver and passenger-side airbags, electronic stability control and side-impact beams. Based on the most recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) car theft data, thieves rarely target the Honda Fit LX.

Safety FeatureHonda FIT LX Rating
Moderate overlap frontGood
SideGood
Roof strengthGood
Head restraints and seatsGood

Fiat 500L Pop

With a starting price of $23,995, the Fiat 500L Pop features child safety locks, curtain front seat and back seat airbags, driver knee airbags and rear parking sensors. 500L Pop owners spend an average of $640 per year on repairs and Repair Pal gives the automobile a 3.5 reliability rating. According to the NHTSA, just 35 500L Pops were stolen in 2014, the most recent theft data.

Safety FeatureFiat 500L Pop Rating
Small overlap front – driver-sidePoor
Moderate overlap frontGood
SideGood
Roof strengthGood
Head restraints and seatsGood

Mazda CX-3 Sport

Car and Driver gives the Mazda CX-3 Sport a 5-star overall crash test rating. It starts at $21,685 and comes equipped with an airbag occupancy sensor, a low tire pressure warning system, a rear collision warning system and a blind spot monitoring system. Repair Pal gives the CX-3 Sport a 4.5-star reliability rating, and its owners pay an annual average of around $345 on repairs.

Safety FeatureMazda CX-3 Sport Rating
Small overlap front – driver-sideGood
Small overlap front – passenger-sideGood
Moderate overlap frontGood
SideGood
Roof strengthGood
Head restraints and seatsGood

Honda CR-V LX

On average, Honda CR-V LX owners pay around $407 per year for auto repairs, which has earned this SUV a 4.5-star Repair Pal reliability rating. According to the most recent NHTSA data, thieves stole just 115 CR-V LXs in 2014. The 2020 Honda CR-V LX starts at around $26,170 and features a lane-keeping assist system, collision mitigation braking system, electronic stability control and blind spot information system. Car and Driver gives the CR-V LX a 5-star overall crash test rating.

Safety FeatureHonda CR-V LX Rating
Small overlap front – driver-sideGood
Small overlap front – passenger-sideGood
Moderate overlap frontGood
SideGood
Roof strengthGood
Head restraints and seatsGood

GMC Canyon

GMC Canyon owners pay an average of $548 annually on repairs, which has earned this truck a 4-star Repair Pal reliability rating. The 2020 Canyon starts at around $23,395 and comes equipped with daytime running lamps, electronic tracking control, a rear vision camera and a stability control system. Car and Driver gives the Canyon a 4-star crash test rating. Based on the latest NHTSA data, car thieves rarely target the GMC Canyon.

Safety FeatureGMC Canyon Rating
Small overlap front – driver-sideGood
Small overlap front – passenger-sideMarginal
Moderate overlap frontGood
SideGood
Roof strengthGood
Head restraints and seatsGood

Chevrolet Colorado

The 2020 Chevrolet Colorado starts at $22,495. Safety features of the Colorado include OnStar service capability, a high definition rear vision camera, driver and passenger front and side-impact airbags, electronic traction control, a tire fill alert system and daytime running lights. 

Car and Driver gives the Chevrolet Colorado a four-star overall crash test rating. NHTSA statistics indicate that thieves rarely steal this Chevy pickup. On average, Colorado owners pay around $599 per year on auto repairs, which has earned the truck a four-star Repair Pal reliability rating.

Safety FeatureChevrolet Colorado Rating
Small overlap front – driver-sideAcceptable
Moderate overlap frontGood
SideAcceptable
Roof strengthGood
Head restraints and seatsGood

Do the least expensive vehicles always have the lowest premiums?

Cars with low sticker prices often cost less to insure, but not always. Some makes and models of automobiles are more attractive to thieves, even some economy vehicles. For example, the 2020 Honda Fit LX has a sticker price of around $17,145 and the 2020 Honda Civic costs about $19,750. While both are economy cars made by Honda, thieves target the Civic more frequently than the Fit LX. In fact, the Honda Civic was the most frequently stolen vehicle in 2018, according to the Insurance Information Institute

The price of an automobile is just one factor insurers consider when setting auto insurance rates. Reliability and safety issues can prompt providers to charge higher rates for a certain make and model, even for economy cars. If a vehicle has a messy recall history, carriers may charge higher rates due to safety concerns.

But insurers also consider many personal factors when setting car insurance rates, including your:

  • Age
  • Annual mileage
  • Claims history
  • Coverage history
  • Coverage deductibles, limits and types
  • Credit history
  • Driving experience
  • Driving record
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Marital status

If you have factors that label you as a higher-risk driver, you might have higher rates even if you have a less expensive car to insure. 

Why does the car you drive affect your insurance rates?

“Many factors affect how much you pay for car insurance, such as your age, driving history, location, annual mileage and credit, in most states,” says insurance expert Laura Adams. “But the make and model of your vehicle is one of the most important. Cars with more claims or higher claim amounts are less profitable for insurers, so they charge higher premiums to offset losses.”

When purchasing car insurance, an agent will need to know about your auto claims history. If you’ve filed numerous claims in the past, the insurer will consider you more likely to file a claim in the future. But makes and models of automobiles have claims histories too. For example, industry-wide, Nissan Altima drivers filed more medical payments claims than any other car owners between 2016 and 2018, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Insurers also track the repair costs of various automobile makes and models and mitigate their risk by charging higher premiums for vehicles that cause the highest losses. “In general, cars that cost less to repair or replace have lower insurance premiums,” says Adams. “Also, SUVs and minivans, which tend to have good safety ratings and fewer injury claims, cost relatively less to insure.”

The takeaway

  • Always shop for car insurance before buying a new car.
  • Repair costs, safety ratings and theft rates play a major role in the way providers set car insurance rates.
  • The price of an automobile isn’t always an indicator of how much it will cost to insure.
  • Personal factors also play a part in determining the price you’ll pay for car insurance.

When it’s time to shop for a new car, always research the cost of insurance before making a purchase. Besides personal factors such as your driving record and credit history, insurance providers also set rates based on the repair costs, reliability and theft rate of a vehicle.

Typically, insurers offer the best rates for family-friendly vehicles such as sedans, SUVs and trucks but charge higher premiums for luxury automobiles and sports cars. The internet era has made it easy to avoid buying a vehicle that will cost a small fortune to insure. Request a few car insurance quotes online before you head to the auto dealership.

Michael Evans

Michael is an insurance writer for Coverage.com. He began writing professionally in the 1990s while working for the world’s first online mortgage broker, and today specializes in education, finance and retiring abroad. Michael has contributed to numerous digital and print publications, including Bankrate, Fox Business, International Living and Yahoo Finance, and is the author of Escape to Colombia, 1st Edition, a comprehensive guide to retiring to Colombia.

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