The most and least expensive 2012 vehicles to insure

By Emmet Pierce Features

If you want to drive a flashy new car that turns heads and gives you an adrenaline rush when you step on the gas, you'll have to reach deeper into your pocket to pay for auto insurance.

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In's 2012 rankings of the most and least expensive vehicles to insure, we found that high-priced cars with powerful engines and European pedigrees come with the highest car insurance quotes. The reasons: More crashes, higher repair bills and expensive injuries.

Americans have long associated car styles with personal image. You may view the vehicle you drive as an extension of your personality. When you get behind the wheel of an expensive car, people form an impression of your personal worth and social status. Practical cars such as minivans are more economical, but they don't have the same bragging rights.

We surveyed auto insurance rates for more than 900 vehicles in the 2012 model year. This year's least expensive vehicle to insure: The four-cylinder Toyota Sienna LE minivan.

At the other end of the road is the 2012 Audi R8 Spyder Quattro convertible.  With an MSRP north of $160,000, this 10-cylinder two-seater is the most expensive car to insure in this model year. 

See the top and bottom 20 rankings below. Average annual rates shown are for comparative purposes and are based on a specific driver profile. (See methodology below.)

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Too sexy for my car

2012 Toyota Sienna LEThe Toyota Sienna LE carries the least expensive average auto insurance rate.


Geoffrey Miller, an evolutionary psychologist and associate professor at the University of New Mexico, says your choice of car says a lot about the way you perceive yourself. Driving a sporty car may be just another way of saying, "Hey, look at me, I'm really cool," especially for men, he says.

"We know from biology that males typically are more ardent about displaying all sorts of sexual ornaments to attract mates, ranging from the peacock's tale to the gorilla's muscles to the human's luxury goods," Miller says. "I suspect these cars are bought disproportionally by single guys or guys whose marital commitment is not 100 percent.”

He also points out, “It is why young single males are the most dangerous drivers, because they are on the mating market."

Signs of success

Audi R8 Spyder Quattro ConvertibleThe Audi R8 Spyder Quattro Convertible carries the most expensive average auto insurance rate.


If driving a hot sports car says you are seeking status and attention, what does driving a cheap-to-insure minivan say about you?

"A minivan says, 'I am happily married with kids,'” says Miller. "It says, 'I am not on the mating market. I care more about safety than flash.'"

Jill Bookman, CEO of Cherry Hill, N.J.-based American Collectors Insurance, insures new, limited-production cars and classic automobiles. She says for most buyers, it's all about chasing the dream.

"The reason people want to own a car that lightens their wallet by $100,000 is because it is … a physical representation of success. You have the wherewithal to purchase something that everyone knows is an expensive car."

Choosing a flashy sports car can be a quest for status, but there are exceptions, says Elizabeth Lombardo, a psychologist based in Chicago. Some people genuinely value the added quality that luxury cars offer. "For some people it's 'This car is so comfortable and it drives so nicely,'" she says. "It's not, 'Hey, look what I can afford!'" 

Jim Whittle, assistant general counsel of the American Insurance Association trade group, points out the economic realities of insuring luxury cars.

"Oftentimes they are expensive because [manufacturers] only produce a certain amount of those vehicles,” he says. “Sometimes they are made with handmade parts. The cost to repair is a big driver in the cost to insure a vehicle."

Least expensive vehicles to insure (2012)

Rank Vehicle Cyl. Nat'l annual avg. rate
1 Toyota Sienna LE 4 $1,111
2 Toyota Sienna 4 $1,114
3 Jeep Patriot Sport 4 $1,116
4 Jeep Compass Sport 4 $1,118
5 GMC Sierra K1500 Regular Cab 6 $1,121
6 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Regular Cab 6 $1,125
7 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT 6 $1,129
8 Ford Escape XLS 4 $1,137
9 Toyota Sienna 6 $1,139
10 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Extended Cab 6 $1,143
11 Dodge Journey SXT 6 $1,143
12 Honda Odyssey LX 6 $1,146
13 Kia Sportage 4 $1,151
14 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS 4 $1,152
15 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport 6 $1,154
16 Nissan Frontier S King Cab 4 $1,162
17 Nissan Frontier SV King Cab 4 $1,163
18 Hyundai Tucson GL 4 $1,166
19 Ford Escape XLT 4 $1,167
20 GMC Canyon 4 $1,167


Most expensive vehicles to insure (2012)

Rank Vehicle Cyl. Nat'l annual avg. rate
1 Audi R8 Spyder Quattro Convertible 10 $3,384
2 Mercedes CL600 Coupe 12 $3,307
3 Mercedes S600
12 $2,948
4 Audi R8 4.2 Quattro Coupe 8 $2,903
5 Porsche Panamera Turbo 8 $2,738
6 BMW 750i Hybrid 8 $2,701
7 Porsche 911 Turbo Convertible 6 $2,674
8 Porsche 911 Turbo S Convertible 6 $2,674
9 Mercedes CL65 AMG Coupe 12 $2,669
10 BMW 750Li Hybrid 8 $2,641
11 Mercedes SL63 AMG Convertible 8 $2,615
12 Mercedes CL63 AMG Coupe 8 $2,613
13 Jaguar XKR Supercharged Convertible 8 $2,585
14 Mercedes S63 AMG 8 $2,542
15 Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe 8 $2,532
16 Audi A8 L Quattro 12 $2,513
17 Mercedes SL550 Convertible 8 $2,458
18 Nissan GT-R Coupe Turbo 6 $2,457
19 BMW 750XI 8 $2,446
20 BMW 750i 8 $2,430

Survey methodology commissioned Quadrant Information Services to provide a report of average auto insurance rates. We calculated rates using data for six large carriers (Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, Nationwide, Progressive and State Farm) in 10 ZIP codes per state. Not all models were available, especially exotic cars.

Averages are based on insurance for a single 40-year-old male who commutes 12 miles to work each day, with policy limits of 100/300/50 ($100,000 for injury liability for one person, $300,000 for all injuries and $50,000 for property damage in an accident) and a $500 deductible on collision and comprehensive coverage. This hypothetical driver has a clean record and good credit. The rate includes uninsured motorist coverage. Average rates are for comparative purposes. Your own rate will depend on personal factors.


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Car insurance comparison: The most and least expensive 2012 vehicles to insure