Cheapest cars to insure for new drivers

Our research found that some of the cheapest cars for new drivers to insure are the Subaru Outback, Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Ford F-150, and Toyota Tacoma.

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Rachael Brennan

Rachael Brennan

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

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New drivers typically pay much higher rates for car insurance, and16-, 17-, and 18-year-old drivers pay higher rates than any other age group. But age isn’t the only thing that impacts your rates — the type of car you drive can also affect how much you pay for car insurance.

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Young or inexperienced drivers should look for cars that are safe to drive, equipped with helpful features, and relatively cheap to insure. But choosing the right company will also help new drivers find their cheapest car insurance rates, which is why it’s so important to shop around and compare quotes.

Key takeaways

  • We found that the cheapest cars for new drivers are the Ford F-150, Honda CR-V, Toyota Tacoma, Ford Escape, and Subaru Outback.

  • Older vehicles are often much cheaper to insure, and new drivers can save even more money by buying a liability-only policy if they can afford to replace their car out-of-pocket.

  • When choosing a car for a teenage driver, there are several factors you’ll want to consider, including the cost to insure the car, the cost to repair or replace the car, available safety features, and how easy it is to drive.

The cheapest cars to insure for new drivers

The type of vehicle you buy has a big impact on your car insurance rates. Sports cars, luxury vehicles, and other expensive cars typically come with a hefty insurance premium, while used SUVs and sedans often mean lower insurance rates. 

Teens and newly-licensed drivers pay the most for car insurance of any group, but rates vary by the type of car they drive and by the company they choose. 

Based on our research, these are the cheapest cars to insure based on the most popular vehicles in the U.S.:

  • Ford F-150

  • Honda CR-V

  • Toyota Tacoma

  • Ford Escape

  • Subaru Outback

  • GMC Sierra

  • Chevy Equinox

  • Jeep Wrangler

  • Jeep Grand Cherokee

  • Subaru Forester 

Keep in mind that many factors impact your rates, including your state, age, ZIP code, driving history, and what type of car you drive. 

For example, the same driver trying to insure a Subaru Outback would pay a different rate in North Carolina, where average rates are generally lower, than they would in Michigan, which has some of the highest average car insurance rates in the nation. 

The best way to make sure you are getting the lowest possible rate is to compare quotes from multiple companies.

→ Learn more about the best car insurance for 18-year-old drivers

Can older vehicles save you money on car insurance?

Yes, in many cases, choosing an older model vehicle can save you money on car insurance, especially if you’re a new driver. Not only are older model vehicles usually cheaper to repair or replace but, if the cost of the car is low enough that you can afford to replace it out of pocket, you have the option of choosing liability-only coverage

For example, according to Kelley Blue Book, in many places in the U.S. you can purchase a used 1996 Toyota Corolla for less than $4,000. 

An 18-year-old single male driver with a clean driving record who buys that Corolla and chooses a liability-only policy through GEICO would only pay $1,124 per year for car insurance — much less than average rates for a new car.

Although older cars are usually cheaper to insure than newer cars, some makes and models may not get much cheaper to insure over time. Exotic and performance cars will likely have higher insurance rates than other cars made the same year, while some cars become classic vehicles over time and require special insurance.

→ Learn more about insurance rates by car

Car insurance rates for teens

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, teenage driver crash rates are nearly four times higher than drivers over 20. 

Because teens are brand new drivers, and more likely to be in an at-fault accident or file a claim, insurance companies charge much higher rates for teenage drivers. But new drivers will usually find the best car insurance rate by joining an existing family policy instead of getting their own car insurance. 

Here are the cheapest companies for insuring a brand-new, 16-year-old driver on a family policy:

Company

Monthly rate with a new driver

Annual rate with a new driver

NJM

$190

$2,280

MAPFRE

$202

$2,424

USAA

$225

$2,700

GEICO

$231

$2,772

Auto-Owners Insurance

$242

$2,904

Nationwide

$258

$3,096

Farm Bureau

$267

$3,204

American Family

$280

$3,360

Country Financial

$287

$3,444

State Farm

$291

$3,492

→ Learn more about the best car insurance for 16-year-old drivers

What is a good first car for a teenager?

There is a reason most high school parking lots are filled with Toyota Corollas, Honda Civics, and Ford Fusions — small, reliable, affordable coupes and sedans are an excellent choice for a teenager. 

When choosing a car for a teenage driver, there are several factors you’ll want to consider, including:

  • Cost to insure: Insurance for teen drivers isn’t cheap, and a single accident or moving violation is enough to cause their car insurance costs to skyrocket. Choosing a car that is cheaper to insure can save you a lot of money on your car insurance.

  • Cost to repair or replace: Teenagers have higher insurance rates because they are more likely to be in an accident or file a claim than an adult. This means teens may have more car repairs and be more likely to total a car than their parents, so choosing a car that is cheap to repair or replace can help you save a significant amount of money over the years.

  • Safety features: Drivers of all ages benefit from having safety features, like lane departure warnings, tire pressure monitors, and electronic stability control, to help prevent accidents. 

  • Ease of use: Large trucks and SUVs can be difficult to handle on the road (and in the parking lot) so many parents choose to buy their teens a smaller car instead.

Frequently asked questions

How much should a 16-year-old spend on a car?

Generally speaking, parents are advised to spend no more than $10,000 on a car for a new driver. However, the right amount to spend on a car depends on your financial situation. Some people may not want to spend that much on a car for a teenager, but others may have a budget that allows them to spend more.

Do smaller cars have cheaper insurance?

Some smaller cars have cheaper insurance, but size isn’t the only factor that impacts your insurance rates. The cost to repair or replace a vehicle and the likelihood of a vehicle being stolen are also contributing factors to your insurance rates.

What is a reliable first car?

Several Toyota models, including the Prius, Sienna, RAV4, 4Runner, and Tundra, all make the Consumer Reports list of the most reliable cars on the market. Other cars that make the list are Kia Optima, Ford Expedition, and Hyundai Azera.

Methodology

Policygenius has analyzed car insurance rates provided by Quadrant Information Services for every ZIP code in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. 

For full coverage policies, the following coverage limits were used:

  • Bodily injury liability: 50/100

  • Property damage liability: $50,000

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist: 50/100

  • Comprehensive: $500 deductible

  • Collision: $500 deductible

In some cases, additional coverages were added where required by the state or insurer. For overall rates by company, our sample vehicle was a 2017 Toyota Camry LE driven 10,000 miles per year.

Author

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Rachael Brennan

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

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Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

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