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Insuring 2015's cheapest cars

All photos courtesy of vehicle manufacturers

Buy one of 2015's lowest-priced cars and you'll not only save a bundle at the showroom, but you may pay lower car insurance rates.

That's according to a new analysis by Insure.com, which looked at costs for full coverage on more than 1,500 models. Insuring one of this year's 10 least expensive models means a savings of 14 to 24 percent over the average annual insurance bill for 2015 vehicles, which stands at $1,555.

"These are all inexpensive cars that are typically bought by people that need 'high-value' transportation. So, anything they can save -- even $100 a year on insurance -- can be important," says Scott Oldham of car-shopping site Edmunds.com.

Oldham says inexpensive cars generally have smaller insurance premiums because they cost less to repair or replace following accidents.

Kelsey Mays of Cars.com adds that small models typically have such low residual values after a few years that savvy owners can simply drop comprehensive coverage and pay for things like fender-benders out of pocket.

"You can easily self-insure (for vehicle damage) and just have liability coverage," he says. "That's often not the case with bigger cars."

Cheaper, yes, but cheapest? No

Surprisingly, Insure.com found that only one of 2015's lowest-priced cars also made the list of 2015's least expensive models to insure. That list is otherwise stacked with small crossovers and minivans.

"The typical SUV or minivan driver is older and more careful, and fewer claims mean lower rates," says Robert Beaupre, managing editor of Insure.com. "It's not just your driving record that matters. It's the driving record of everyone who insures that model."

Read on to see how much the lowest-priced 2015 models cost to insure, starting with the 10th least-expensive -- as well as what you'll pay to cover one model that costs a little more but boasts lower rates than any car on this list.

Some notes on the figures that follow:

  • All insurance prices refer to the U.S. average that an unmarried 40-year-old male can expect to pay for coverage if he commutes 12 miles to work each weekday, has a clean driving record and good credit. The coverage in these examples is for a "100/300/50" policy ($100,000 injury liability for one person, $300,000 for all injuries and $50,000 per accident for property damage), plus collision and comprehensive coverage with $500 deductibles.
  • Unless otherwise noted, vehicle price figures refer to manufacturer's suggested retail pricing for each 2015's entry-level, manual-transmission version (excluding delivery fees).

2015 Kia Soul10. Kia Soul 

MSRP: $15,190

Five-year estimated insurance cost: $6,100

The boxy Kia Soul costs $1,220 a year to insure -- and Oldham says it's a great car to boot. "The Soul is a very nice vehicle," he says.

The crossover combines a modest price with lots of millennial-friendly features, from standard iPod connectivity to optional streaming Internet radio.

That said, the base Soul's 130-horsepower engine offers a so-so 24 mpg fuel efficiency rating in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

Over a typical five-year loan, you'd pay $6,100 to insure the Kia -- compared with $7,775 for the average new 2015 model.


2015 Toyota Yaris9. Toyota Yaris hatchback

MSRP: $14,845

Five-year estimated insurance cost: $6,820

Expect to pay $1,364 annually to cover an entry-level Toyota Yaris hatchback.

The base model also offers a fuel-sipping 30 mpg/city and 37 mpg/highway, thanks to its modest 106-horsepower engine.

"The Yaris isn't really a standout in its class, but it does provide reliable, fuel-efficient transportation," Oldham says.


2015 Hyundai Accent8. Hyundai Accent sedan

MSRP: $14,745

Five-year estimated insurance cost: $6,760

Covering the small Hyundai will cost you $1,352 a year, but Oldham says the relatively roomy model offers "a lot of car for the money."

Base editions feature a number of impressive amenities, from satellite radio to Hyundai's industry-leading 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. The 137-horsepower engine also offers a decent 27 mpg/city and 38 mpg/highway.


2015 Ford Fiesta7. Ford Fiesta sedan

MSRP: $14,455

Five-year estimated insurance cost: $6,375

The Ford Fiesta subcompact costs $1,275 a year to insure and comes with some upscale amenities, from voice-activated controls to a six-speaker sound system. Entry-level Fiestas also have a 120-horsepower engine that gets a respectable 28 mpg/city and 36 mpg/highway.

"The Ford Fiesta has unique styling, a bit of a sporty nature -- and it's fun to drive," Oldham says.


2015 Chevrolet Sonic6. Chevrolet Sonic sedan

MSRP: $14,245

Five-year estimated insurance cost: $6,370

Entry-level versions of the Chevrolet Sonic costs $1,274 a year to insure and also come with 4G LTE WiFi and other impressive features.

"The Sonic is a high-quality vehicle," Oldham says.

On the downside, the model's 138-horsepower engine offers only 26 mpg/city and 35 mpg/highway.


2015 Kia Rio5. Kia Rio

MSRP: $13,990

Five-year estimated insurance cost: $6,615 (hatchback)

The Kia Rio gives a choice: sedan or hatchback for the same price. There's a small difference in insurance rates though. You'll spend $1,347 a year insuring the sedan version or $1,323 covering the hatchback. The base Rio's 138-horsepower engine also comes in at a reasonable 27 mpg/city and 37 mpg/highway.

"The Rio is a very attractive car," Oldham says.


2015 Smart Fortwo4. Smart Fortwo

MSRP: $13,270

Five-year estimated insurance cost: $5,930

A Fortwo is perfect for you if you like to save money, because insuring one will run you only $1,186 annually.

That makes the Fortwo the only 2015 model sold in America to make both the lowest-MSRP and lowest-premiums list.

On the downside, base Fortwos combine scant interior space with amenities so spartan that even cruise control costs extra.

While the model's 70-horsepower engine and automatic transmission (technically an "automated manual") produce a solid 34 mpg/city and 38 mpg/highway, Oldham says the car doesn't offer a particularly good ride.

"The Fortwo is neither the most practical vehicle nor the best-driving option among low-priced cars," he says.


2015 Mitsubishi Mirage3. Mitsubishi Mirage

MSRP: $12,995

Five-year estimated insurance cost: $6,325

Entry-level versions of the smallest Mitsubishi cost $1,265 a year to insure and also come with some features rare for bargain 2015s, from power windows to a rear spoiler. The Mirage's 74-horsepower engine also gets an impressive 34 mpg/city and 42 mpg/highway.

Still, Edmunds gives the car a rare "D" grade for overall value. "We just don't quite like the way it drives," Oldham says.


2015 Chevrolet Spark2. Chevrolet Spark

MSRP: $12,270

Five-year estimated insurance cost: $6,030

The Chevrolet Spark - even smaller than its big brother, the Sonic - costs $1,206 to insure annually, and the Spark's 84-horsepower engine offers good fuel efficiency at 31 mpg/city and 39 mpg/highway. The small hatchback also comes standard with some impressive amenities for its price, like four doors instead of two.

"The Spark is a high-value vehicle," Oldham says.


2015 Nissan Versa1. Nissan Versa sedan

MSRP: $11,990

Five-year estimated insurance cost: $6,555

The Versa - the U.S. market's lowest-priced 2015 model - costs $1,311 annually to insure.

The subcompact Versa also offers an impressive amount of interior space, while the model's 109-horsepower engine produces 27 mpg/city and 36 mpg/highway.

"The Versa is a good overall package," Oldham says.


2015 Jeep PatriotOne more to consider: Jeep Patriot

MSRP: $16,895

Five-year estimated insurance cost: $5,680

The Jeep Patriot costs about $5,000 more than a Nissan Versa but runs $175 less per year to insure. Buy one of these small crossovers and you'll spend just $1,136 annually for coverage.

Patriots also provide some 20 percent more space than Versas do, as well as 158 horsepower (49 more than what the Nissan offers).

While an entry-level Patriot only offers a fair 23 mpg/city and 30 mpg/highway, Oldham says the model "shows why you should always look into insurance costs with any vehicle in any class. The more-expensive vehicle might be less expensive to insure."


Beyond the bottom line

You probably shopped at more than one car dealership when you bought your last new ride.

While the vehicle model is one factor in how much you pay in premiums, there are numerous others, and not all carriers weigh them the same way when calculating rates. The cost differences between companies over the life of a car can be hundreds -- or even thousands -- of dollars.

Getting a few car insurance quotes can help ensure you don't overpay for coverage on your new vehicle. After all, it makes no sense to choose one of today's least expensive cars only to blow your savings on costly premiums.

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