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SUV vs Sedan: Which Insurance Is Cheaper?

young woman sitting in the back of her SUV in the woods

If you are in the market for a new or new-to-you vehicle, you may be on the fence about whether to choose from the SUVs (sport utility vehicles) or sedans. There are many things to consider when deciding on a new ride, including which type of car has the lowest average costs for ownership and which has the lowest car insurance rates.

An SUV may cost more upfront than a sedan, but you’ll need to take into account a wide variety of factors, such as repair costs, gasoline or diesel costs, and other total ownership measurements. This includes car insurance. Do insurance companies charge less for the cheapest SUVs or are auto insurance premiums less for the cheapest sedan?

As always, there is more information to take into account. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), both small SUVs, such as the Honda CR-V, and midsized luxury SUVs, such as the Acura MBX, are among the safest in 2023. Insurance companies take this information into account when setting car insurance policy costs. It’s always a good idea to check out every significant factor before deciding that one or the other is cheaper.

Pros and Cons of Insuring an SUV

SUVs are considered safer than sedans, in most cases. Later models come with many safety features, which can have a major impact on insurance rates. On the other hand, a large SUV may use more gas than a small car. There are pros and cons to choosing an SUV.

Pros of Insuring an SUV

Since SUVs are larger vehicles, they are perceived as having an increased safety factor, in addition to more room for passengers. For many people, these are the main reasons to choose this type of vehicle as a family car.

Higher Safety Ratings

SUVs tend to get higher safety reasons for several reasons, including better handling in challenging weather conditions. They are bigger and heavier than most cars, so people view them as a better bet in the case of an accident. This is actually true since the latest data from the IIHS points to increased safety during an impact for people in SUVs over people in other vehicles.

Better Visibility for Drivers

By their very nature, SUVs provide a better vantage point for drivers. Because they sit up higher than sedans and have more ground clearance, a driver and their passengers can spot a possibly sticky situation in time to avert a crash, as well as make safer lane changes and avoid pedestrians.

Cons of Insuring an SUV

Some of the very factors that make SUVs attractive can also be their downfall. Because they are bigger than the cars around them, they can be hard to maneuver in congested traffic situations. They can be harder to park, although in recent years parking lots and garages have begun to make larger spaces for SUVs and pickup trucks. It would be a good idea to consider your normal driving and parking situation as part of your decision-making process.

Higher Sticker Price

Are SUVs more expensive than sedans? In most cases, the answer is yes when comparing apples to apples. For example, a basic Chevrolet SUV may be cheaper than a top-of-the-line Jaguar, but if you are looking at middle of the road SUVs and sedans, then the SUV is going to have a higher sticker price.

However, small SUVs and compact SUVs are considered to be a good deal when compared to their small sedan opposites as far as price and safety goes.

Risk of Rollovers

These vehicles have a higher center of gravity and are top heavy, which makes them easier to roll. Rollovers are responsible for a high number of vehicle fatalities, which is why seatbelts play such a crucial role no matter what type of vehicle you drive.

Higher Cost of Ownership

The latest SUVs are typically too complicated for the average person to consider maintaining or repairing at home, leading to high repair costs. The same could be said for many of today’s sedans. However, for the larger vehicle there are some additional factors to consider, including:

  • Fuel mileage: SUVs tend to get less mileage to the gallon than sedans due to larger engines and more.
  • Emissions: An SUV will leave a larger environmental footprint than a smaller vehicle. This can be dependent on whether you are buying new or used. An older Cadillac may consume as much fuel as a newer subcompact SUV.
  • Tires and brakes: The weight of an SUV can cause tires and brakes to wear out sooner – and they may be more expensive to replace.
Happy young woman exits a sedan

Pros and Cons of Insuring a Sedan

Whether owning a sedan is a positive for you or a negative is depending on your circumstances. A sedan will cost less, be more maneuverable in traffic,  give you better fuel economy, but give you less room for cargo and multi-passenger situations. However, it will be more challenging to drive if you find yourself on an unpaved road (in this instance, an SUV will win).

Pros of Insuring a Sedan

Sedans throughout time have run the gamut from painfully cheap vehicles with little thought to comfort levels all the way up to extremely high dollar and luxurious models. But regardless of whether your budget allows for the lower end sedans or not, you’ll still save money over an SUV.

Keep in mind that insurance costs vary widely between basic sedans and luxury sedans, as well as between sports cars and that cute little coupe.

Lower Sticker Price

First, in most cases, a sedan will cost less than an SUV. The cheapest sedan on the market, such as a Nissan Versa at around $15,800 is still $4,000 less than the cheapest SUV on the market this year, the Hyundai Venue at $19,500.

Lower Fuel Costs

Those who choose a sedan over an SUV will also enjoy lower monthly spending on fuel, they’ll be able to bask in the knowledge they are leaving a smaller footprint on the environment.

Easier to Maneuver and Park

For drivers who must face rush hour traffic and hard-to-find parking, the sedan is by far the more nimble and easier to drive and park than its larger cousin. Most people find the sedan is also more agile, due to being lighter. Depending on your choice of sedan, power-for-power the sedan will probably be faster than the SUV due to being lighter.

Cons of Insuring a Sedan

Many people think a larger vehicle is safer than a smaller one – and in some respects, that’s true. Due to its heavier build, an SUV can withstand some crashes better. You won’t be able to fit as much stuff or people in your sedan (is that necessarily a bad thing?), and if you need to drive on an unpaved, potholed road, your sedan may not be the best choice. And, if absolutely necessary, you could probably sleep fairly comfortably in your SUV, whereas sleeping in a sedan is guaranteed to make you feel places you never even knew you had on and in your body.

Lower Safety Ratings

According to the IIHS, people in an SUV may fare better during a wreck due to the heavier, larger size. But with all the safety features that either come standard or as add-ons, plus your driving habits, sedans can be as safe. Research your potential choices to make sure they don’t have poor safety ratings, which can impact your average rates.

Less Cargo and Passenger Space

The obvious disadvantage is less space. Less space for all the things you need on a road trip or a camping trip. Less space for the things you accumulate when you are carting children around. Less space for other people. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you are using your vehicle to get to and from work only, you are single or a couple with no children and you don’t want to use your car as a storage bin.

So, it’s all relative.

Repair Costs

As mentioned, most of today’s vehicles are too complex for the hobby mechanic. There are some basic maintenance tasks you can – and should – do yourself, if you are able. The better choice is to let a professional handle most repairs and some maintenance. Repair costs will be more expensive if there is a need for foreign parts or parts are more expensive, so shop accordingly.

Young Asian family with their SUV on family trip

Comparing Car Insurance Options for SUVs and Sedans

When you are talking about comparing auto insurance rates, it’s important to make sure you are comparing the same items across the board. In the case of SUV v sedan, ensure that you are including the same coverages, such as minimum liability only, full coverage or some combination of the two, plus other add-ons.

Liability Coverage

Liability insurance is the type of policy that almost every state requires at a minimum. It’s composed of bodily injury/death liability and property damage liability, in most cases. In at-fault states, it is considered third-party coverage, where the insurer of the at-fault driver helps to pay for the costs of the other parties. In a no-fault state, liability helps pay for your costs, regardless of who is at fault for the accident.

Collision Coverage

Collision is designed to help you pay for repairs (or replacement) of your vehicle in a collision, regardless of who is at fault.

Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive covers events that mostly happen when you are not necessarily behind the wheel. For example, hail damage, theft and more.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

Many no-fault states, and some at-fault, require drivers to carry personal injury protection as an added layer of financial help for costs associated with a wreck. This can include medical expenses, as well as child care and help around the home.

Full Coverage

Full coverage is generally understood to be a combination of liability, comprehensive and collision. No state requires full coverage, although if your vehicle is financed, you may be required by your lender to carry it.

Tips for Choosing the Right Insurance

The national average for car insurance is $1,771 annually for full coverage and $565 for the state-required minimum liability. However, every state has different requirements and factors that play a large part in costs. Some of these include:

  • Increased possibility of claims due to storms and wildfires
  • Number of uninsured and underinsured drivers
  • Higher than average personal injury lawsuits

When deciding what insurance is right for you, the first thing to do is find out what your state requires. From there, you can make decisions based on your personal peace of mind when behind the wheel and your budget.

Your Personal Factors

Keep in mind that auto insurance premiums are also based on a number of factors specific to you, including:

  • Driving record: Probably the most important factor on your policy cost is your driving history. Safer drivers get better rates.
  • Market value of vehicle: The higher the price to replace, the higher the premium.
  • Type of vehicle: Cars that have higher safety ratings, as well as cheap and easy to find parts will cost less to insure.
  • Age of the car: A new car comes with more advanced safety features, but an older car is cheaper to replace.
  • People on the policy: The ages of the drivers is important. Younger drivers, as well as older ones, will have higher costs.
  • Zip code: Exactly where you live, down to the zip code, plays a part since areas that have higher crime rates and accident claims will cost more.
  • Personal characteristics: Your personal stats will count, such as marital status (married couples get better rates than single folks), credit report (in most states, a poor credit record may end up costing on insurance, although in recent years that is falling out of favor), gender (males pay more) and others.

Your Policy

The way you structure your policy will also have a bearing on how much you pay. For example, a higher deductible will be cheaper than a low deductible. If you increase your coverage limits you can expect to pay a higher price. There are numerous discounts that most insurers offer to help you offset your cost.

  • Bundling: Letting the same insurer carry policies for a variety of your possessions, such as home insurance and auto insurance, can result in a great bonus.
  • Good Driver: If your driving history is free from claims for at least 3 -5 years, you may be able to receive a discount.
  • Safety Features: Features such as anti-lock brakes, anti-theft equipment and more can lead to a decrease in cost.

There are many more discounts available. Just ask your independent agent for a list.

Finding the Best Car Insurance for Your Needs

Whether SUVs, sedans or pickup trucks, every driver needs good insurance that protects them on the road at a price they can afford. At Freeway Insurance, we offer affordable options for everybody, even those with a less than perfect driving record. Give us a call at (800) 777-5620, come get a fast and free online quote or stop by one of our convenient locations.

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