Archive for November, 2010

Searching for the new classics

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Words like "innovative" and "groundbreaking" get thrown around a lot by marketers and auto reviewers alike, but there's another word that's reserved only for the upper echelon of the automotive world. Classic.

Not every used car is worthy of the distinction. A true classic is a vehicle that stands the test of time, that becomes iconic and unforgettable. Predicting a classic is nigh-impossible – car companies have been trying their best for years to introduce models that will stick in the public's memory for years to come.

Still, it's fun to try. Every year, the folks at Hagerty Auto Insurance, which specializes in collector cars, release their "hot list" of 10 cars that could eventually go on to have increased value in the collector market. Drivers who can successfully predict which cars will eventually become collector's items won't only be getting a great car, but they'll also likely be making themselves quite a bit of dough if the car shoots up in value in the next few decades.

"We have fun each year looking at which new vehicles embody the characteristics of collector cars, to help predict which ones might have classic appeal in 15 to 20 years," CEO McKeel Hagerty said in a statement. "The Hot List is our prediction for which cars manufactured this year will hold their value and consumer appeal long enough to one day be regarded as collectible."

Since the list is annual, all the cars mentioned are from the 2011 model year. The list was submitted to Wired, which chimed in with some thoughts and comments of their own on the vehicles chosen.

The Chevrolet Camaro is already thought of many to be a classic car, but most people are referring to the older versions from the 1970s. According to the list, Chevy has finally made a Camaro worthy of the "classic" title. The SS Convertible is a Camaro for the modern age, with a V8 engine producing 428 horsepower – a figure that will blow the doors off of the old Camaros.

In that same vein is the Ford Mustang Boss 302R. The Mustang has a long history, but the Boss 302R has quickly established itself as one of the rarest versions of the car available, with Ford producing just 50. The car is a track-ready racing vehicle, but those who are looking for a regular highway car can't go wrong with the regular Mustang Boss, which is available in less-limited quantities.

The tuning community has elevated a few cars to classic status, as some vehicles are simply more cooperative with modifications and additions. This year, BMW released its own factory version of the 335i that took a number of cues from popular tuner modifications made on previous versions of the 3-Series. The V6 engine is turbocharged for 320 horsepower, a tweaked suspension improves handling and the company even modified the body to make it appear slightly different from the rest of the fleet. No adjustments necessary – the 335i could be well on its way to classic status.

Finally, there's always a car that flies under the radar before becoming popular in its later years. The Infiniti IPL G37 Coupe could be that car. The model is the first produced by the "IPL" high-performance division of Infiniti, which already gives it a claim to history. If IPL goes on to produce some top cars, people will be able to look back at the G37 and point to where it all began. 

GM hires more electrical engineers

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

General Motors' Chevrolet Volt has already been a success for the company, with the innovative electric vehicle snagging several "Car of the Year" awards for the company. In order to follow up on that success, GM has announced that it will hire nearly 1,000 electric vehicle engineers for its plant in Michigan.

The new hires will represent a 50 percent increase in the number of engineers with a specialty in electric technology for the company. Early pre-order numbers for the Volt have been high, and the company has increased production totals to 45,000 vehicles for 2012. The new hires could also possibly indicate more electric cars on the way for the company.

"GM is going to lead the industry in the adoption of various vehicle-electrification technologies," CEO Dan Akerson said in a statement. "We want to give our customers energy choices other than petroleum and to make the automobile part of the solution when it comes to the environment."

Early adopters who want to get in on the electric trend may want to wait for the first used Chevrolet Volts to begin hitting the market, as they'll most likely be able to save substantially off of the possibly inflated introductory price for the vehicle. 

Two free pairs of jeans with every Focus

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Ford has announced that it will be providing two free pairs of jeans with every 2012 Ford Focus that is sold. They just won't quite be usable.

The automaker has announced that it will be using a mixture of recycled clothing, mainly denim, in constructing the floor mats and carpet backing in the new version of the Focus. The company says that using the material will help the company reduce material usage and lessen its impact on the environment.

"Ford is continually looking for greener alternatives," said Carrie Majeske, product sustainability manager. "One of our key goals is to use more recycled or renewable materials without compromising performance or durability. Recycled content is a way to divert waste from landfills and reduce the impact of mining virgin material."

The material will include mixes of other cotton-based clothing, in addition to denim. Ford says that the amount of denim used will be equivalent to about two pairs of blue jeans.

The Focus is quickly shaping up to be an eco-friendly option. The company previously announced that it's aiming to achieve more than 40 miles per gallon in the new vehicle.

When a new model is introduced, the previous version usually sees a drop in price. Those who shop for a used Ford Focus once the new one arrives may be able to find a great bargain.
 

New technology may reduce fuel consumption

Monday, November 29th, 2010

One of the big appeals of electric vehicles is the complete elimination of harmful emissions. Yet new technology may mean that emissions will be hanging around for awhile.

IndustryWeek reports that General Motors and Purdue are working on new technology that would allow vehicles to convert emissions into electricity, allowing for increased fuel economy. The device uses a special metal that absorbs heat from the emissions on one side while remaining cool on the other. The massive difference in temperature creates an electric current that can then be used by the engine.

The new material is called skutterudite, and is made up of common metals like nickel and cobalt along with rarer elements like lanthanum, caesium and neodymium.

Researches say that as it stands now, the technology could reduce fuel consumption by five percent. With enough advances in technology, that figure could possibly rise to 10 percent.

Cars aren't the only application for the new technology. The innovation could potentially be used in any application in which heat is wasted, such as home heating and manufacturing facilities.

The research was made possible thanks to a $1.4 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy. 

Audi may offer retail race car

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Nearly all manufacturers have race-ready versions of their vehicles for use on tracks all around the world. More often than not, these are unique vehicles that aren't available for purchase by the general public.

According to recent reports, Audi may be looking to change that trend. The company recently unveiled the TT GT4, a concept car that will reportedly be available to racing teams in the near future. Automobile Magazine, however, reports that "all the info we've seen points to a green light for production," with a rumored release date of 2012 and price tag of $160,000. There's no word on if the concept will be available in North America, but it would immediately become the highest-performing Audi available.

The GT4 is loosely based off of Audi's TT RS, which was recently greenlighted for the U.S. after fans of Audi's Facebook page requested it. However, the vehicle will be heavily modified for serious racing under track conditions, with a full cage, plastic windows and a carbon-fiber body. It will produce approximately 340 horsepower.

If released, the GT4 will be a highly-specialized vehicle for racers who want a track-ready model direct from the factory. For those who want performance without the high price tag, a used Audi might be a more affordable option.

Kelley Blue Book reveals cars with the best resale value

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

When buying a new or used vehicle, owners must factor the model's resale value into consideration. Most drivers don't aim to run their car into the ground until it can't function anymore, instead opting to trade in their vehicle when it's time for a new purchase.

That's why resale value is so important. According to Kelley Blue Book (KBB), a pricing guide for used cars, a $25,000 car with great resale value will actually save a driver money over a $20,000 model with poor resale value, given a 3-year ownership period.

KBB recently named its 2011 Best Resale Value Awards, a yearly distinction given to the models and brands that are expected to hold their value for the longest amount of time. The company named the top 10 vehicles as well as some winners within their segment.

Despite the appearance of perennial best-sellers like Toyota and Honda on KBB's list, the consumer guide went in a different direction in naming the brand of the year. With a massive improvement over years past, Subaru took home the title as the brand with the best resale value. The guide noted that buyers are beginning to take notice of the company's recent efforts to improve its vehicles.

The luxury brand of the year was BMW, with both the BMW X5 and X6 luxury crossovers singled out on the top 10 list as being especially valuable. BMW vehicles tend to have the latest technology and timeless styling, and always command a high price tag simply due to the prestige associated with the name.

Yet BMW was unable to take home the title for luxury car with the best resale value. That went to the Audi A5, which KBB described as having "perfect form." The A5 was the only entry for Audi, although Volkswagen, which owns the German luxury brand, was honored as the best alternative energy car for its Golf TDI Hybrid.

Overcoming its safety-related issues from earlier this year, Toyota was able to post two vehicles in the top 10 in addition to two more from the Lexus nameplate. The FJ Cruiser off-road SUV and Tacoma pickup were honored for the main brand, while the RX and GX SUVs were named for Lexus. The Toyota Sienna, while not named one of the top 10 vehicles, was named the best minivan.

Ford didn't have a vehicle on the overall list, but was able to come out on top in two segments. The best-selling F-Series pickup truck was singled out in the full-size pickup class, while the Mustang was picked as the high-performance car with the best resale value.

Finally, it wouldn't be a discussion of resale value without a mention of Honda. The Japanese automaker just had one car on the best overall list in the form of the new CR-V, but the Accord and Fit won the mid-size and subcompact segments, respectively.
 

Infiniti M35h to get warning system

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

The new Infiniti M35h hybrid will receive a new warning system that will alert pedestrians to its approach, as some safety officials have expressed concern over their virtually silent electric motors.

Although not mandated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Nissan has elected to put a noisemaking system on the new M35h in order to keep pedestrians safe in city settings. The automaker originally developed the Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians (VSP) system for use in the all-electric Nissan Leaf.

The VSP system will work between 0 and 20 miles per hour and automatically detect when a pedestrian enters the car's path, emitting a distinctive noise. The sound cuts out once the driver brakes to under 15 miles per hour.

The Detroit Free Press notes that the new feature is as much a marketing opportunity for Infiniti and Nissan as it is a safeguard against pedestrian accidents. The new model was recently unveiled at the LA Auto Show, and the automaker is already advertising the quiet engine on both the M35h and Leaf as a selling point for the vehicles.

Drivers who are interested in purchasing a hybrid or electric vehicle might want to wait until they hit the used car market, where they'll likely be relatively more affordable than when bought new.
 

Judge allows Toyota lawsuits to move forward

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

A federal judge has ruled that lawsuits filed against Toyota for the manufacturer's unintended acceleration issues can move forward based on the fact that the drivers' vehicles may have lost value due to the flaws.

Toyota's once-sterling reputation has taken a plunge after it was forced to recall more than 10 million vehicles in the past year for a variety of safety issues, the most visible of which was a sudden acceleration defect that affected numerous used Toyotas. Multiple families of car accident victims and other drivers seeking compensation have filed numerous lawsuits against the automaker, which were combined into one case heard by U.S. District Judge James Selna in California.

The Associated Press reports that lawyers for Toyota asked the judge to throw out many of the suits for a variety of reasons. Some drivers were not actually involved in accidents and simply claimed that their vehicle lost value thanks to the issue. Others cited the vehicles' electronic control feature, which Toyota says cannot be conclusively linked to the defect.

Yet Selna has ruled that the suits may continue, which could have far-reaching consequences for the automaker. Lawyer Cari Dawson told the news source that Selna's decision could "open the floodgates" to further litigation against Toyota, since theoretically every person who owns a Toyota could file a suit.

Hyundai’s new Elantra impresses at LA Auto Show

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Hyundai has been on a tear as of late, enjoying increased sales on the back of its new flagship Sonata, which has become a top-seller for the company. If the recent L.A. Auto Show is any indication, it doesn't look like Hyundai's hot streak will be stopping anytime soon.

The South Korean automaker unveiled a revamped version of its Elantra compact at the auto show, a compact car meant to compliment the Sonata and compete with cars like the Chevy Cruze and Ford Focus. The initial reception for the new car has been enthusiastic, with respected sources like Consumer Reports, Motor Trend and Automobile Magazine all giving early positive reviews.

One of the things that nearly all are mentioning is the car's size for its price. Though priced as a compact car at around $15,000, Hyundai says that the car actually qualifies a midsize vehicle with the EPA due to its roominess. Yet it still enjoys the benefits of small cars, with Hyundai claiming 40 miles per gallon the highway for the car.

Drivers interested in the brand may want to shop for a used Hyundai, as they'll likely be a bit more affordable once the new models roll in.

Nissan Leaf: 99 MPG, 73 miles per charge

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

The EPA ratings for the highly-anticipated Nissan Leaf have been released, with the government rating the car at 99 miles per gallon overall and 73 miles per charge.

The high ratings in both city (106 mpg) and highway (92 mpg) are big wins for Nissan, who will obviously tout the car's fuel economy when marketing it. The EPA has actually come up with a formula to convert electricity to gas ratings in determining the Leaf's efficiency, as the purely-electric vehicle has no gas tank. What the rating essentially means is that the car uses fuel at the same rate that a gas-powered vehicle rated that highly would.

Yet it's not all celebration for Nissan, as the 73 miles per charge average may be a bit disappointing, considering Nissan originally claimed that the Leaf would be able to travel 100 miles on a charge.

Nissan's North American product planning director Mark Perry defended the claim in an interview with ABC News, saying that the company has been straightforward about the numerous variables that go into mileage.

"As we've said all along, your range varies on driving conditions, temperature, terrain and we've talked about, very openly, this idea of a range of ranges," he said.

Drivers interested in an electric vehicle may wish to wait until they begin to hit the used car market, where they might be found for a discount.

Shopping for value in the SUV market

Friday, November 19th, 2010

There's no question that buying an SUV can be pricey, and even when shopping the used car market for discounted vehicles, buyers will likely be spending more than they would on a sedan or hatchback. That's why it's important to get all the features and performance possible out of an SUV at a reasonable price.

MSN Autos recently took a look at some of the top SUVs available on the market that can deliver great value without breaking the bank.

The Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V are two entry-level SUVs that have sold well for their respective companies over their lifespan. While the news source claims that both offer buyers good value, the RAV4 is a bit more flexible, allowing drivers the option to upgrade from a four-cylinder engine to a six-cylinder while the CR-V is four-cylinder only.

Ford had two entries on the list, but both models are aimed at very different segments of SUV buyers. The Ford Flex offers exactly what it's name implies: flexibility. This model is big enough for families to be seated comfortably, but also offers a more practical fuel economy rating and aggressive styling than more traditional SUVs. Meanwhile, the Ford Expedition is what many consider to be "traditional." Offering a ton of roominess, cargo and storage capacity, plus the ability to be outfitted for off-roading, the Expedition is a classic SUV that helped kick off the big car trend several years ago.

Chevrolet was also well-represented on the list, with the Equinox, Traverse and Tahoe all making the cut. The news source cited the Equinox's roominess and size as a major factor in the recommendation, noting that it offers near-midsize level space at a compact price. The Chevy Traverse is aimed at larger families, with seating for eight and a range of optional electronics upgrades that can make long hauls a bit easier. The Traverse is closely related to the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia, which the news source also recommends. Yet the Tahoe may be the ultimate vacation vehicle, with class-leading fuel economy and enough towing capacity to haul a boat or trailer. Available upgrades can also bring the Tahoe close
to many luxury SUVs.

There's no shortage of options for buyers seeking value in the SUV market. Those who shop the used car lots can likely find a few of these highly-praised models for even further reduced prices.
 

Best cars for older drivers

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that the number of drivers 65 years and older will more than double in the next 40 years. That means that U.S. roads may be facing a safety crisis in the future, as older drivers tend to cause higher accident rates than others.

As a driver matures, their vehicle needs become different as well. It's unlikely that older drivers will be opting for a sports car, for example. According to Consumer Reports, there are a number of vehicle features that may be beneficial to older drivers looking to purchase a vehicle that may help them be safe on the road.

One of the considerations cited by the news source is ease of access. A vehicle for older drivers needs to have a number of seat configurations and ways to enter the vehicle that will make comfort a priority. A full-size SUV or pickup truck simply isn't practical for drivers with back problems, for example. Power seats are also preferable to those with a manual system, as they can be adjusted at the touch of a button.

Safety is another top priority that older drivers should consider, especially if they'll be traveling with grandkids or other family members. The vehicles chosen by the news source all have average or better reliability and perform well in government and insurance company crash tests.

Vehicles with full airbags, including side curtain, can greatly increase the protection afforded in case of a crash. The news source also notes that electronic stability control (ESC) is a must for any driver, but thankfully all vehicles made after 2012 will have this feature. Those buying a used car should be sure that their model is equipped with ESC.

Finally, one of the most important yet overlooked aspects of cars for elderly drivers is vision. Some vehicles contain numerous blind spots or even issues with the visor angle that can increase glare. In addition, the news source specified looking for a vehicle with a larger instrument panel that is easy to read.

In terms of cars that fit these requirements, the news source recommended the Hyundai Azera, Kia Rondo, Subaru Forester, and Honda's Accord sedan and Odyssey minivan.

Drivers interested in purchasing one of these vehicles may want to shop the used car market, where they can likely find them for less than new car dealerships.
 

Mercedes unveils CLS 63 AMG, announces partnership with Ducati

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

It was a big day for Mercedes-Benz as the German luxury automaker showed off the 2012 CLS 63 AMG while simultaneously announcing a partnership with Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati.

Described as a "four-door coupe," the CLS 63 AMG is Mercedes' entry in a growing market of four-door high-performance luxury vehicles that includes the Maserati Quattroporte, Aston Martin Rapide and Porsche Panamera. The new version of the vehicle produces 518 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque in the standard edition.

Mercedes is also touting an AMG-developed package that boosts the performance even further, using turbochargers to squeeze out 550 horsepower, 590 lb-ft or torque and a 0-60 time of 4.3 seconds.

The automaker also announced a new partnership with Ducati. The two companies will co-sponsor events and marketing campaigns that will take advantage of both brands' emphasis on speed and performance. Ducati was on hand at the event to reveal its new Diavel, a sport bike aimed at racing enthusiasts.

"Both companies share the same values: racing as the driving passion, and high performance plus exclusivity as the central brand messages of both AMG and Ducati," Mercedes CEO Ola Kallenius told USA Today.

Those interested in a luxury vehicle may want to shop for used Mercedes at their local dealer, as the models are typically expensive when bought ne

Top models of the American car revival

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

With all three Detroit automakers on the verge of bankruptcy, the American car market needed an injection of innovation – and government assistance – to stay afloat. But with Ford avoiding a bailout, General Motors prepping to go public again and Chrysler now under the control of Fiat, it appears the fortunes of American-made vehicles are slowly turning around.

MSN Autos recently looked at some of the models that have helped the brands reinvent themselves in the past few years. For drivers interested in purchasing a vehicle, buying American can be an important consideration. Given the latest lineups of cars for sale offered by the Detroit Three, these buyers finally have some attractive options that can compete with foreign models.

Most agree that Ford's turnaround has been the most impressive. The automaker was the only one of the American companies to avoid a government bailout, shifting its focus to smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles. That said, new editions of classics like the Mustang and F-150 have ensured that the brand's legacy has safely transitioned to the modern era.

The news source highlighted the Ford Fiesta and Fusion as two models representative of the culture shift in Detroit. Rather than focus on big engines, the Fiesta subcompact and Fusion hybrid are the types of cars previously favored by Europe and Japan. Yet with each boasting more than 40 miles per gallon and stylish looks, the models have become winners at home as well.

General Motors has also been successful in its comeback, with its upcoming IPO beginning the process of ending control by the U.S. Treasury Department. The upcoming Chevy Volt will be one of the first electric vehicles in the country and was recently named Motor Trend's Car of the Year.

Yet the Volt isn't the only news at GM. The Cadillac brand has undergone a renaissance as well and looks to be challenging luxury automakers with the new CTS Coupe. GM has also partially reinvented the Buick nameplate with new models like the Enclave, LaCrosse and Regal Turbo that has led to a 60 percent sales increase for the brand, according to the news source.

Chrysler is often considered to be lagging behind its two rivals, and in many respects that's true. But hope is not lost for this classic brand, which is now under the control of the Italian automaker Fiat. The Jeep Grand Cherokee underwent a successful redesign this year, while the Ram brand has continued to sell well-made pickup trucks.

The Chrysler brand itself hasn't had many things to cheer about, but the 300, introduced in 2005, has been a success for the brand. This version of the 300 inspired the Dodge Charger and Challenger reboots as well. With a new 300 equipped with the powerful Pentastar V6 engine slated for showrooms in 2011, Chrysler will hope to duplicate that success, and with several other new models planned over the next year, including a redesigned Sebring dubbed the 200, it appears Chrysler is on the right track.

These acclaimed models may be a bit pricey now, so drivers interested in buying American may want to wait until they hit the used car market to take advantage of savings. 

Chevy Volt wins two Car of the Year awards

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

The much-hyped and debated Chevrolet Volt has picked up two Car of the Year awards from separate publications.

Both Motor Trend and Automobile Magazine named the Volt the Car of the Year among 2011 models. The first all-electric vehicle from General Motors has already received considerable praise – and criticism – ahead of its release later this year. It has already been named to the shortlist for several Car of the Year awards from various publications, but several other sources have also alleged that the car doesn't actually drive off electric power at all times as GM claims it does.

Still, Motor Trend praised the vehicle for the new technology that allows it to automatically shift between pure EV and hybrid modes depending on which is most efficient.

Automobile Magazine associate editor Eric Tingwall said that the Volt was "genuinely an all-new car, in the most simplistic sense as well as in the greater notion that the Volt is unlike any vehicle we have ever driven."

The Volt is still in the running for the North American Car of the Year, which compiles opinions from a variety of automotive journalists. Other nominees include the Ford Fiesta, Nissan Juke and Hyundai Sonata.

Buyers interested in electric vehicle technology may want to wait until they hit the used car market, as the initial models are expected to be priced at more than $30,000 dollars.
 

Ford announces Focus Electric cities

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Ford is preparing for the late 2011 launch of its first all-electric passenger car, the Focus Electric. The automaker recently announced the first cities that will be receiving the vehicle as part of it's phased roll-out strategy.

The new Focus will hit dealerships in early 2011, with the electric version to follow later that year. The initial cities for the launch were chosen based on hybrid purchasing patterns, local commitment to electric vehicles, and number of residents, among other factors.

In a statement, the company named Atlanta, Houston, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Orlando, Phoenix, Tucson, Portland, Raleigh-Durham, Richmond, Seattle and Washington, D.C. as the starter cities.

"This is the first step in rolling out the Focus Electric," Mark Fields, Ford’s President of the Americas said in a statement. "As the country continues to build up its electric vehicle infrastructure and demand for the Focus Electric grows, Ford will continue to evaluate additional markets."

Electric vehicle enthusiasts may want to wait until a few models hit the used car market, as the cars are typically expensive at launch.

Ford, Nissan among top three in taxi design contest

Monday, November 15th, 2010

New York City's fleet of used Ford Crown Victorias functioning as taxicabs is set to be phased out once Ford ceases production of the iconic car, so the city is holding a contest to standardize the taxi used across the city.

City hall recently unveiled the finalists in the contest and all three are van-like in design. Ford, Nissan and Turkish automotive company Karsan each submitted proposals that are roomier than the traditional sedans currently used by drivers, instead looking more like London's taxis.

Ford submitted a version of its Transit Connect van, which is also available as a commercial vehicle. Nissan's entry is a modified NV200, a van that is sold in Japan and Europe. Karsan, largely unknown in the U.S., designed a van that is similar to the other automakers but features more expansive windows.

"Each is promising, but none is perfect," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said of the designs. "We are not obliged to go with anything if it does not meet our needs."

The winner will be announced in early 2011, with city officials saying it will be four years before the entire city makes the switch. The Bloomberg administration is currently soliciting input from citizens as well as attempting to negotiate its own list of features with the automakers. 

Which models come with low insurance premiums?

Friday, November 12th, 2010

For drivers considering a new or used vehicle purchase, price is an important consideration. However, many drivers fail to factor in what a vehicle could potentially cost them in terms of insurance prices. Anyone who has purchased a sports car will likely testify to the fact that coverage is typically more expensive for higher priced vehicles.

InsWeb, a company that provides insurance quotes from a variety of sources, recently released its list of the most and least expensive models to insure for the 2010 model year. The company compared actual quotes provided to customers over a nine-month period between January and September of 2010. The list was limited to vehicles under $80,000, with the conceit that high-end luxury vehicles or supercars would be among the priciest vehicles to insure.

Yet the rates quoted to drivers don't always correspond to the price of the vehicle. This is often a starting point – a pricier vehicle contains more expensive equipment to be replaced – but it is by no means reflective of the final figure. In fact, "loss history" plays a much greater role in determining insurance premiums.

Loss history is essentially the rate of accidents and damage suffered by a model throughout its history. While this reflects the model, the type of driver also comes into play. Muscle cars like the Ford Mustang or Chevy Camaro can be expensive, but so can top-of-the-line pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans. The difference is that the Mustang is much more likely to be driven by an aggressive driver who likes to go fast, leading to a higher accident rate.

The most expensive vehicle to insure was the Acura ZDX, according to the company. That model was closely followed by the Audi TT, Audi A5, Cadillac Escalade and Chevy Corvette. Other popular models making the high-priced insurance list include the BMW Z4, Mitsubishi Lancer, Nissan 370z and the afoermentioned Mustang and Camaro.

On the other hand, the Kia Sedona minivan was named the least expensive car, with the Mazda5, Ford Escape, Hyundai Santa Fe and Mercury Mariner rounding out the top 5. The Ford Explorer, Toyota Tacoma and Honda Element were among the other models cited for their cheap insurance rates.

"It's no coincidence that the majority of the most expensive vehicles to insure are performance vehicles," said Brad Cooper, Senior Vice President of Operations at InsWeb. "It’s very possible that the types of drivers that purchase these vehicles are more aggressive by nature, which could lead to a higher likelihood of claims on these vehicles. On the other end of the spectrum, most of the vehicles on the least expensive to insure list are minivans, wagons and small SUVs. Those vehicle types are often preferred by individuals with families—perhaps the least likely drivers to engage in risky driving behavior."

Buyers interested in purchasing a vehicle should consider the affect that their purchase could have on their insurance. Those interested in a high-performance car should probably not call off their purchase, but may want to shop the used car market in order to get the best deal and save money.