Is a Small Car Like the Toyota Yaris the Most Dangerous to Insure?

According to a recent Yahoo! Autos article, it just might be…but for reasons that you may or may not be aware of.

It appears that many of these vehicles in this report would be classified as a small car, with a couple of notable exceptions, such as the Mitsubishi Galant (currently the worst car being sold today). The criteria for this article cited less-than-good ratings from the NHTSA, as well as the fact that whenever small vehicles are crash-tested, they are usually tested against a barrier and/or another immovable object of similar size. This type of testing is flawed, in the respect that accidents generally don’t occur between two vehicles of the same size/segment. As the laws of physics goes, the larger vehicle will generally win the collision battle.

On a personal note, I was fortunate that whenever I totalled my Kia Spectra, the other car was a Nissan Sentra, and not a smaller car. Conversely, I’m also thankful that the other car wasn’t bigger than mine, and hit me (I hit her on the side, because she ran a red light). Especially since she was travelling at a higher rate of speed than I was.

Anyways, this list is, not surprisingly, filled with vehicles that generally rank at or near the bottom in nearly every comparison test by the major automotive publications, such as Motor Trend. Most of these vehicles (especially the Galant) overall are not competitive, whether it pertains to such items as engine size/horsepower, transmissions, creature comforts, styling (although styling is subjective), resale value, or the number one thing that most consumers care about today…fuel economy. Still, some of these vehicles are no longer being produced, but nonetheless, they are still be driven and sold on the secondhand market.

Speaking of the list, here it is (in ascending order):

10. Chevrolet Aveo5 (they mistakenly referred to this as the Chevrolet Aveo wagon…apparently the author is not a car person): I actually love this car, despite its shortcomings. But still, it does not have a lot of redeeming qualities…

9. Nissan Sentra: another lackluster car that can’t even be as safe as its competitors. Actually, it doesn’t do anything exceptional well. It’s like a Nissan Galant.

8. Dodge Avenger: besides the aforementioned reasons why, they also said that the main reason for the high frequency of insurance claims (the basis of the rankings on this list) was that it had an 283 hp V6 engine. They go on to explain that having that much horsepower in a vehicle would entice a person to want to drive it as fast as possible. While this may be true in most cases, with the average Dodge Avenger owner…yeah, it’s because they purchased it because there was a lot of cash on the hood. Even with the powerful engine, that’s still not enough incentive to purchase this over its competitors. I could also say the same thing about the Toyota Corolla, sans a powerful engine. Toyota doesn’t know how to put those in their cars, apparently. Also, the Corolla “competes” with the Avenger, but like an argument over the internet, nobody wins this shootout. Even though it is a small car, it’s bigger than most of the ones on this list.

7. Hyundai Accent: now, the car that they had pictured was the last generation bodystyle, which was a fair representation of the old Hyundai. The new one is worlds better than the old one, but I still long for a three-door hatchback version. Never mind those pesky claims of not achieving the EPA estimated gas mileage. Remember folks, it’s just an estimate.

6. Nissan Versa: actually it’s tied with the Accent. I also love this car, and there are many redeeming qualities with this, except for the road noise coming from the tyres, which can become tiresome after a few minutes on a workday commute. Also, some of the ergonomics could be softer to the touch. Another glaring inaccuracy in this article stated that the Versa was one of the smallest cars in Nissan’s lineup. Although it (the last-generation saloon and current hatchback models) was marketed at the subcompacts like the Toyota Yaris, it actually is quite volumuous on the inside, which was continued on in the current-generation saloon. Smaller than the Sentra it is not, and it’s also killing it sales-wise in its class…actually, it’s the best seller in its class. A distinction that it took from none other than the Chevy Aveo.

5. Kia Rio: yet again, this article has an inaccurate statement. It states that it’s one of the smallest in Kia’s lineup…it actually is the smallest (and cheapest) car in Kia’s lineup. Surprisingly, it also states that it’s one of the cheapest cars to insure, which with its low starting price, certainly makes it appealing to would-be buyers. I do suspect that many potential buyers were turned off to previous generations due to the fact that it was a few steps behind its competition. As a new vehicle purchase, it didn’t make any sense…but as a secondhand purchase, it (like many cars) does.

4. Mitsubishi Galant: rubbish. This is why no one buys Mitsubishis…and it’s definitely not a small car. In fact, it’s the biggest one on the list.

3. Chevy Aveo (saloon): see the Chevy Aveo5. Americans prefer a saloon to a hatchback, so the frequency of the claims is why it’s higher on the list.

2. Suzuki SX4: great potential, and it’s a small car that offers all-wheel-drive, which is exclusive to its class. It’s a shame that it doesn’t offer anything else that would woo potential buyers…also, they wouldn’t know about any of them, since Suzuki apparently doesn’t have an advertising budget, coupled with a non-existent dealership network. Honestly, they should scrap the lineup and start all over again with the Samurai and Swift. Build from the bottom up.

So, for all of you math wizards out there, that’s precisely nine extremely mediocre vehicles (okay, maybe eight and one really horrendous one. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know which one I’m talking about). That leaves us with the winner of the worst vehicle to insure…

1. Toyota Yaris: it’s not so much a small car, as it is a (in the words of my boss whenever I was with Ford) “pregnant rollerskate”. How can anyone feel safe in a car that feels tinny? It’s bound to be punted down the road like a football. Apparently, many people agree with this article and yours truly, as it sits near the bottom of the sales charts.

So, whether or not the article has any bearing on your next vehicle purchase or not, it is at least something to consider. Also, disregard their inaccuracies as well. They have little to do with the actual car itself, as far as it being a good value. If you’re looking for a small car that does well, check out the Volkswagen Golf and the new Ford Focus. There’s a reason why they’ve imported them over from Europe.

And of course, stay far away from the Toyota Yaris, unless you’re into punishing yourself…


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