Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz
Insuring style comes at a price. The 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG costs, on average, more than $3,500 a year to insure.
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updated 9/6/2011 7:27:52 AM ET 2011-09-06T11:27:52

When it comes to cheaper auto insurance, family-friendly four doors are usually your best bet. The humble though still popular Chrysler Town & Country is a sensible car that’s fairly cheap to insure. On the other hand, if imported luxury is your preferred mode of transportation, be prepared for hefty insurance premiums to go with all the trappings.

Knee-buckling beauties like the 12-cylinder Mercedes SL65 AMG can set you back a national average of $3,543.81 per year in insurance costs alone, making it the most expensive car in America to insure, according to data from Quadrant Information Services commissioned by Insure.com. Overall, European brands including Mercedes, Porsche, Aston Martin and BMW are the most expensive to safeguard.

“Repairing just one feature after a crash could cost a small fortune,” notes Insure.com of the well-stocked BMW 750i which can set you back about $3,280.70 in annual insurance fees.

Meanwhile, American and Japanese non-luxury minivans, SUVs and sedans make up the 10 least expensive cars to insure, according to Quadrant’s data. The top four cheapest cars to insure are minivans.

Forbes.com slideshow: The most and least expensive cars to insure

The four-door, six cylinder Chrysler Town & Country LX, for example, costs an national average of $1,091.80 per year to insure. The five-door, four-cylinder Toyota Sienna costs $1,100.66 per year to insure, and a similar Toyota Sienna LE costs about $1,107.70 to insure.

For comparison’s sake, Quadrant calculates average annual insurance premiums based on a single 40-year-old male driver with a clean driving record, good credit and who commutes 12 miles to work each day.

The premiums Quadrant comes up with include uninsured motorist coverage with policy limits of $100,000 for injury liability for one person, $300,000 for all injuries and $50,000 for property damage in an accident, plus a $500 deductible on collision and comprehensive coverage. Premium quotes come from six large insurance carriers: State Farm, Allstate, Progressive, GEICO, Farmers and Nationwide.

Of course, your own rates may vary based on your personal situation.

And insurance rates can be much higher in certain states. While one might expect that New York and California would top the list of states with the highest average auto insurance premiums, they don’t even make it to the top five.

Michigan, Louisiana and Oklahoma are the top three states with the most expensive average auto insurance premiums, according to Insure.com.

There are a couple of key reasons why Michigan holds the top spot in terms of costly car insurance according to Insure.com spokesman Emmet Pierce. “Michigan is the only state that guarantees unlimited personal injury protection payments to those who are injured in auto accidents,” plus the state includes assistance to help people with catastrophic injuries to pay for medical care, Pierce explains.

But brand and price aren’t necessarily the only factors that come into play when determining insurance premiums. Age and driving experience of owners are also a factor.

“An inexpensive car can be relatively costly to insure if it appeals to younger, less-experienced drivers who tend to get into more accidents,” says Pierce. For instance, a Kia Rio is definitely not considered a luxury car, but at $1,522, the annual insurance premiums aren’t much less than that of a Corvette two-door coupe which costs around $1,741 per year on average to insure.

According to Insure.com’s report, the popular Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla don’t make it to the list of cars that are the least costly to insure. This is largely because they tend to be entry-level vehicles popular among younger drivers who may be more likely to take risks or be distracted by their passengers.

Cars on the list of most commonly-stolen vehicles in the country according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau can also be more expensive to insure than those that aren’t on the list. Those particular cars actually tend to be older models that aren’t equipped with the sophisticated anti-theft and tracking devices that newer vehicles have.

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