Every automaker knows to varying degrees, safety sells. But there comes a point where the automaker can only do so much. After that, it’s all in the hands of the owners. Of course, some cars have woeful safety records. Others have perfectly fine ones but seem to attract crappy drivers. Whatever the reason — let’s be honest, it’s likely some combination of the two — we need reams of real-world and manufacturing data to see how a car really performs on the road.
And that’s what makes this recent report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety so interesting. An authority on automotive safety, it crunched the numbers on hundreds of models from 1989 to 2015 to get a picture of how trouble-prone cars can be in the real world. From econoboxes to supercars, the IIHS analyzed thousands of insurance claims, breaking them up into six categories. We couldn’t share all of the findings with you (if you have a few hours to kill, you can do that yourself), but we have highlighted some of the more eye-opening findings. Here are 10 cars, from subcompacts to sports cars, that seem to attract trouble for owners and their insurance premiums.
1. Mitsubishi Mirage
The Mirage is one of the cheapest cars in America, and its no-frills interior, tinny construction, and buzzy, underpowered engine make it a throwback to ’90s-era econoboxes in the worst way. And according to IIHS research, you’d fare about as well in collisions if you were driving a 20-plus year old car. Mirage owners file more insurance claims across the board than almost any other modern car. Drivers are 35% more likely to file collision damage, 8% to file property damage, 19% to file a comprehensive claim, 115% more likely to file for personal injury, 142% to file for medical payments, and 59% more likely to file a personal injury claim. Those are pretty sobering numbers.
2. Chrysler 200
It’s hard not to pile on the now-discontinued Chrysler 200, but we can’t think of a recent car that’s been plagued by more problems, recalls, and bad news. Chrysler apparently didn’t think much about its midsize sedan (it was only in production for two years), and now it looks like drivers are realizing why the automaker gave up on this model. According to the IIHS, owners of the base, front-wheel drive 200 are 74% more likely to file personal injury claims, 89% to file for medical payments, and 52% more likely to file bodily injury claims with their insurance company after an accident.
3. Ford Mustang
For over 50 years, the Mustang has represented freedom to millions of American drivers. Why? Sporty good looks, a great value, and a lot of performance for the money. That’s also why Mustangs have a terrible reputation for causing wrecks.
While you don’t see these kinds of numbers for the most expensive performance cars, the Mustang’s combination of cheap speed and popularity seem to invite a rash of poor behavior that drivers — and their insurance companies — end up paying for. According to the IIHS, Mustang drivers (primarily V6 and EcoBoost-powered cars) are 75% more likely to file collision claims, 31% more likely to file comprehensive, 9% more likely to file personal injury claims, and 35% more likely to seek medical payment from their insurers.
4. Kia Optima Hybrid
Today, the Kia Optima is a handsome, stylish midsize sedan with just enough performance to make spirited driving fun. And in hybrid form, the Optima returns an impressive combined 37 miles per gallon. It even has an impressive safety record. But according to the IIHS, the 2013-15 model attracts trouble for some reason. Optima Hybrid owners are 43% more likely to file collision claims, 39% more likely to file personal injury claims, 58% more likely to file for medical payments, and 51% more likely to file a personal injury claim.
5. Nissan GT-R
Simply put, the Nissan GT-R is an awesome car. At over $100,000, it isn’t cheap, but its 545 horsepower twin-turbo V6, all-wheel drive powertrain, and funky, aggressive interior all make it look like it drove right out of Gran Turismo. And therein lies the problem: The GT-R has supercar levels of power, and owners are seemingly all too eager to use it — whether they know how to or not. GT-R owners are a whopping 273% more likely to file collision claims and 217% more likely to file comprehensive claims compared to owners of similar cars.
6. Kia Rio
Like the Mirage, the Rio flirts with being one of the cheapest new cars sold in America. And like the Mitsubishi, it isn’t a car that you’d want to crash in. Drivers are just 1% more likely to file collision claims, but they’re 20% more likely to file for property damage, 65% more likely to file personal injury claims, 73% more likely to seek medical payment, and 64% more likely to file bodily injury claims.
7. Mitsubishi Lancer
The Mitsubishi Lancer was a handsome, sporty, and fun-to-drive midsize sedan — when it came out in 2007. But the car remained in production largely unchanged through 2017. It’s been discontinued for 2018, but if anything it shows how far cars have come in the past decade. Lancer owners cause headaches for insurance companies. They’re 53% more likely to file insurance claims, 46% more likely to file for property damage, 27% more likely to file comprehensive claims, 92% more likely to file for personal injury, 118% to file for medical payments, and 72% more likely to file for bodily injury.
8. Porsche 911 Turbo AWD
For over 50 years, Porsche has been adhering to (and perfecting) the 911, a high-performance car with its powerful engine hanging out behind the rear axle. In the early years, this made the car quite a handful for uninitiated drivers. Today, the 911 is one of the best-handling performance cars in the world. But apparently, that hasn’t stopped drivers from getting into trouble in them. The IIHS found that 911 owners are 249% more likely to file collision claims and 267% more likely to file comprehensive claims.
9. Dodge Journey
Dodge’s sole crossover has been fighting the good fight to varying degrees of success since 2009. And while it gets a decent safety rating from the IIHS, insurance claims paint a different picture. Owners are 48% more likely to file personal injury claims, 63% more likely to seek medical payments, and 31% more likely to file a bodily injury claim.
10. Nissan Rogue Select
Introduced in 2014, the second-generation Nissan Rogue is one of the hottest-selling crossovers in America. The problem was the first-generation model was selling like crazy, too. So for 2014-15, Nissan offered the old Rogue at a discount alongside the new model. Called the Rogue Select, it was a modest success for the brand. But it also highlighted the divide between the old and new Rogues. Owners of the Select are 36% more likely to file a claim for property damage, 54% more likely to file a personal injury claim, 59% more likely to file for medical payments, and 32% more likely to file a bodily injury claim.