The 1960s and '70s saw the golden age of muscle cars, and wood-panelled station wagons dominated the '80s and '90s, but what are people driving now?
It’s no mystery that certain geographical regions favour small, speedy cars, whereas others prefer large, durable vehicles, and two-door coupes won’t cater to every audience. But which vehicle models do people seek out the most, and at what age do their preferences shift?
We sought to find the top vehicle make and model among each generation in Ontario and Alberta on the RATESDOTCA website between 2019 and 2020.
Vehicle make refers to brand/manufacturer (e.g. Honda, Toyota, Nissan, etc.), model refers to the specific product, and popularity refers to the percentage of transfers (a person who quoted with intent to purchase an auto insurance policy on our site) each make and model received among each generation. Here’s what we found:
Ontarians love the Honda Civic
According to RATESDOTCA data, the Honda Civic ranks as the most popular car among nearly all generations in Ontario. The exception: silent generation drivers (aged 76-93) prefer the Toyota Corolla — but only marginally, as the Honda Civic appears second on the list for this age group.
In fact, Canadians’ love for the Honda Civic runs deep, driving the model to earn the title of Canada’s best-selling car for 23 years in a row. And it’s on track to hold the title for 2021 as well.
The most popular vehicle models among all generations in Ontario:
- Silent generation: Toyota Corolla
- Baby boomers: Honda Civic
- Generation X: Honda Civic
- Millennials: Honda Civic
- Generation Z: Honda Civic
Further findings suggest that Gen-Z and millennial drivers favour compact cars, such as the Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Elantra. Often, sedans and smaller vehicles are easier to maneuver, making them great starter cars.
At the same time, Gen-X and baby boomer drivers gear toward mid-size vehicles, like the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, and minivans like the Dodge Grand Caravan — possibly to accommodate growing families.
Alberta is truck country
According to Statistics Canada, Albertans bought 184,360 new motor vehicles in 2020; more than 88% were trucks. However, our data show that Alberta drivers start small, choosing sedans and other compact cars before sizing up their wheels.
The most popular car makes and models among the different age groups in Alberta, according to our data:
- Silent generation: Honda CR-V
- Baby boomers: Ford F-150
- Generation X: Dodge Ram
- Millennials: Honda Civic
- Generation Z: Honda Civic
Bigger, heartier vehicles with four-wheel drive can improve safety in the mountainous road conditions and gruelling winter weather Albertans experience.
Why does the car’s make and model matter to insurance companies?
Car insurance companies use many factors to determine the rates drivers pay for premiums. Some are driver-specific, such as age and experience (years behind the wheel), while others have to do with the vehicle itself, such as the engine size and safety features.
Pricier vehicles are typically more expensive to insure because they are also more costly to replace. If a collision occurs, the car insurance company will be on the hook for a bigger bill; therefore, the driver must pay more as well.
Premium brands such as Audi, for example, may also cost more to insure because their parts are hard to acquire and expensive to replace.
The vehicle model will usually determine the engine size. And since horsepower equals speed, the faster a vehicle can go, the more expensive it can be to insure.
Number of claims
Car insurance companies use historical claims data to determine rates for particular makes and models. If, for instance, insurance providers receive several claims for the 2016 Acura TLX, drivers of that make and model will typically pay more for auto insurance even if they have never been in a collision.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) gathers claims statistics each year to show drivers how different vehicle makes and models measure up. Cars with low claims will often be cheaper to insure.
Newer vehicles have standard safety features such as airbags and backup cameras. Backup cameras have been mandatory in new cars in Canada since May 2018. However, some vehicles are safer than others.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) evaluates vehicles’ crashworthiness and crash avoidance annually, giving each make and model a safety rating. Safer cars can be cheaper to insure.
Does vehicle size matter?
According to the IIHS, larger vehicles better protect their occupants in a collision, resulting in higher safety ratings.
Despite larger vehicles being safer to drive, they can inflict more damage on others. However, your insurance provider doesn’t typically factor that into the rate you pay.
If another driver were injured, their accident benefits would pay for their recovery. These are “no-fault benefits,” meaning they are paid out regardless of who caused the collision.
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While the vehicle you drive does matter to insurance companies, your driving history is more important. Safe driving habits and a clean driving record can ensure you pay low auto insurance rates.
We reviewed RATESDOTCA data of drivers in Ontario and Alberta to find the car makes and models that received the most auto insurance quotes among each generation on our site between 2019 and 2020. We define generations as follows: silent generation, born 1928-1945; baby boomers, born 1946-1964; generation X, born 1965-1980, millennials, born 1981-1996; generation Z, born 1997-2021.
With files from Michelle Bates.