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Maintaining a clean driving record is the most sure-fire way to reduce auto insurance premiums, but choosing the right car with the right equipment is playing an increasingly important role in determining the cost of insuring your ride.

Since last year, Ontario residents who chose to equip their vehicles with winter tires automatically qualify for a 2 to 5 per cent discount on auto insurance premiums. Advances in vehicle technology – including autonomous braking, advanced airbags, pedestrian detection and lane keeping assist systems – have even greater potential to dramatically reduce accidents and the cost of insurance.

"As semi-autonomous vehicle technologies become available, we will see insurers trying to get ahead of the curve to shift their insured fleet to these safer vehicles, thereby creating more competitive rates," says Igal Mayer, CEO of RDA Insurance, which powers insurance rate comparison site ShopInsuranceCanada.ca. "Consumers will need to compare their vehicle purchase even more, right down to trim and options that include active safety technologies."

In an industry first, Aviva Canada recently began offering a 15 per cent discount on auto insurance for drivers of vehicles with autonomous emergency braking, which automatically applies the brakes when vehicle sensors or cameras detect a potential front-end collision.

"Autonomous emergency braking has been proven to help reduce the amount of collisions leading to fewer injuries and lower claims costs," said Steve Cohen, executive director of personal lines at Aviva Canada. "And we want to pass those savings to our customers."

According to the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), crash avoidance features could prevent up to 33 per cent of fatal crashes and 20 per cent of serious or moderate injury crashes. Since 2015, the IIHS has required vehicles tested to have automatic braking technology to be eligible for its Top Safety Pick award.

Our favourite deals this week feature vehicles with notable incentives that also come equipped with active safety technology.

Mazda

2017 Mazda3

When equipped with Mazda’s smart city brake support (available on Mazda3 GS trim and GT trim with the premium package), the Mazda3 is able to detect obstacles up to 200 metres ahead and is can slow itself down via a two-stage brake operation if a risk of collision is detected. Other optional safety features of the Mazda3 include a lane departure warning system with lane-keep assist, radar cruise control and forward obstruction warning system.

Cash purchasers can take advantage of a $1,000 incentive while finance customers qualify for a $550 rebate and lease customers are eligible for a $650 rebate. ShopInsuranceCanada.ca says the best available insurance rate for the 2017 Mazda3 starts at $1,597 annually (assuming a 35-year-old male in Toronto with a clean driving record).

2017 Mazda3 GT Automatic with Premium Package

  • MSRP: $26,900
  • Manufacturer Incentive: $1,000
  • Estimated Dealer Discount: $750
  • Freight, PDI, government fees: $1,835
  • Cash purchase price before tax: $26,985
  • Finance for 60 months at 1.49 per cent interest for $537 per month including tax (includes a $550 incentive and assumes zero down payment)
  • Lease for 48 months at 0.49 per cent interest (as compared to 0.99 per cent in December) for $394 per month including tax (includes a $650 incentive, assumes a 20,000 annual kilometre allowance and zero down payment)

Volvo

2017 Volvo V60

The 2017 Volvo V60 is equipped with an autonomous emergency braking system which can detect an impending collision using laser-based technology and is capable of automatically applying the brakes while disengaging the throttle in emergency situations. Volvo calls this feature City Safety and it is a part of the brand’s IntelliSafe technology suite, which includes adaptive cruise control, collision warning and lane-keeping aid.

Cash purchasers can take advantage of a $6,000 incentive while finance and lease customers are eligible for a $2,000 rebate with recently reduced interest rates. ShopInsuranceCanada.ca says the best available insurance rate for the 2017 Volvo V60 starts at $1,359 annually.

2017 Volvo V60 T6 Drive-E Premier All Wheel Drive

  • MSRP: $48,200
  • Manufacturer Incentive: $6,000
  • Estimated dealer discount: $1,000
  • Freight, PDI, government fees: $2,155
  • Cash purchase price before tax: $43,355
  • Finance for 60 months at 1.9 per cent interest (as compared to 2.9 per cent in December) for $936 per month including tax (includes a $2,000 incentive assumes zero down payment)
  • Lease for 48 months at 1.9 per cent interest (as compared to 2.9 per cent in December) for $663 per month including tax (includes a $2,000 incentive, assumes a 20,000 annual kilometre allowance and zero down payment)

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander

Available safety technology includes a forward collision mitigation system which uses laser and camera technology to determine an impending collision and relays audible and visual warnings to the driver, while automatically applying moderate to emergency braking as the situation requires. Additional optional safety features includes a blind spot warning system, lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert.

Cash purchase, finance and lease customers can benefit from a $2,000 incentive. ShopInsuranceCanada.ca says the best available insurance rate for the 2017 Outlander starts at $1,543 annually.

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander GT S All Wheel Control

  • MSRP: $37,998
  • Manufacturer Incentive: $2,000
  • Estimated dealer discount: $1,200
  • Freight, PDI, government fees: $1,840
  • Cash purchase price before tax: $36,638
  • Finance for 60 months at 0.99 per cent interest (as compared to 2.99 per cent in November) for $708 per month including tax (includes a $2,000 incentive and assumes zero down payment)
  • Lease for 48 months at zero per cent interest for $523 per month including tax (includes a $2,000 incentive, assumes a 20,000 annual kilometre allowance and zero down payment)

Toyota

2017 Lexus ES

Advanced safety technology includes a pre-collision system, which uses a radar sensor to detect obstacles in the car’s path and tightens the seatbelts while providing additional braking power. Lane departure alert with steering assist, which helps keep the vehicle in its lane without the need for driver intervention, also comes standard.

Cash purchase, finance and lease customers can take advantage of a $2,000 after-tax incentive. ShopInsuranceCanada.ca says the best available insurance rate for the 2017 ES 350 starts at $1,541 annually.

2017 Lexus ES 350 Front Wheel Drive Sedan

  • MSRP: $43,300
  • Manufacturer Incentive: $2,000 (after tax)
  • Estimated dealer discount: $2,000
  • Freight, PDI, government fees: $2,185
  • Cash purchase price before tax: $41,485
  • Finance for 60 months at 3.9 per cent interest for $866 per month including tax (includes a $2,000 after-tax incentive and assumes zero down payment)
  • Lease for 48 months at 2.9 per cent interest for $591 per month including tax (includes a $2,000 incentive, assumes a 20,000 annual kilometre allowance and zero down payment)

Andrew Tai is CEO of Unhaggle.

Manufacturer incentives and pricing calculations are based on Ontario customers and subject to availability of inventory. Dealer discounts shown are estimates for illustrative purposes only, may vary by region and are given at the discretion of individual dealers. Please note that while every effort is made to ensure the information above is accurate at the time of publication, pricing, incentives and discounts are subject to change or discontinuation at any time. Consult your local dealership for details. Auto insurance quotes are based on estimates from ShopInsuranceCanada.ca and actual rates may vary based on vehicle, location and driver.

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