The most ticketed car in America is… the Lexus ES 300. A midsize luxury sedan remembered for a smooth, quiet ride, an 8-ish-second 0-60 mph time, and looks dull enough to put Ben Stein to sleep? Aaron Cole tried his hardest to find drama and excitement behind the wheel of a 2016 Lexus ES 350 last year. Fast forward, and now we’re hearing that the snoozy barge’s predecessor receives more tickets than any other car on American roads. How did this happen?
Insurance.com looked at quote information from over 300,000 drivers to determine the most- and least-ticketed cars on the road. Each vehicle required a minimum of 250 insurance quotes to qualify, so as to ensure that each car had an adequate sample size, and the information was gathered over the course of 2014 and 2015. The ES 300 certainly stands out as an interesting winner (or loser, I suppose), but plenty of information can be gleaned from the results.
First, let’s get the obvious inferences out of the way: cheap performance results in speeding tickets and other traffic violations. Although the ES 300 took top honors on Insurance.com’s list, the Nissan 350Z, Dodge Charger SE/SXT, Volkswagen Jetta GL, Chevy Monte Carlo LS/LT, Mazda3 S, and Volkswagen GTI round out the top 7. Each of those cars has been in production for at least 10 years, meaning listing prices have had plenty of time to depreciate. On top of that, all those cars have serious sporting pretensions. Even the relatively low-powered Mazda3 S doesn’t really come as a surprise – I mean, Mazda USA itself made a commercial highlighting the little hatchback’s tendency to earn unwanted scrutiny from The Man.
Now, on to the surprises. Insurance.com’s Penny Gusner takes care to note that “it’s the driver that gets tickets, not the car, but it is interesting to see what vehicle makes and models attract drivers who are prone to traffic violations.” Via our Price Trends tool, the average price of a Lexus ES 300 on CarGurus sits just north of $5,000. Combine this with the age of the car—Lexus stopped making it in 2003—and it’s safe to say ES 300 drivers racking up these tickets aren’t likely the first owner (unless there’s a plethora of octogenarians living their lives a quarter-mile at a time). Add to the pile the Dodge Stratus SXT (#8 on the list) and the Acura CL 3.0S (#9), and it looks like drivers of old, cheap cars earn the attention of the police.
At the bottom of the pile, there are some entertaining (if not surprising) options. Anyone who’s been in a Buick Encore, the least likely car to earn a ticket, knows it’s not exactly the car most likely to bring out a driver’s wild side. Likewise, the Mitsubishi Mirage, of which only 12.5% of owners received tickets, may be cheap, but it’s not likely to be surpassing many highway speed limits anytime soon.
Did you think about the likelihood of getting a ticket when shopping for your car?