"We use a make and model rating system and track the claims experience for every make and model there is then rate them accordingly," says Dick Luedke, State Farm spokesman (statefarm.com).

So while we'd like to be able to tell you that you can get a break on your insurance by buying the two-wheel-drive version of the truck of your dreams, or by getting white paint instead of red, it really depends on which truck-including model, trim level, engine type, and other variables-you buy and what kind of driver you are.

To get a more accurate idea of what a vehicle might cost to insure, check ratings of new cars online on your insurer's Web site, or call your broker and ask for rates on the vehicles you're considering.

For theft loss averages you can check the Highway Loss Data Institute's Web site (hldi.org) for the model you are considering. For example, the 4WD Lincoln Navigator shows the third-worst average theft loss rate of $71 per insured vehicle, while the two-wheel-drive version is seventh worst, at $62. So regardless of drivetrain choice, a Navigator is going to be expensive to insure because thieves like them.

And better to avoid the Cadillac Escalade if insurance cost is a concern. The Escalade leads the HLDI list in theft-claims frequency and loss per vehicle, with a claims frequency nearly five times the average for new cars. And thieves don't just target high-bling SUVs, the Jeep Wrangler and Dodge Ram pickup are fourth and eighth on HLDI's claims frequency list.

But insurance companies consider more than just theft losses. Vehicles are rated for a variety of factors, not least of which is occupant protection. "A lot of people think that a bigger car would protect you better, but that is not always the case," says Luedke. "It is hard to make general comments about types of vehicles. It depends on how a vehicle is constructed."

Construction also affects how much vehicles cost to fix after a fender-bender, which is reflected by collision insurance rates. "We adjust rates according to the claims payments," Luedke says. "One car might have lower comprehensive payments because it is harder to steal, while another car might have less collision insurance [cost] because it has better damage-resistant bumpers."