Here are the toughest cars to steal in America.
After our previous article on cars that are stolen the most, we decided to do the opposite and list cars that are hard to steal. Thankfully, this information is readily available via the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and an annual report it publishes called the Highway Loss Data Institute Insurance Report.
It's mainly used as a list of the most stolen vehicles in America, but the study also provides a list of cars that are a nightmare to a professional car thief. Out of interest, the most stolen vehicle, according to the latest study, is the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. The list of most stolen cars also includes the Hyundai Tucson and Dodge Charger Hemi.
When we studied the most stolen cars, we found out that they tend to be older models without modern anti-theft devices like a basic alarm system, a transponder immobilizer, or GPS tracking. This is why cars like the Honda Civic, Honda Accord, and Nissan Altima end up on the list.
Car insurance companies collect the data for this report. The IIHS crunches the numbers and comes up with relative claim frequency per 1,000 insured vehicle years. The information is further broken down into smaller damage claims and cases where cars had to be replaced entirely due to theft or damage. That gives you clear insight into theft frequency and, therefore, a list of cars least likely to be broken into and the least stolen vehicles.
In short, a low car theft rate is represented by fewer claims to replace the entire car.
Car thieves are an ingenious bunch. As soon as a manufacturer develops new anti-theft technology, they figure out a new way to get around it. Keyless entry cars are a prime example. Car owners see it as a luxury because you walk away and trust that the car will lock itself. When it debuted on the fourth-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class with a key fob disguised as a credit card-like device, it was groundbreaking.
But within years, car thieves found a way to block the key's signal, giving them access to the car. Now, we're at a point where we use a smartphone app to unlock a car. The humble electronic engine immobilizer also did its best to stop car theft, but you can buy a device to defeat it for as little as $35 from the web's dark corners.
To deter thieves is challenging, even if you own one of the cars on the list below. Even the most complex cars to break into can be loaded on the back of a flatbed and driven away. If thieves can't take the car, they'll poach whatever they can from it, including headlights, the spare tire, and the catalytic converter. The latter is obviously not applicable if you own an EV.
Just follow the basic rules, like parking in well-lit areas and watching for suspicious activity. Steering wheel locks also tend to help, if only to dissuade a thief that it's not worth the trouble.
With the above in mind, let's move on to the cars least likely to be stolen based on relative claim frequency. We can also see how many were stolen by looking at the relative overall losses, which is even more interesting if you add the number of said models insured.
If you look at the study, you'll see we skipped over some models. Otherwise, this list would consist only of Teslas and Volvos. Generally speaking, these two brands' models do exceptionally well because they're equipped with the same anti-theft systems. GM brands like Chevrolet, GMC, Buick, and Cadillac also appear on the list more than once.
We chose to include the Y because it's the best-selling of all the Tesla models. Like Elon Musk predicted, it also became the best-selling car in the world earlier this year. As far as electric vehicles are concerned, it's the one to beat.
But we're here to talk about auto theft, and according to the research, the Model 3 and Model Y are the toughest Tesla cars to steal - another win for electric vehicles.
Tesla offers multiple layers of security, starting with Sentry Mode. This uses the vehicle's cameras and sensors, and if the car thinks somebody's doing something dodgy, it will display "recording in progress" on the large infotainment display. Sentry Mode by itself is enough to deter vehicle thefts, but someone who manages to get into the car via a relay device attack still has to get past the Pin to Drive feature. Just like a smartphone, a Tesla requires a security pin to activate. And even if they bypass that feature, they still have to deal with GPS tracking.
To most thieves, a Tesla isn't worth the hassle. This is clearly evident when looking at the amount of vehicles insured versus the relative overall losses. According to the study, there were 372,928 Tesla Model Ys insured from 2020 to 2022, and the relative average loss was just four.
The Volvo XC90 has the usual anti-theft devices, but its real secret weapon is a built-in theft warning and tracking device. If a thief gets into the car, the alarm is activated. The owner will receive a message, and a push notification will be sent to the Volvo Cars app.
If it is indeed a case of theft, Volvo will start tracking the car, contact local authorities, and provide a live position.
We combined all of the Volvos on the list to get a figure of insured cars. If you combine the XC90, XC60, and XC40, you get 310,965 units. Add all of the relative loss figures together, and it comes to 43 cars.
You'd think the GMC Acadia doesn't get stolen because it's such a forgettable car, but no. Each model has a PASS-Key III+, which GMC says is a passive anti-theft device.
Instead of the owner having to push a button on the key, the Acadia's safety features are automatically armed as soon as the key is removed from the ignition. All anti-theft devices are deactivated when the key is inserted and turned from the lock/off position.
There are 122,400 2020 to 2022 insured Acadia's out there, and the overall loss figure is just 8.
Following the launch of the UX, it was slated in the media for being vulnerable to relay devices. Basically, a thief can make a digital copy of the key if it's located close enough to the door. For example, let's say you throw your car keys in a bowl by the door.
Lexus isn't the only manufacturer vulnerable to this attack, but it took a unique approach. Lexus noticed that owners were purchasing Faraday pouches from third parties. These pouches are magnetically enclosed, so an outside device can't pick up the signal from the key.
So Lexus decided to get in on the game and made its own Faraday Wallet. You can buy one for roughly $19.
Out of 39,808 UXs insured, only 10 claims were put in for an overall loss.
The Trailblazer has rather basic but quite robust anti-theft technology. It can detect an unforeseen or unwarranted intrusion into the car. This will trigger a device that deactivates the ignition. Even if a thief tries to start the vehicle with a 3D-printed plastic key or something similar, it will not work. The only thing that will start the car once this system is activated is the original manufacturer key.
There are 73,187 units of insured Trailblazers, and only six were written off as an overall loss. This figure is even more impressive when you compare it to other cars in the segment. The compact crossovers segment is so hot right now, and the list of available cars is longer than the Trailblazer itself.
The worst of the lot is the Mitsubishi Outlander, of which 30,796 were insured and 32 written off.
The XT5 is equipped with Advanced Theft Deterrent, which you activate by locking the car. This triggers an electric fuel filler lock, a steering column lock, an interior movement sensor, and glass breakage sensors.
It has a shielded battery and alarm to get around some of the more advanced methods of stealing a car. If you disconnect the battery or cut the wire to the siren, the alarm will still go off.
As mentioned earlier, some thieves are brazen enough to put a car on the back of a flatbed and drive off with it. The XT5 has a vehicle inclination sensor to stop this kind of vehicle theft. If it detects any tilt change, the alarm will go off.
There were 53,584 XT5s insured, and 10 were stolen and written off.
If you want less attractive styling but the same security features as the CT5, go for the Envision. Both are equipped with Advanced Theft Deterrent, boasting the same features.
The lower price means more Envisions were insured from 2020 to 2022. A total of 60,623 insured models were out and about during the last two years, and only 10 were a complete loss due to theft.
There's an interesting point to be made about cars like the XT5 and Envision. As mentioned in the report, the most stolen cars tend to be sporty models with an overabundance of horses. Thieves don't always steal them to sell. Sometimes, they only take the cars for a few hours to get their jollies, and then they crash into a tree.
Just by being dull, the Envision and XT5 are more secure.
The Defender can also detect when somebody has illegitimately gained access to your car. It will send an alert to the InControl Remote app, and all its other features will be shut down for additional security. This keeps a person with access to your phone and your car from driving away with it. The only way to start the vehicle in this situation is by using the key fob.
The app also comes with various modes, like Guardian. It lets you know what's happening with the car even when the key is used to open it. This is perfect for a valet service.
You can also put the car in Transport and Service modes, keeping a young mechanic from hooning around in your Defender V8 Bond Edition.
The IIHS only provided figures for the Defender 110, most likely because it's the most popular. The 130 pictured below is much larger and will inevitably become the new favorite. Out of 32,971, only 25 were completely lost.
Like the Trailblazer, the Leaf has a straightforward system. It detects unauthorized access, which will disable the ignition device. Since the Leaf is an electric car, it doesn't have a traditional ignition system. It's just a few lines of code. Either way, you can't start the car without the original manufacturer key.
Thanks to the above, out of the 32,882 Leafs insured, only 10 were lost. It's not as impressive as the Tesla Model 3, but still worth keeping in mind.
Out of interest, EVs are more secure thanks to charging. When charging on the road, the car is normally parked in a well-lit area that's always being recorded. At home, the car is likely parked in a garage, plugged into a socket. Most EVs lock the charger in place when the car is locked, which is another problem standing in a thief's way.
Merc's Anti-Theft Protection Package is standard on most of the German brands' products. The GLE includes an anti-theft alarm system, a loud alarm siren, interior monitoring, and tow-away protection. Once again, this is another car thieves can't simply tow away.
It does very well in another high-risk segment. Thanks to Kia and Hyundai's TikTok problem, out of the 168,608 Tellurides insured, 37 were a complete loss. The Honda Passport is also a favorite amongst thieves. There were 110,490 insured, and 52 were lost. But the Jeep Wrangler PHEV appears to be the worst offender of the lot. With 47,343 units insured and 53 write-offs.
Out of 63,116 vehicles insured from 2020 to 2022, only 22 were complete losses due to theft.