The Toyota Camry and Honda Accord dominate another list of most-popular vehicles nationwide, but it's not a list you will see touted in advertisements or commercials.
The two models hold 17 of the top 25 spots in a ranking of vehicles most stolen in the United States last year, according to CCC Information Services Inc., an insurance industry tracker of trends in theft and other vehicle damage.
The 1989 Camry led the way for the fourth year in a row, followed by 1990, 1991 and 1988 versions. Honda's 1994, 1996, 1990 and 1995 Accords placed fifth, sixth, eighth and 10th, respectively.
Overall, five Camry models and a dozen of the Accords placed among the top 25 in Chicago-based CCC's yearly list, to be released today. Last year's list had 19 Camrys and Accords.
Trucks, SUVs Also Popular
Reflecting a growing appetite for pickup trucks among thieves, the 1994 Chevrolet C1500 4x2 pickup truck placed seventh — up four spots — while the 1997 Ford F-150 4x2 pickup came in ninth. In last year's listing, the F-150 model placed fifth as the only vehicle in the top 10 — foreign or domestic — that wasn't a Camry or Accord.
Also of note: 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4x4 sport utility vehicle placing 20th, marking the first time an SUV made the list in four years, CCC spokeswoman Jeanene O'Brien said.
Absent from the list for the first time in at least four years is the Chevrolet Caprice, perhaps reflecting declining consumer appeal for domestic mid- and large-sized domestic sedans, O'Brien said.
Still, cases of major vehicle theft dropped 8.5 percent in 2000, following a 15 percent decline the year before, CCC said its data showed.
Reliability Is Key
Observers say Camrys and Accords remain popular among thieves because there's a great demand for their spare parts, they have been top-sellers for years and can be driven for hundreds of thousands of miles.
Those two models also tend to change little each year — making more parts interchangeable between model years — and hold their value better than competitors, meaning fewer ended up in junkyards and more still were on the road.
Toyota and Honda don't take any pride in their rankings, saying it's more a reflection of how CCC measures car theft — based only on stolen vehicles never recovered, or stripped to the point of being a total loss.
Toyota spokesman John McCandless said the study is skewed for cars with durability — "I don't think it's good math" — and isn't a representative sampling because it excludes joy rides, among other things.
"The headline is we've been leading the list for years for the same reasons — because our cars last, and the study's biased," he said.
Said Honda spokesman Kurt Antonius: "It's a list we're not particularly pleased to be on."
Honda has said the Accord would be in the middle of the pack if the rankings were weighted to show the proportion of stolen cars to total sales of that model.
Different Cars for Different Regions
The National Insurance Crime Bureau reported in November that Accords and Camrys also were the most stolen vehicles nationwide in 1999. That nonprofit bureau, which also tracks thefts for insurance companies, combines theft reports for all years of a particular make and model. CCC ranks the cars annually by make, model and option groups.
Thieves' tastes for stolen vehicles vary widely among different regions. American vehicles were more popular in the Midwest, while Japanese brands dominated the East and West coasts.
In Michigan, the CCC said, all the top 25 most-stolen vehicles were American, with Dodge products claiming eight of the spots. In Texas, all but two of the list's top 25 were pickup trucks, more than half of them Chevrolets.
CCC tracked 80,299 vehicle thefts that resulted in a total loss last year, as well as crash and other damage claims. That's down from 87,752 in 1999. Those numbers reflect the vast majority, but not all, of such claims filed nationwide.