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The Kia Sportage is a popular small SUV. It’s compact enough to be easy to maneuver. It’s also stylish and versatile enough to be a good option for a wide range of drivers. Now, it’s also one of the most stolen vehicles in the United States. There are a few reasons why the Kia Sportage has made the list, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Here’s why, and what you might want to do to keep your SUV from being stolen.

A blue Kia Sportage with a landscape behind it
Kia Sportage | Kia

The Kia Sportage is one of the most-stolen vehicles right now

The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) compiles a list of the most-stolen vehicles. The Kia Sportage makes the top 20. In fact, 2019-2021 Kia Sportage models were stolen frequently enough to earn it the number 13 spot on the list. In addition, 2019-2021 Kia Sportage 4WD models were stolen often enough to earn the number 16 spot. Together, the Kia Sportage is a frequently-stolen SUV.

There were 163 insurance claims in 2021 of stolen Kia Sportage SUVs. There were also 159 4WD Kia Sportage models stolen. The relative claim frequency, which is the number used for rankings, was 269 for the Kia Sportage and 239 for the Kia Sportage 4WD.

Electronic immobilizers – or a lack thereof – contributes to the Sportage’s theft rate

According to the IIHS, the Kia Sportage isn’t alone in being one of the most frequently stolen vehicles. Other Kia and Hyundai models also make the list, thanks to the fact that they don’t often have electronic immobilizers. In fact, “among 2015-19 model-year vehicles, theft claims were nearly twice as common for Hyundai and Kia vehicles as a group as for all other manufacturers.”

It’s model year 2015-2019 model year Kias and also Hyundais that don’t have the electronic immobilizers. This is a feature that keeps potential thieves from being able to break the ignition and steal the car. While most other auto manufacturers made these standard on 2015-2019 vehicles, Kia and Hyundai didn’t, hence their high theft numbers. The IIHS notes that, “in model year 2015, when immobilizers were standard on 96 percent of other manufacturers’ vehicles, they were standard on only 26 percent of Hyundai and Kia vehicle models.”

The pandemic made car theft rates rise

The pandemic created a lot of issues, and one of them is an increase in car theft rates. The Senior Vice President of the HLDI, Matt Moore, said that, “Car theft spiked during the pandemic…These numbers tell us that some vehicles may be targeted because they’re fast or worth a lot of money and others because they’re easy to steal.”

To make matters worse, it became widely known via social media just how easy Kia and Hyundai vehicles are to steal. In Wisconsin, that fact made the rate at which Hyundais and Kias were stolen rise more than 30 times their 2019 rate. Yet immobilizers are now on Hyundais that were built after November 1, 2021. Kia has been installing immobilizers on all 2022 models, though you’ll have to double check to make sure that your new Kia has one, as it is sometimes put in “as a running change.”

If you do own a 2019-2021 Kia Sportage – or any Kia or Hyundai built before 2021 – you might want to be careful. While Hyundai has created a kit that should help reduce the risk of their vehicles being stolen (it will be for sale in October 2022), both auto manufacturers are working with police to keep their vehicles from being stolen. Hopefully these changes will reduce the number of vehicles being stolen.



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