By on May 18, 2012

Canadian Car crooks have an affliction for Asian automobiles. According to a list of the 10 most stolen cars in Canada – 2011, published by the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), half of the cars are Japanese, with Toyotas and Hondas taking the podium.

And the losers are:

  1. 2009 Toyota Venza 4-door
  2. 1999 Honda Civic SiR 2-door
  3. 2000 Honda Civic SiR 2-door
  4. 2006 Ford F350 Pickup Truck 4WD
  5. 2002 Cadillac Escalade EXT 4-door AWD
  6. 2006 Chevrolet TrailBlazer SS 4-door 4WD
  7. 2007 Ford F350 Pickup Truck 4WD
  8. 2001 Pontiac Aztek 4-door AWD
  9. 1998 Acura Integra 2-door
  10. 1999 Acura Integra 2-door

The 5 American cars are all trucks, except for #8. That was no truck, that was an abomination on wheels. How a 2001 Pontiac Aztek 4-door AWD can land in the Top Ten is anybody’s guess.

The best guess is probably that of a commenter on GMinsidenews.com, who said:

“LOL …..check out #8!! Must be some sort of gang initiations thing or something!”

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59 Comments on “Canadian Car Thieves Heart Japanese. Sometimes, They Make An Exception...”


  • avatar
    aristurtle

    Civics (and Integras) of the 1990-2000 vintage are just incredibly easy to break into. They always make these lists.

    • 0 avatar
      gmcd

      I suspect the comment about the gang initiation thing may not be too far off the mark! The Aztek is an appalling vehicle in many ways – not least the demented styling, but for those – especially of my sons generation – who love the very popular TV series “Breaking Bad” the hero’s attachment to his Aztek is quite touching. I could see it being an ironic gesture of solidarity with an outsider and lawbreaker. Or maybe it just flys below the radar because no-one (cops) would believe it worth stealing.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    How in the hell do you hide a stolen Aztek from the law?

    Are there that many of them up north, that they just blend in?

  • avatar
    Wade.Moeller

    When we had an Aztek for a few years, the grocery carryout boys all commented on it being cool. If you compare it to a Honda Matrix, they are about the same shape and those were pretty popular to the youngsters.

    What I want to know is, how did they get around the PK3? We only ever had 1 key to start it since a duplicate PK3 was quite expensive.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I would think that more Pontiac Aztecs were returned than stolen last year. “Hey mister, you forgot your Aztec.” “That’s alright.”

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    People leave the keys in thier Aztecs hoping they will get stolen….

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    It probably has to do with no one locking the Azteks, let alone set the alarm. They probably figure that if someone steals it, the insurance will pay for something that looks better. Like a 1987 Pony.

  • avatar
    peekay

    Okay I’m gonna go way out on a limb here and say that recent history has shown the Aztek to be guilty of nothing more than being ahead of its time. It was the first of the new generation of ugly cars. At the time it came out I hated it. But now ugly is the new chic, and the Aztek fits right in better than other cars of its era. I know the plastic body cladding is a throwback to Pontiac’s worst days, but other than that, the design now comes across as not so bad.

    I remember at the time thinking that it looked like about four separate design teams had each designed a section of the body without seeing what the other teams were doing, and then they were all lumped together. Now that ugly is the new beautiful, I gotta give it credit for being a better car than I initially thought. Wow… never thought I’d say that!

    • 0 avatar

      You make a very interesting point. But the thing is, the Aztek may be ugly, but most cars have become so ugly, that while it looks a bit clownish (and I saw a news report recently saying that clowns are actually stealing Azteks), it’s actually less ugly than a lot of cars, like the Murano, and the CRV, and any Dodge except for the Charger, and the Matrix/Vibe, and the Focus, and I could go on and on…

      • 0 avatar

        I think I saw the news report about clowns stealing Azteks in some paper called the Onion.

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        Thank God you revealed your Trusted News Source. I was afraid it was going to be the New York Times or something.

        God, think of how many clowns could fit in an Aztek, and then try to stop screaming. 500+, I’m sure.

      • 0 avatar
        Pig_Iron

        Yeah, the Onion is great, but I really miss the Weekly World News.

        A guy on my street bought a yellow one the very first year, his plate had the number from an S/T Enterprise shuttle. It disappered suddenly a couple of years back.

    • 0 avatar
      4LiterLexus

      “New generation of ugly cars.” I’d tie this to the decline of 1990s minimalist styling in favor of whatever school of design spawned the Juke, Caliber, and ZDX, among others.

      But even if the Aztek’s design might have been ahead of its time (I still retch a little when typing those words), the interior and platform were dated even in 2001. Today, on the other hand, cars like the Juke combine decent interiors and handling with horrifying exteriors. That’s progress, I suppose.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Make no mistake. The Juke has a horribly cramped and compromised interior combined with an obvious lack of suspension travel to go with its hemorrhoid-surgery attractiveness.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      I was invited to a focus group on the Pontiac Aztek and I left thinking of it as a lobster. It had a hideous outside but the inside was yummy. No, the interior materials were God awful GM grade late 1990′s as bad as it get bean counter plastic and mouse fur. But the interior was amazing innovative. Seat back pockets that double as backpacks. A center console that doubles as a removable cooler. Full radio controls in the cargo area and a tailgate specifically designed to open and sit on. HUD and well laid out buttons that even Mr. Magoo could read. Comfortable seating for four, tolerable seating for five. GM got a lot right on the inside.

      If you look at ownership data and satisfaction scores, Aztek owners LOVED their Azteks. Certainly not for me. I practically begged the focus group people not to build the thing, but my small voice sure wasn’t going to matter.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        I saw a Crosstour drive by while in a meeting and blurted “goodness, someone bought one of those? I thought they were just out there to make the Aztec look good in retrospect.” just as the Gal who’s dad was on the Aztec design team walked in. She went on about people who have NEVER BEEN IN AN AZTEC having no right to an opinion for quite some time. She wound down, and I couldn’t help myself: “Still ugly on the outside, and I don’t want to get inside.”

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      Exactly! Many found the Aztec ugly, but at least it was original: the Element and others were just as ugly and derivative. If Lutz had decladded these in time, they may have been saved.

      • 0 avatar
        bkmurph

        Ugly is in the eye of the beholder. The Aztek has weird proportions (e.g. sky-high hatchback tail and almost no tumblehome) and gimmicky styling details on top of that (e.g. 4-port grille, plastic cladding). The Element is a clean, conservatively boxy design marred only by those odd plastic panels — but it’s not nearly as bad as the Aztek.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    If this list is adjusted for the number of cars sold that year, it wouldn’t take too many stolen Aztecs to make the top ten since so few of them were sold.

  • avatar
    CliffG

    2,3,9,10 are all stolen in Vancouver BC by the Asian gangs. A co-worker of my wife’s sold off his Integra S in disgust after coming out of his apartment one too many times and finding his heads stolen off his engine. A lot cheaper to modify your ricer if you don’t have to pay for the parts….

    • 0 avatar
      RyleyinSTL

      I can confirm the “Asian Gang” theory. BC and AB are particular hot beds. Whenever stuff would go missing (particularly auto related) my buddies and I would often blame it on the “damn Triads.”

  • avatar
    KalapanaBlack

    LOL Canucks are weird…

    Maybe “Breaking Bad” is HUGE up there or something.

    What’ll the now Aztek-less owners do with their custom rear hatch tents?

    No, no, I’ve got it. The Azteks are stolen not for their Aztek-specific parts, but for the durable, rare, and highly sought-after GM 3400 engine and the advanced Versatrak AWD hardware! I hear with the right mods, said engine can make over 600 bhp on stock internals, without even ruining the head gasket! VTEC owners the world over are dumping their Honda-manufactured, low-specific-output lumps in favor of this truly revolutionary and forward-thinking GM engine.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      Also, plastic recycling prices are up and with 1.4 tons of plastic per vehicle (the highest plastic content of any car ever manufactured), the Aztek’s value has more than quadrupled in the last two years.

    • 0 avatar
      LeeK

      No question about it, Walter White is single-handedly making the Aztek cool for a whole generation of Breaking Bad fans out there.

      • 0 avatar
        dejal1

        I’ve seen a couple of tan ones since the show started. I always make sure that the driver isn’t wearing a pork pie hat or that the windshield hasn’t recently been replaced. Mr. White is one of evilest characters ever on TV.

  • avatar
    Jellodyne

    Wow, the disabled have been making huge strides in equality. The blind have taken to stealing cars (as evidenced by #8 on the list) in addition to buying them (as evidenced by the fact that there were Aztecs on the road to steal).

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    The Aztek is a victim of its undeserved bad reputation. Except for the plastic body armor, which disappeared after the first year, and the ’59 Chevy-style slits in the hood, it is a good-looking (LOOK at it !) car, vaguely similar to the Prius, in shape. Most Aztek-haters are repeating each others’ cliches without adding any original thought. Part of the attraction of the Aztek is being different from all the jelly bean-shaped cars on the road. I’m just sayin’.
    OK, I own one- there ! I’ve SAID it ! Are you all HAPPY NOW ?
    YOU BASTARDS ! *sobs*

    • 0 avatar
      PhilMills

      Whatever it takes to make you sleep at night, man.

      The body cladding is just the first layer of ugly on that car. The base layer of ugly is that the whole thing just looks disproportionately tall. To be honest, it looks like a Legacy Outback with a terrible case of gigantism.

      Slap the cladding over that, add on those bizarrely-shaped square wheel arches and tiny wheels and you’re doing nobody any favors.

      Google Image Search, however, turned up some guy with larger wheels, a couple inches of lowered suspension and a body kit that fixes the wheel arches. God help me for saying so, but it actually looks decent.
      http://www.pro-touring.com/showthread.php?61092-Someone-actually-make-a-Pontiac-AZTEK-look-good

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        Most vehicles look better when made wider and lowered. And that picture is proof! However I’ve read what others have reported: Aztek owners, the few that managed to get past its look actually love the versatility of the darn thing.

        2 door Integras are on the top of nearly every stolen car list I’ve seen. You would think this might get Acura’s attention, but no… they just keep building ugly CUVs like everyone else.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      In essence the small CUV is a practical utility vehicle that sells to practically minded folks. It’s FWD car chassis with a tall station wagon top hat to facilitate stowing rear cargo behind the seats.

      What I remember at the time of the Aztek’s introduction was the late 90′s CR-V, Forrester and RA4 CUV’s were already on the road. None of them were real lookers, if I may say, but I did admire them for their practicality from a compact FWD wagon point of view.

      Ford introduced the 2001 Escape in 2000, which was based on a Mazda 626 platform – It was plagued with first year defects, but its truck-like looks enabled it to sell very well.

      When I saw the first Aztek, I knew it would forever be a niche model that wouldn’t sell very well. The vehicle obviously had the footprint of the original midsized Highlander, yet it had a cargo hold that might match the capacity of a RAV4.

      The Aztec was a missed opportunity for GM to play well in a much larger market – where practical minded buyers who wanted SUV like utility, but with fuel economy and the some pretense of an SUV with regards to styling. This is why Ford sold at least 100,000 Escapes per year for over a decade.

      GM did have some limited success with the more conservative Buick Rendezvous, but they didn’t really get into the main game until 04 with the 2005 Chevrolet Equinox and 07 with the 2008 Lambda body FWD utility vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        Wade.Moeller

        The Aztek is the same vehicle as the Buick Rendezvous. It’s a bit square shaped because GM didn’t want to pay to re-engineer the radiator mounts to allow for a more of a nose slant and the computer renderings didn’t truly represent the squareness of it.

        It also has a good bit of space in the back. I’ve put a 50cc scooter in it and closed the tailgate and hatch fully.

        The Aztek certainly wasn’t a CUV. It wasn’t even the SUV many people assume. It’s a minivan without sliding doors.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        “It’s a minivan without sliding doors.”

        Uh… that’s pretty much the definition of a CUV.

  • avatar
    vcficus

    I always thought it had a 70′s Logan’s Run kind of asthetic… not appeal, but asthetic.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Are there really that many Aztec’s around that they could be on any top ten list? Why did GM stop making them if they sold so many?

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      They sold about 60K units (don’t know the exact number) from 01 to 05. The first year they sold either 27K or 37K (can’t remember the exact number) but it was a flop no matter how you slice or dice it.

  • avatar
    RyleyinSTL

    I must be missing something. How do you rip off a 2009 Toyota Venza? Don’t these cars require a transponder key in order for the ECU to allow turnover? Perhaps this kind of security is easily defeated with a laptop and I just don’t know it?

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    While I do think the Aztek was somewhat ahead of its time, being no worse to look at than a BMW X6, 5 series Gran Turismo, Porsche Panamera, or Buick Enclave, perhaps they’re being stolen and disposed of by their owners’ aesthetically sensitive neighbors.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    When I left for lunch today, someone was waiting outside of my building in a first generation Honda Element. Why the Aztek got so much grief but this abomination didn’t, I’ll never understand. Must be the Honda thing…

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      Both are niche players to same miniscule segment.

      Except for the plastic cladding and the rear doors which aren’t soccer mom friendly, Honda did better in execution. The rear cargo area is very generous for the size of the vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      The Honda probably also benefited from being deliberately unstyled, like a civilian Grumman mail truck. However ill-proportioned it is, it’s utilitarian. The Aztek had aspirations of being cool or edgy or something.

      It’s like comparing an ’04 Corolla to an ’04 Sunfire – although neither are attractive, the Pontiac practically goes out of its way to get there.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    I must protest! I rented a gold Aztek once on a long road trip and found that once you were inside it was excellent. It handled great with the Versatrak and was very confortable. Plus I slept in the back one night! The one I rented was gold (not two-tone) and didn’t look that bad. I can see how their owners like them.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I did a quick look at used Azteks. Virtually all of them were under $8000. There were a few with over 200,000 miles that were under $4,000. All of the high mileage examples were 2wd.

  • avatar
    carbiz

    Once the media decided they hated these things, the jig was up. On our used car lot, back in the day, we could not keep these things in stock. With the optional fold out tent, rear speaker controls, kick ass sound system, they had some interesting features, but I don’t think they were ever marketed to the right audience.
    Far worse vehicles have been built before and since, but even with Pontiac now dead, buried and gone, certain media circles just can’t stop beating a dead horse, literally.
    Look at this thread. The article was about ALL the stolen vehicles, yet everyone zeroes in on one vehicle. Forget about the tin-can Asian imports that an 8 year old could break into, or the fact that thanks to the cost of Asian parts, a used Asian vehicle costs more than a Russian dial-a-bride to keep running (which is why they are stolen in the first place!)
    Nope – let’s beat on the Aztec. Let’s not forget the Vega, or Corvair while we’re at it……

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      A used Asian vehicle is expensive to keep running which is why they’re expensive? It is little wonder that you think Detroit cars are worthwhile.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @carbiz…..I couldn’t agree with you more. They being said..Good luck trying to convince this crowd.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      +1 mikey.

      I had two Azteks, a 2001 and 2004 Rally. The 2001 had a few teething problems being a brand new car, but nothing that was catastrophic or causing us to get stranded. It was a great car when my kids were little and in soccer, scouts, church functions, etc. In 2003 Pontiac announced the 2004 Rally was being released, my wife wanted one, so we got it (oh, for the good old days of the early 2000′s!). The Rally had a lot of issues, a lot more than the 01, but not worse than some of the horror stories I’ve heard about other cars.

      The Aztek was a great sized machine, big enough to seat five comfortably (unless your morbidly obese), the interior was innovative, the car was a great size for in city driving. With the pull out trays in the back, it was very handy, we could put heavy items on it and slide them into the back of the car. We used the rear tailgate seat often (especially at soccer games!) and generally the car gave good service, fuel mileage and utility.

      I didn’t trust the Rally and traded it for a Malibu Maxx, a car I thoroughly enjoyed, as it had much of the same utility as the Aztek without the bulk.

      As my 17 year old Pontiac rusts away, I’m considering a wide range of vehicles and price points; used Azteks are something of a bargain here in the States. The last I checked I could still get a 2004 Aztek (regular version) for ~$4-5K in decent condition.

      I’ll always remember when the cars were new, we’d meet another couple in a parking lot somewhere with their Aztek, and we’d trade stories about our cars. It was a fun club to be in actually. Of course this was back in 2001-2002, once they ramped up production and started selling them cheap, the camraderie seemed to disappear.

      I wouldn’t have chosen one of these for myself, but I ended up liking the beasts. Folks bag on them because of the looks, but the joke is on them, now.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Once they ramped up production? Sales peaked in 2002, and they never produced or sold enough in a single year to break even, let alone sell half of the projected annual total. 50% of 2001 sales went to captive fleets or GM itself. Believe it or not, teething problems in the first year of production followed by lots of issues late in production would cause a Toyota or Honda buyer to freak out and shop elsewhere, which is probably how they became Toyota and Honda customers in the first place.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    This is one of those things that could only happen in a screwy place like Canada.. free health care?? what were they thinking?

    In all honesty though this is just weird, funny but weird.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Parts, parts, parts, three reasons cars get stolen. Aztecs and Rendezvous are now attainable in low income working class neighborhoods, so demand for cheap parts goes up.

    Many GM cast offs end up as ‘status symbols’ in less wealthy communities. Azteks, Aleros, Auroras, Grand Ams, TrailBlazers and the various badge jobs. Now, recent inductees are Cobalts, G6′s, G5′s and Uplanders. Aveos die off sooner.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @chicagoland…Right, parts, parts parts. But its just a poor people thing? Because the working class, and the less wealthy are GM owners?

    Great, that would explain the Aztec. What about the other nine vehicles?

  • avatar
    gmrn

    1st production Aztek anyone?

    http://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/ctd/3022700818.html

  • avatar
    87CE 95PV Type Я

    I am surprised the Venza is stolen a lot, I thought it was hard to steal those.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    If being a criminal was your thing, and say, you specialized in the transport of illegal or banned substances, say drugs or guns or even illegal aliens, what would you drive?

    What vehicle, of all the vehicles in the Great White North, would pass by the Mounties with nary an extra glance?

    What says, “Nothing here, move along.”

    Which vehicle exudes, “These are not the marijuana bales you are looking for.”

    And which vehicle, so viewed, is most certainly capable of carrying said load of drugs or guns or people with relative ease?

    Best and Brightest, I present to you, a Pontiac cross-over thingie from the last decade. Mobsters love their Panthers. Kingpins dig their S-Classes and exotics. Pimps their Caddy coupes. But for today’s self-employed goods transporter, I give you the Aztek.


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