Car buyers in search of a safe and secure vehicle should check for electronic immobilizers and stability control features, according to U.S. and Canadian insurance bureaus.

The 1999 and 2000 Honda Civic SiR 2-door has topped the list of most frequently stolen cars for the second consecutive year, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, which released its top-10 list Tuesday.

André Beauchamp, director of auto theft and vehicle services at IBC, said the cars were particularly vulnerable because they were not equipped with electronic immobilizers, a computer-chip key and ignition security feature.

"The stats prove time and again that theft deterrent systems work. This year, we see that auto thieves continue to find it easier to steal older vehicles lacking an IBC-approved immobilizer," Beauchamp said in a release.

"We've seen this trend developing for several years, and these results confirm it."

As of September 2007, all new cars, light trucks and sport utility vehicles must be equipped with an electronic immobilizer under Transport Canada rules.

Also on the top-10 list of most frequently stolen vehicles are:

  • 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX/WRX STi 4-door AWD.
  • 1999 Acura Integra 2-door.
  • 1994 Honda Civic Si 2-door Hatchback.
  • 1998 Acura Integra 2-door.
  • 1993 Dodge Shadow Convertible.
  • 1996 Honda Civic Si 2-door Hatchback.
  • 2000 Audi TT Quattro 2-door Coupe.
  • 1996 Chev/GMC Blazer/Jimmy S Series 2-door 4WD.

In a 16-way tie, IBC deemed the following cars to be the best insurance bets in terms of car theft:

  • 1996 Mercedes-Benz C220W/C280W/C36 4-door.
  • 2001 Nissan Altima 4-door.
  • 1997 Volvo 850 4-door.
  • 1998 Toyota Sienna.
  • 1998 Chevrolet/Geo Metro Hatchback 4-door.
  • 2005 Saturn Ion Sedan 4-door.
  • 1994 Nissan Altima 4-door.
  • 2000 Saturn LS/LS2 4-door.
  • 1996 Chevrolet Corsica 4-door.
  • 1997 Nissan Sentra 4-door.
  • 1998 Buick Century 4-door.
  • 1994 Oldsmobile Eighty Eight 4-door.
  • 1997 Saturn SW1 Wagon.
  • 2000 Chevrolet Tracker Hardtop 4WD 4-door.
  • 1993 Buick Skylark 4-door.
  • 1993 Pontiac Sunbird 2-door.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is touting electronic stability control, which prevents rollovers, as a key safety feature in its list of safest 2007 model vehicles. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will require electronic stability controlto be included in all new cars by 2012. North American automakers did not make the safe car list this year, which included:

  • Large car: Audi A6 manufactured in December 2006 and later.
  • Midsize cars: Audi A4, Saab 9-3, Subaru Legacy equipped with optional electronic stability control.
  • Minivans: Hyundai Entourage, Kia Sedona.
  • Luxury SUVs: Mercedes M class, Volvo XC90.
  • Midsize SUVs : Acura RDX, Honda Pilot, Subaru B9 Tribeca.
  • Small SUVs: Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester equipped with optional electronic stability control

The cars were evaluated on side impact safety, whiplash protection for rear impact, and electronic stability control.

With files from the Associated Press