2011 Hyundai Sonata – Click above for high-res image gallery

It's no secret that Hyundai has been enjoying a healthy dose of praise lately, especially with fresh new products like the Genesis, Tucson and Sonata garnering a lot of media attention. But it isn't just the press that thinks Hyundai is on a roll – Kelley Blue Book now reports that the automaker now holds the Number One spot in brand loyalty, with 56.3 percent of Hyundai owners looking within the brand for new car purchases. Honda continues to hold the second place rank at 55.8 percent, and Toyota, in light of its recent recall woes, is down 4.4 percentage points to 53.3 percent, putting it in the third place spot.

Furthermore, the Sonata is now KBB's fifth most-researched new vehicle, mostly due to the hype surrounding the stylish new 2011 model. The only vehicles ahead of it on the list are perennial mainstays, such as the Honda Civic, Accord, CR-V and Toyota Camry.

KBB market analysts believe that Hyundai should continue to promote its attractive new products, competitive price points and great warranty program in order to keep the momentum going (duh). These analysts also suggest that domestic automakers (Ford and GM, specifically) will prove to be Hyundai's biggest competition in the near future, as these brands are set to roll out a host of new products to win over consumers. Follow the jump to read the full details in KBB's press release.

[Source: Kelley Blue Book]
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Kbb.com: Hyundai Owner Loyalty Speeds Past Honda, Replaces Toyota to Take No. 1 Spot

Hyundai Values Outperform Segment; Sonata Recently Breaks into Top 10 Most-Researched New Vehicles List

IRVINE, Calif., March 15 -- According to the latest Kelley Blue Book www.kbb.com Market Intelligence data, brand loyalty for Hyundai recently surpassed that of Honda and Toyota, leading Hyundai's brand loyalty to the No. 1 spot among car shoppers on Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com. In addition, Hyundai values have been outperforming the car segment average, and the all-new Sonata recently emerged on the kbb.com Top 10 Most-Researched New Vehicles list.

When comparing February 2010 data to Q4 2009, Korean import automaker Hyundai has seen the greatest recent increase in loyalty, with Hyundai owners looking at new models within the brand increasing by 10.4 percentage points to 56.3 percent. This surge leads Hyundai to the top spot in brand loyalty on kbb.com for the first time in recent history, up from third place in Q4 2009.

In the same timeframe, Toyota fell from the No. 1 spot to third place and Honda continues to hold steady at second place. A fewer percentage of Toyota owners are looking at new models within the brand, down 4.4 percentage points to 53.3 percent, driving Toyota loyalty to third place. Meanwhile, holding steady in second place, Honda owners looking at new models within the brand have increased by 0.7 percentage points to 55.8 percent.

In addition, the Hyundai Sonata recently broke into kbb.com's Top 10 Most-Researched New Vehicles list for the first time. In February 2010, the Sonata was the fifth most-researched new car on kbb.com, with only perpetual 'Top 10 Most-Researched' mainstay Honda and Toyota models such as the Accord, Civic, Camry and CR-V ahead of it.

Furthermore, according to Kelley Blue Book Values data, throughout the month of February 2010 Hyundai outperformed the overall car segment average by a healthy margin. Hyundai values increased 2 percent month-over-month, relative to a 0.3 percent increase for the entire car segment.

"Hyundai is clearly benefiting from 'a perfect storm' - a result of introducing passionate new products like the 2011 Sonata and 2010 Tucson, while Honda's mainstream vehicles like the CR-V and Accord are a bit stale in the marketplace and Toyota is experiencing a huge consumer perception crisis," said James Bell, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com. "To sustain this momentum, Hyundai should continue to promote its attractive new-vehicle lineup, solid warranty offer and strong price-points to new-car shoppers. Hyundai's main challenge in the near future will likely come from domestic automakers like Ford and GM as they gear up for battle over buyers starting to look for a change from 'Camry-land.'"

This Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence data analysis examined site traffic to used-car trade-in pages and new-car pricing report pages on Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com, and compared loyalty data from Q4 2009 to February 1 - 28, 2010. The Kelley Blue Book Values data within this release represents month-over-month used-vehicle depreciation percentages.

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