Subaru steadily climbed in a shopper loyalty study for Q1 2013 to the No. 3 position, residing among the top-three brands for the first time since Q4 2009.

“As current Subaru owners prepare to off-load their current vehicle, it is easy to reconsider the brand as it offers a diverse lineup, including models that not only appeal to the everyday shopper like the all-new 2014 Forester, but also a sportier option like the BRZ,” said Akshay Anand, Kelley Blue Book Insights analyst of its survey data collected. “With Subaru’s first-ever hybrid vehicle arriving at dealerships in Q4 2013, the 2014 XV Crosstrek Hybrid is expected to help the brand retain even more shoppers as its portfolio expands into hybrid technology.”

A manufacturer known for its hybrid vehicles is holding its ground as the No. 1 brand in terms of shopper loyalty for six consecutive quarters: Toyota, which held 53.6 percent if its owners’ interest in Q1 2013. Honda is in second place with 50.8 percent (Subaru is at 49.9 percent).

“Toyota’s esteemed stance as the leading automaker in shopper loyalty continues into Q1 2013 with help from the recently redesigned 2013 RAV4,” said Anand.  “For those shoppers interested in a full-size sedan, Toyota also saw a surge of shopper interest to its redesigned 2013 Avalon, showcasing the brand’s positive response from consumers with its updated styling and features.”

While Hyundai and Kia garnered tremendous success during the past few years, these brands dropped in shopper loyalty among’s new-car audience, which can be attributed to the lack of redesigns or refreshes in the last year from both Korean companies from key models.

Hyundai continued its slow fall from No. 4 in Q4 2012 to No. 6 in Q1 2013, while Kia dropped from the No. 4 spot between Q4 2011 and Q2 2012 to the No. 7 position in Q1 2013.

“Hyundai is expected to regain shopper loyalty when the brand’s best-selling Sonata is updated for 2014,” said Anand. “Not only will the redesigned Sonata help it compete better with its rivals, but it also will catch the eye of new-car shoppers with its fuel economy and affordability.”

Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence examines shopper loyalty while consumers are still in the shopping phase.  For this analysis, shopper loyalty is defined as owners of the brand who are currently shopping the same brand for their next new vehicle.  This includes data from consumers who view a trade-in page or private party page, in addition to a new-car page on Kelley Blue Book’s