JD Power reports that Hyundai’s industry-leading retention rate is primarily driven by its Elantra and Sonata models. Hyundai owners are more likely than those of any other car maker to buy the same brand again, says a JD Powaer study.

The research company’s annual customer retention study found that Hyundai ranked highest among 33 car brands and improved its retention rate in the past two years to 64 percent. That placed the South Korean brand clearly ahead of Ford and Honda (60 percent), followed by BMW and Kia (59 percent).

Former champion Toyota dropped another place to sixth with 58 percent compared with its table-topping 64.6 percent of four years ago. Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus (54 percent) dropped six percentage points in just a year to slide from equal third (with Hyundai) in 2011ast year to ninth behind Chevrolet and Mercedes-Benz.

Some surprising names in the bottom half of the ladder included Audi (45 percent), Porsche (42 percent), Mazda (which dropped from 37 to 34 percent), Volvo (30 percent), Chrysler (26 percent) and Suzuki, which finished second-last (beating only doomed Saab) with 20 percent. Jaguar finished well down the list, but almost doubled its retention rate from 16 to 31 percent.

JD Power director Raffi Festekjian said one in three new-vehicle owners who switched brands said their previous brand did not make the type of vehicle they wanted, indicating that finding the right combination of models and vehicle appeal is critical to retaining customers.

Other key reasons for switching brands relate to dissatisfaction with the previous vehicle, including maintenance costs, dependability issues and resale value.

Festekjian said: “Many automotive brands are expanding their model line-up in an attempt to capture more buyers, but that isn’t enough by itself.