The Kelley Blue Book is perhaps the most common go-to choice when it comes to authoritative resources on car-related matters. It’s best known as a resource for determining the value of used cars; vital information for buyers and sellers unsure about the pricing for a vehicle.
Over the years, however, Kelley Blue Book (KBB) has grown into an enormous online enterprise, with a website that now includes shopping for new and used cars, among other things. Let’s take a closer look at KBB to see what it offers consumers.
Kelley Blue Book Cars: What’s On the Site?
First, let’s review what’s on the website, broadly speaking. First and foremost is the category you’d most likely expect to see, and that’s “Car Values.” This section includes resources on getting values on both new and used cars, as well as getting a valuation for your own vehicle. KBB has even joined the ranks of many car buying platforms in offering instant cash offers for cars. KBB provides this in conjunction with partner dealerships and it works by entering the vehicle identification number (VIN) or the license plate number.
Car values are what KBB is most known for, but what else is on the site?
Cars for Sale
The platform features listings from dealerships within a selected distance of the zip code you enter into the site. This is one advantage of the KBB search site in that it’s non-specific and therefore allows users to search for any vehicle in any part of the country, along with extensive filters to help narrow the search down. You can also now enter a budget amount in line with your current credit score.
Cars for Sale as a section also includes options for how users can sell their own vehicles quickly and easily using the KBB site and network of partner dealerships.
The extensive reviews section includes various lists of top 10s, which splits ratings into categories and model years. There’s also functionality, for example, to identify the best cars for road trips or the best three-row vehicles.
Besides these lists, the reviews section also includes:
- New Car Buyer’s Guide
- KBB Expert Reviews
- Electric Vehicle Guide
- KBB Awards
- Latest Car News
This section deals with information on recent car recalls and rates for typical auto maintenance and service work. Other resources include service and repair guides and help to locate local repair shops. KBB also provides a list of OBD-II scan codes to identify car problems before visiting an auto shop.
KBB research tools include resources for helping people better understand what kind of cars they want and determine the value of these vehicles. Finance and insurance information is also accessible. Vehicle history reports via AutoCheck are accessible either by entering a VIN or a license plate number.
Kelley Blue Book Cars: Buying Cars Online
KBB presents its car buying process as a four-step method:
- Step 1: Get a value on your current vehicle (for selling/trade-in purposes)
- Step 2: Explore and choose a new or used car
- Step 3: Get facts and information on car financing
- Step 4: Get details on insurance options
Let’s focus on the second step, as this is the principal reason for visiting KBB. The car shopping page first offers people the ability to search by year, make, model in relation to their zip code. Vehicles are also searchable by price range.
This is where things get pretty unique. Instead of being taken straight to listings like many other platforms, visitors go to something resembling a profile page. Let’s say you are in the market for a 2018 Ford Escape in your zip code. You then go to a profile like this one to see reviews, listings, photo galleries, specifications, safety information, and trim levels—all the information that’s needed to narrow the search. Other factors at the bottom of the profile help compare the selected vehicle to others.
Going back to the 2018 Ford Escape example, the details rank the car in horsepower, fuel economy, and consumer ratings against other vehicles in its class. So, for instance, the 2018 Ford Escape ranks number one in horsepower at 168, that’s 24 horsepower more than its closest rival, the 2018 Mazda CX-3. In fuel economy, however, the Escape ranks fourth with 24 mpg. The CX-3 gets the top spot with 31 mpg. Consumers provide individual ratings (out of five stars).
In other words, KBB offers a one-stop listing that provides essential information about the car you’re considering. A listing on Craigslist, for instance, may provide details on the vehicle itself (if the seller includes the specifics). But, you’ll be short on how that compares to what else is on the market.
KBB’s extra insights are helpful because this information puts individual car models into a broader perspective and allows buyers to better understand their choices. Any search will compare the car under consideration against others in its class. A lack of choices is also supplemented with links to similar vehicles that match preferences more closely.
Benefits of Kelley Blue Book Cars
Comprehensive and Authoritative
Whether you’re researching a vehicle purchase, curious about car values, or accessing other resources, it’s hard to deny the level of comprehensiveness and authority offered (for free) by KBB. This site is the ideal starting point for the car shopper who doesn’t know where to begin.
KBB’s mastery comes mainly from its reputation and brand recognition. Before the site became packed with resources and information, the KBB name was a clear authority on car values—a tool for both buyer and seller. Now the company offers a complete platform that provides all the steps to sell a car and shop for a new one. It’s an all-in-one approach that gives KBB a leg up on its competitors like AutoTempest .
Helpful Car Profiles
KBB’s profile pages pair nicely with the modern social media obsession to find out about something (or someone) in one place. Why just look at one car and its price when you can get a more complete story?
What’s especially useful about these profiles is the ease of comparing a specific model and year against alternatives. This technique can open the eyes of shoppers who may be stubbornly focused on a model they are most familiar with. A few clicks may reveal a better deal or an unexpected make and model that’s better suited to a buyer’s preferences.
It’s easy for people to have a one-track mind when it comes to car buying, and that’s what manufacturers want. If you had a good experience with a particular brand, you’re likely to stay with that company for the next car. But, this is old-fashioned thinking. Today’s automotive marketplace is filled with compelling alternatives, and KBB presents these options unambiguously.
Is Kelley Blue Book Cars The Most Reliable?
The reliability of KBB as a resource is hard to question. It’s independent and not motivated to promote any particular automaker or dealership over another. One arguable drawback is that KBB does offer something of an “information overload” when looking at cars. Some shoppers might find the sheer amount of available information to be overwhelming. It’s not as conducive to quick car browsing as some people prefer.
In the end, Kelley Blue Book remains a top choice for buyers who may not be overly knowledgeable about the cars they’re looking at. The precise information and available comparisons offer significant benefits to these shoppers.
About the Company
Kelly Blue Book (KBB) is an American vehicle valuation and automotive research company that was founded in 1926. The company is headquartered in Irvine, California and is best known for its "Blue Book" value, which is a guide that provides estimates of the value of used vehicles based on make, model, and year.
The company was founded by Les Kelley, who began selling used cars out of a dealership in Fresno, California. Kelley noticed that there was a lack of information available to consumers about the value of used cars, and so he created a reference guide that provided pricing information for used vehicles. This guide, which was originally called the "Black Book," eventually became known as the "Blue Book" and became the company's foundation.
Throughout the years, it has evolved and expanded its business to include a variety of services and resources for both consumers and the automotive industry. Today, the company provides valuations for new and used vehicles, as well as information on car pricing, car reviews, and more.