Launched in 2003, Autoblog (Autoblog.com) is not a blog in the traditional sense. It is a fully staffed news outlet with complete editorial and photographic departments that are owned and operated by AOL through their Weblogs, Inc. subsidiary. Today, the blog gets over 2 million visitors every month.
Autoblog describes itself as obsessive about covering the latest news, new car reviews, videos, podcasts, high-quality photography, and new and used car shopping tools in the auto industry. This review deals with the main blog, but as a sidenote, there are several subdivisions within Autoblog, including:
Autoblog is chock-full of resources and tools for anyone looking to buy, sell or maintain a new or used car. Site visitors will find nationwide and local listings in the millions for all car makes, models and years. Visitors are provided a comparison tool while searching for cars on price, features, and performance, able to compare up to five cars at a time.
Autoblog does well by offering a payment calculator for car buyers. The tool is designed to help buyers determine how much a car will cost beyond just the sticker price. As it does on other car sites, the payment calculator is a good compliment to the comparison tool. This calculator helps buyers sort through the incentives, rebates, leasing deals and low interest rates. For those for whom it's applicable, the payment calculator also factors in the trade-in value of the old car into the cost calculations. Found under the Book Values in the Used Car category, Autoblog's Trade-in tool helps buyers find used car trade-in, resell, certified pre-owned and retail values of used vehicles based on the condition, mileage, and other factors of the car sale.
Another good thing is that Autoblog is always current with the latest news in the auto industry with daily, up-to-the-minute trending topics displayed for visitors. Such topics are Cars that Depreciate Slowest and Consumer Reports Best Car Brands. There are many additional resource articles for car owners with news and tips on car repair, gas prices, insurance issues and recalls. Unlike other websites in the automotive niche that cater specifically to car buyers and sellers, Autoblog's content is great for car hobbyists as well. The site has a page in the video section called The List, an online show on the theme "1001 Car Things to Do Before You Die". As of today, the latest webisode covers item #0100 on the list, which is to drive the Italian Alps. Other List topics recommend cars and all things auto-related, such as the Best of Driving Schools and the Best of Off-Road Racing.
One group that Autoblog doesn't cater to are those with vehicles other than cars. Unlike a site such as CarSoup.com, Autoblog does not have listings for vehicles such as motorcycles, RVs or boats.
The site's pages are loaded with good information but could use some cleanup to make the page elements cleaner and easier to read. For example, the New and Used Cars for Sale page consists of three columns crammed together. There are Ads by Google in the top center (which at first glance can be confused with the actual page content] and a list of vehicle profiles in the center with car images that need to be larger. The left hand side is a long scroll of Narrow Your Search options while the right "column" displays a CARFAX report and Loan options. Perhaps Autoblog could separate these three columns (which are three separate topics) into their own pages. For example, CARFAX report could have its own page as well as the car loan feature. This way, the car listings could have viewer's complete focus. And speaking of CARFAX, Autoblog sends visitors to the CARFAX site for vehicle history reports.
There is no "in-house" recommendation tool, just articles and videos on "Top Ten Lists" to reference from. One suggestion to Autoblog is to revisit their site content categorization. For example, it is commendable that they offer both a comparison tool and a payment calculator, but it would be more user-friendly if both were on the same page with the car listings.