What is known today as Kelley Blue Book (KBB)—first started in 1926—has origins dating back to 1918. The company gets its name from founder Les Kelley, who launched the initial enterprise under the name Kelley Kar Company. The enterprise was a car dealership with Model T Ford vehicles for sale.
Kelley collected raw data from his business operations with other dealers and banks, publishing the information for public consumption in the first Kelley Blue Book in 1926. This book became a standard guide in the automotive trade for determining car value.
By the 1960s, the company moved from a car dealership to a specialty publisher, focusing on the production of its automobile pricing guides.
The company details current market value and ranges for every type of new or used vehicle available on the market. Kelley Blue Book also provides dealer invoice pricing for new cars and trade-in values for used cars. Website visitors to kbb.com can also find expert and consumer reviews, safety ratings, and detailed 5-year Cost-to-Own data, as well as the opportunity to sell their car with an on-site ad listing.
Read on for pros and cons, plus Kelley Blue Book reviews from real users.
Kelley Blue Book's most significant feature allows owners to determine what their vehicle is worth, called Blue Book Value. All it requires is the make, model, mileage, model year, and relative condition to find the car's value. Car pricing is fast, free and requires just a few clicks to get the results.
Kelly Blue Book values are a go-to feature for both car buyers and sellers, whether going through a dealership or selling directly. The Blue Book values are the gold standard for determining vehicle valuation in the automotive market, allowing all parties, when buying or selling, to be informed and prepared to negotiate accordingly.
For new automobiles, KBB also provides information about a car's suggested retail price (the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, or MSRP) and the dealer invoice price.
For used cars, KBB provides retail value, certified pre-owned value, trade-in price, private party value, and an instant cash offer if you are looking to quickly sell your car to a local dealer.
Instant cash offers are to be redeemed with a participating dealer, pending inspection and appraisal.
When the Kelley Blue Book website was launched in 1995, it charged consumers $3.95 for a pricing report. The backlash was almost instantaneous. Customers insisted that online information should be free. In response, KBB did just that, offering a list of free pricing tools and services for both car shoppers and dealers.
Here are a few of the company's no-cost features/tools that stand out:
Free Dealer Price Quote. With the car make, model and zip code, users can find out the going sales price for any vehicle offered by car dealers.
Five-year cost-to-own. Helps prospective buyers to prepare for new car ownership by configuring the hidden costs over a five year period. These hidden costs are fuel economy, state fees, financing, maintenance, repairs, and insurance. Once the hidden costs have been calculated, it then allows buyers to compare and contrast those costs between different vehicles.
Next, it calculates the loss in value-what the car is worth in five years, adding the two together to determine the cost to own. This especially comes in handy when comparing cars of the same market price, since the cost to own can be the deciding factor of which car is more expensive.
Autocheck vehicle history report. Kelley Blue Book is best known for this feature along with the ability to determine the going rate of a car's market value. Autocheck is a partner with Kelley Blue Book, helping prospective used car buyers do background research on a used or pre-owned vehicle to determine the vehicle's history. This feature helps buyers avoid pitfalls by finding any accident reports, criminal activity or unreported title brands.
Kelley Blue Book also offers expert and consumer vehicle reviews and ratings. Kbb.com also features numerous awards and top 10 lists.
Bonus services include credit checks, car insurance information, and vehicle history reports.
If you are selling a car, there are four different packages for placing a used car ad on Kelley Blue Book. Available packages are dependent on your location, but basic options are:
Looking up car listings on KBB.com has one feature that could be improved: the cars should be listed separately, as both are currently mixed together. This occurs throughout the site and can be tedious at best and confusing at worst.
As highly regarded as the KBB website is, the iPhone and iPad apps fall way short of its expectations. With only a one star rating, customers have more than their share of negative feedback. A few harsh critiques:
The app is extremely slow and can lag or jump around. For instance, when selecting the choice of car, it will jump back to various different prompt screens (what make of car, body style, etc.) and then return to the screen you're supposed to be on.
Since they redesigned the app, the ease of use has become intolerable compared to the previous version. It now takes longer to view your desired car due to the additional steps to get to the car.
The Android app isn't much better. With only three stars, it is riddled with the same issues as the Apple version.
Customers complain that it takes way too long to find what they are looking for—along with a myriad of technical issues. Regarding these app issues, being that many car dealers use this app, it would behoove KBB to fix any bugs or technical issues to maintain good relationships and continued trust in their brand. The standard Blue Book Value feature is fast and easy; however, clicking through to the results can be a bit confusing, as the page is very crowded and one has to scroll down to finally see the price chart for the specified vehicle. The page could be made cleaner with fewer components.
Very helpful information; reliable; sometimes a bit difficult to understand information
I always like to refer to the Kelley Blue Book when buying a new or used car. The car reports they provide can informational and serve as a fact check when buying a used car.
I like KBB for reviews and car values but as an actual car finder, I tend to go elsewhere.
I've used Kelley Blue Book in the past for reviews and to evaluate pricing or value of some of my own vehicles. Great information and service.
Kelly blue book has always been my GO-TO anytime i am looking to buy or sell a car. They give good accurate estimates on values of any car.
I pulled my Kelley Blue book value recently and it was helpful in selling my car at a reasonable price. This is a very good resource when car shopping and selling a car.
KBB has always been easy and user friendly to help in finding values of vehicles we have been interested in.
I appreciate that there is a reliable source where I can go to determine the fair value of a car I am either selling or purchasing. I use Kelley Blue Book every time I buy or sell. I only use their free service.
Very trusted name in valuation of cars whether you are buying or selling. It's a little cumbersome to put in all of the specific info that they want but in the end you get a more accurate picture of the car you want to buy or sell.
When ever we are looking for a car we always look here for the car value. It is a little tricky to navigate but it is very helpful.
Kelley Blue book is a great reliable service for assessing the value of a car and reading reviews.
Do not use this KBB service for any offers for them to buy your vehicle, it's a complete waste of your time WAY WAY low your could get more if you sold your car for scrap. I have a 2000 jeep Wrangler they offered 5100.00 what a joke.
Kelly Blue Book is the best website out there. Their website is so easy to use and people friendly.
I used Kelly blue book to sell and purchase my last two cars! My experience has been great and the process is simple. They guarantee the best price!
I've used kelley blue book a couples of times to decide if i should buy a vehicle or not and it is pretty accurate on what the price is
Good information about cars, has helped me when I was looking for a vehicle to buy
Super helpful When selling your car, also when buying from a private store couldn’t do it without Kelly
It has helped me to find the value of my vehicle and to compare several ones that i am looking at. I like it.
I just sold one of our cars and I wouldn’t have known what it was worth with our Kelley blue book. This helped me save time on doing some research and helped me list the car fast and easy.
My family often buys used cars and we use Kelley Blue Book all the time. We are very impressed by the listings on the website as well as the reasonable pricing available to users.
Kelley Blue Book is our go to website to value our cars to decide if they are worth fixing or if it's time to move on. Also, to give us a basis for a price to sell OR to buy a used car. The reviews available are very well written and helpful. You can also view used cars for sale and I like how those are presented. One thing they show on the intro page is the exterior and interior color--this is nice for me because I care about the interior color and on most sites I have to click on that car to find the interior color, so it saves search time for me to have that noted on the scrolling page. Very useful site!
I always use Kelley blue book when I’m selling or buying a car and it is so helpful to get a range of what prices should be.
I have used Kelley Blue Book many times to look for cars and see what is out there. They are a trusted name that is always a good indication of what the price should be. It also can be customized to meet my search requirements. It is the one I trust the most.
I always use Kelly Blue Book when looking to buy or sell a car. Great information.
I recently bought a truck and I used Kelley Blue book to aid me in getting the best deal possible. I found the truck I wanted and the seller was asking way too much and I was able to get the price to come down due to Kelley Blue Book. Website is very user friendly and getting the value of a vehicle was very easy to do.
There website is very easy to use and very helpful when you are selling a car. Very easy to read
Kelley blue book is my first go-to resource when buying vehicles. Cars are investments and this tool makes it easy for me to make those investments properly. Always know what your car is worth!
This is really helpful towards how much worth I should be valuing my car before going to the dealership to do a trade or know around how much you should put your car for sale.
I used Kelly Blue Book a lot when I was selling my car. I really enjoy the fact you can add a lot of detail into your features and get a great range of what your car is worth. It made it a lot easier when listing a price. I will definitely continue to use it in the future
Kelly Blue Book helped me buy my last car. Its not that I found the car through them but the site allowed me to know the value of the used car I was buying. Thanks to Kelly Blue Book I got the car for a few hundred bucks under market value.
Kelly blue book helped us when we were shopping for a used car. We almost bought a car but before I wanted to check the KBB. good thing I did because the car was way over priced so we backed out. if it wasn't for KBB we would of probably got the car and been upside down
Kelley Blue Book is always easy to use and an absolute must when car shopping. It gives great information that will help you in choosing a great car.
Kelley is the standard for understanding car value. The site is a little difficult to navigate at first. The detail it requires is a lot. But once you get through that it is a wealth of information.
Very helpful for getting further details on cars before making a decision. Easy website to use as well with useful filtering options.
Recently needed to both sell and buy a car. Kelly Blue Book was the main driver between setting our prices, and was very easy and convenient to use. Very reliable and trustable to know the actual value for our cars.
I always use KBB before buying or selling any car. Their estimates always give me a good ballpark idea on what a fair price is for any vehicle. I will never purchase a car without using it.
Kelley Blue Book is a must if you are buying or selling a car. The pricing tool gives competitive prices for the make and model in your area. I have used it while buying and selling cars.
Used KBB for the purchase or sale of all of my vehicles. Helps me understand more about the vehicle and gives a good ball park of the value.
Very user friendly and seems to be very informative. I don't like that it links to dealerships pretty quickly, but I know that's a way for them to get money. I wish it was a little more detailed as I do think there are more items that go on cars, but it's a minor detail.
I can depend on KBB for reliable information when I'm buying and selling cars. KBB's website is user-friendly and provides meaningful information for my needs.
I use this service whenever am going to purchase a car. It is very helpful in estimating the value of my car or the car I am purchasing.
Our family has relied on the Kelley Blue Book to buy and sell cars.
Whenever I have a question about the value of my car I go to Kelly Blue Book. They are the source for up to date information.
Makes it so easy to find a car online and to be able to compare pricing!
Blue book is useful for looking for cars and for selling them. It shows you how much the car is worth and that is very helpful.
Kelley Blue Book is the standard for Car pricing. I trust them and will always use it when buying or selling a car.
I have relied on your service for years and have now taught my sons how to get good information from Kelley either before buying or selling a car. What an invaluable service you provide!
I use KBB often and have been able to negotiate good prices for vehicles for either buying or selling.
I used Kelley Blue Book when I was searching for a used car. I really trusted their opinion when valuing cars I was looking at.
Great way to find correct prices for cars. I make sure to always check the blue book value before making any decisions. Great and accurate resource.