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.
Kelley Blue Book saved me on a trade-in when I got my new truck back in 2016. A car salesmen tried to cut me out of my trade by trading my old car for way less than it was worth. I showed him the Kelley Blue Book price and he bumped it back up.
their website is super helpful, I just wish they wouldn't call me 20 times after using it.
Kellie blue book helped me sell my old truck for a great price and helped me get a good price on a new one.
Gives good rates on cars. I would rather cars to be given lower prices so I could own a newer car that would make me look cool, but it’s okay.
I use Blue Book all the time to get an accurate idea of what my vehicles are worth before trading. It is simple to you and one of the industry standards. Really helps to use before you go shopping.
Have relied on them for car pricing for many years, both in buying and selling. I found them very accurate
I feel Kelly Blue Book is easy to navigate and offers accurate quotes on vehicle prices and more! We’ve always turned here when buying or selling a vehicle.
I always use Kelly Blue Book when I am looking for a new car. They give me a great amount of information and i trust the brand.
Very informative. Have used their website multiple times for assistance in looking at cars.
Used Kelly Blue Book car finder to identify where the cars were in town that I was interested in looking at.
some options are confusing. Need more information per option
Good selection, great filters, excellent images. I used this site to compare cars to see if I should keep my car or buy another used one.
I used to buy a pickup it was a hard to find Toyota Tundra and they have them all around me
They gave me the State Farm as the best cheapest one to call. The girl there was courteous and knowledgable
Great couldn't ask for anything better service refer a friend and do fourth
Quick and easy to understand ! Very dependable and reliable!
Kelly Blue Books helped me know the value of the car that I was trading in. This allowed me to make an educated decision if I should trade my car into the dealership.
It was good, i found that some prices were not accurate (a little high), but for the most part it was a great researching tool.
Great everything listed was accurate just as the website stated the car price was spot on
Kelly Blue Book was super helpful when I was trying to determine a fair price to purchase my Subaru for. I felt so much more confident going into the dealership knowing the value of the vehicle I wanted to purchase. Highly recommend before car shopping!
Informative reviews and substantive information about reviewed automobiles
Great website for finding the fair market value of your or another vehicle
EASY TO USE. BEST RESEARCH TOOL AVAILABLE. pRINT OUT YOUR FINDINGS AND BRING THEM TO YOUR DEALER NEGOTIATION
Great and accurate information provided about all vehicles.
This is where I go to do side by side comparisons.
Very Satisfied. Checked on my 2017 mini and also Chrysler van.
Great stuff and prices my friends and family have used then and are very happy with their service and I am 2
Nice and easy. I also trust it do to it's long standing business presence.
laura k pittman
they can give you and idea of what your car is valued at for a trade in or selling your car.
User friendly website. Easy to navigate and narrow down the search.
Befpre we look for a vehicle we always check with Clue Cook
Have always had pretty accurate ratings and price company
Alright. I just used it to compare prices with variou dealers
I researched different models and from that chose a good qtcar
This web-site and previous publication used to be the staple of used car values in the marketplace, now it is a used car sales site, which is difficult to navigate. I ended up calling several Dealerships to determine the value of my used car.
I have utilized KBB online to help me when I have sold and searched for cars and it has helped me in doing both by providing me some knowledge ahead of time to make informed decisions.
KBB is the first place we look to find the value on our cars. It is nice to have an online resource we can use.
Really the original and best car buying/selling appraisal website. I’ve never bought or sold a car without consulting KBB, and will continue to use the website in the future.
Most reliable source. I would not ever use anything else to know what my car is worth or what the car I'm buying is worth. 10/10 recommend
Kelley Blue Book is a good resource to determine car value and comparison tool. You may need to make adjustments for the area where you live.
I like KBB for reviews and car values but as an actual car finder, I tend to go elsewhere.
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.
Very helpful information; reliable; sometimes a bit difficult to understand information
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.