Finding the right vehicle to meet your needs is a daunting task in a market with plenty of choices and stiff competition among automakers. That’s where Kelley Blue Book steps in to make that major purchase both well-informed and as easy as possible. It’s in that spirit that we present our annual Best Buy Awards. For eight years now, KBB.com’s experienced editorial staff puts the latest vehicles through their paces to determine which models are tops in their segments. We look for those vehicles that deliver the optimum blend of performance, capability, low operating costs, and affordability.
Whatever your transportation needs, the Best Buy Award program includes categories that represent the wide range of vehicles available on the market today. We consider traditional gas-powered vehicles, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and pure electrics in segments that include compact and midsize cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs. The last two categories continue to expand to include on the SUV side smaller subcompact entries in mainstream and luxury brands, and a new compact pickup award.
As the Market Evolves, So Do We
Also attracting a wider range of competing vehicles is the electric vehicle category, where new, longer-range, and more affordable models are beginning to hit the market. Like the expanding roster of truck and SUV categories, electric vehicles will have a growing impact on the luxury and mainstream market. EVs are also available in a wider range of vehicle types, including compact hatchbacks, luxury sedans, SUVs, and even pickup trucks.
Even as the vehicles under our consideration continue to evolve, what doesn’t change are the criteria Kelley Blue Book editors rely on to help determine which models are eligible for consideration and, ultimately, the awards themselves. At the top of our list are vehicles that combine affordability, low ownership and operating costs, dependability, and reliability. These attributes go hand in hand with vehicles that offer comfort, convenience, the latest in high-tech driver and safety assists, intuitive infotainment, and at the same time are easy and fun to drive. A vehicle that earns a Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Award is certainly one that warrants serious consideration.
How We Do What We Do
Much of the initial information needed to qualify and evaluate vehicles for our annual Best Buy program comes from the vehicles test-driven by KBB editors throughout the year. These opportunities include manufacturer vehicle launches, test vehicle evaluation and video production at our offices, and insights derived from our long-term test fleet.
This extensive hands-on experience with new vehicles provides the basis for our expert reviews, road test videos, Top 10 lists, and comparisons found on KBB.com. Based on this coverage and data gleaned from our resale values and 5-Year Cost to Own data, we determine which all-new or extensively redesigned vehicles we will consider as Best Buy candidates.
The list of participating vehicles is finalized during the summer with testing at our Irvine, California, headquarters starting in September. It’s here where the current category winner is tested side-by-side against the crop of the latest challengers. We evaluate seating comfort, ease and flexibility of getting in and out of the vehicle, the vehicle’s luggage space, along with other creature comforts and infotainment systems.
In addition, we look closely at build quality, cabin materials, and pricing against the competition and expected resale value and operating costs. We also get behind the wheel and test drive the vehicles over a series of loops that involve everyday traffic and road conditions to experience the cars as an owner would. A manufacturer’s reputation for quality, reliability, durability, and various warranties, including bumper-to-bumper and powertrain offerings, also factor in our decision.
For 2022, the Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards go to the best in categories that encompass nearly the entire range of vehicles that meet virtually all automotive needs. We also recognize the Best New Model for 2022. We believe our awards are a powerful tool when it comes to making the right new vehicle choice.