And the Winner Is ...


Fall 2017

Among the auto industry’s most celebrated accolades, the Kelley Blue Book® Awards have a long history of sound judgment.

Today, Kelley Blue Book is recognized as one of the leading authorities on automotive value. Like many who know their business, though, the organization started in the industry on the ground floor: The Kelley Kar Company began as three used vehicles that Les Kelley had restored and parked for sale on a small, leased lot in Los Angeles in 1918.

Les Kelley and his brother, Buster, built the world’s largest used-car business.
Les Kelley and his brother, Buster, built the world’s largest used-car business.

As business expanded, Les hired his younger brother, Buster, and they would eventually build the world’s largest used-car business. Early on, Les also created a list of prices that he believed were fair for the vehicles he wanted to buy and resell. People respected the judgment of the preacher’s son, who was a talented auto mechanic and salesman. Les Kelley’s list quickly made the rounds among dealers and bankers across America. In 1926, it was published as the Motor Car Blue Book Values – the original Kelley Blue Book

For the first time, here was accurate, trustworthy information to judge a vehicle’s value. Fast-forward more than 90 years, and that fundamentally innovative premise hasn’t changed. “Kelley Blue Book has [long] been the place to start a conversation; it’s a reference source of quality information for people to buy and sell vehicles with transparency, which builds trust in the transaction,” says Mike Sadowski, vice president of operations and general manager for Kelley Blue Book.

Mike Sadowski, vice president of operations and general manager for Kelley Blue Book.
In 1926, the original Kelley Blue Book was published as the Motor Car Blue Book Values.

In 1995, the “book” moved online, to – the most widely searched third-party comparison-shopping website. Twenty million people visit each month to check out vehicle reviews and buying guides, valuation calculators and research tools (like searchable vehicle history reports) and much more.

Kelley Blue Book, which provides in-depth evaluation and ratings of vehicles for consumers, is also a trusted source for vehicle awards. Top awards recognize automotive brands and vehicles for Brand Image, 5-Year Cost to Own, Best Resale Value, Best Family Cars, Best Auto Tech and the year’s Best Buys.

Kelley Blue Book Awards are awards that matter to consumers,” says Sadowski, adding that they help form a complete picture of a vehicle – what it’s like to buy, own and the potential value it has over time. 

The criteria for determining winners are extremely rigorous. In-house teams of automotive experts, data analysts and editors compile data and road-test hundreds of new vehicles every year. They pore over reams of data and reviews from and rely on extensive data meta-analyses to arrive at the best-of-the-best in various categories. 

The Brand Image Awards, for instance, are driven by an in-depth analysis of multiple factors. To crown the Most Trusted Brand, analysts relied on Kelley Blue Book Strategic Insights’ Brand Watch™ online tracking study of 12,000-plus shoppers on The study reveals brand loyalties and familiarity as well as key considerations affecting new-car purchasing decisions. To win Best Overall Brand, a vehicle requires outstanding average scores for affordability, driving comfort, driving performance, durability and reliability, exterior styling, fuel efficiency, interior layout, reputation, ruggedness, safety and technology. The 5-Year Cost to Own Award identifies cars and trucks that don’t necessarily have the lowest purchase price, yet end up being the cheapest to own after factoring in depreciation, fuel, financing and insurance (costs that vary widely between vehicles). New-car buyers can actually save a bundle by considering the full cost of owning a car instead of “getting stuck” on the sticker price.

Best Overall and Most Trusted Brand

Repeat Kelley Blue Book award wins reflect the collective wisdom that certain vehicles hold their value better than others, says Sadowski. “When [a manufacturer] wins again and again, it resonates widely.”

Subaru is Kelley Blue Book’s

  • Most Trusted Brand
  • Best Overall Brand
  • Lowest Cost to Own1

2017 Kelley Blue Book Brand Image Awards are based on the Brand Watch study from Kelley Blue Book Strategic Insights. Award calculated among non-luxury shoppers. 2017 model-year vehicle’s projected cost to own for the initial five-year ownership period is based on the average Kelley Blue Book 5-Year Cost to Own data which considers depreciation and costs such as fuel and insurance. For more information, visit Kelley Blue Book is a registered trademark of Kelley Blue Book Co., Inc.