Friday, November 20, 2015

Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards Winners and Drive Event #KBBBestBuy

This post is sponsored by iConnect Influencer Management and Kelley Blue Book. While travel expenses are provided, all opinions remain my own.

Last week I was able to spend a couple days in beautiful Newport Beach/Irvine California. Even though I wasn’t there to take in the ocean, weather or the breathtaking sunsets, they were an added bonus.  What I was there for is to promote the 2nd annual Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards (say that 10 times fast). The trip started off with meeting about a dozen fellow bloggers, PR reps and some of the reps from Kelley Blue Book at dinner. We went to an amazing restaurant called Fig & Olive. After that it was back to the hotel for a few hours of sleep and a big day ahead.

It was a full day on Tuesday but it was a blast. We drove to the KBB headquarters and learned a lot. Kelley Blue Book has won the Harris Poll award an impressive four years in a row! Not only are the they the most trusted automotive brand, they are also the most searched automotive brand on Google. They bring in 20 million unique visitors a month! You read that right, 20 million! When we heard that a few of our mouths dropped, and I think all of us were a tad (ok a LOT) jealous of those numbers. With that many new visitors a month, KBB needs to be on their game everyday, and they proved to us that they really are.

Each year KBB looks at 300+ vehicles. They take all those and look at each one narrowing that list down little by little leaving us with in their opinion is the best car in each class. They look at every facet of the car, even warranty options, “5-Year Cost-to-Own data (which includes depreciation, insurance, maintenance, financing, fuel, fees and taxes for new cars).” They want to make sure we the consumer know everything about the car before the purchase.

Buying a new car is a huge decision. It’s not like which box of cereal you should try this week. It’s a car, truck, van, SUV. It should not only fit your budget but also your lifestyle. If you have 5 kids and 3 are still in car seats, you aren’t going to want a sedan. You are probably going to want an SUV with a third row and lots of cargo room. The Best Buy Awards in my opinion were designed to help us more than to help boost the manufacturer of the vehicle that won.  

KBB demonstrated their review techniques with us on a beautiful 2016 Volvo XC90. There is no doubt why this model was in the luxury SUV category. Each member of the KBB team has their own approach to look at the vehicle. While they do have a formal “checklist”, each member of the teach has made their own to fit their review technique. Personally I love this approach, as we all look at vehicles in a different way. There can be many people looking at a back seat and think completely different based on their background and what they are looking for in a vehicle. Once each member is done they all get together and discuss everything. It was really neat to hear some of the team members say what they liked. One mentioned how he liked a vehicle that he would sit in the seat behind the driver’s seat (set at his adjustments) and still be comfortable. I come from a family of tall people, so I can relate to that big time. Part of the criteria includes:

• Driving dynamics
• Parking
• Vehicle controls and infotainment systems
• Interior and cargo space
• Exterior design
• Safety
• Towing and hauling

After that we all jumped into some cars to go on the first “leg” of the drive. This was with one of the team members. We went on the same course that they take all the vehicles on. This includes side city streets, highway, parking lots that have speed bumps and of course a parking garage. Myself and friend blogger Shannon were in the Honda Pilot for this first leg and actually decided to have her drive it for the second leg. Since the winners of the awards have already been announced I can say that this vehicle did win in the Mid-Size SUV/Crossover category. I can see why it did. It really is an awesome car. It’s a little blurry from the picture but if you need to take your hands off the wheel for a few seconds the car can follow the road when you set it, but please only for a few seconds. This isn’t for long periods of time. It’s a small feature but one that I personally loved (2 prong plug in). Being the passenger in most of our vehicles I work in the car a lot, so being able to just plug my laptop in is awesome and not having to find a adapter is even better.

We all kind of followed each other in on the same routes as we had check points. This was to give us a chance to see our settings (the gorgeous Pacific Coast Highway) and to trade vehicles as well. I had never been on this stretch of the PCH so it was all new to me. At one point we stopped at Dana Point Harbor where we had a chance to really look at all the vehicles lined up and see how car seats fit into then, strollers and just the normal everyday items that we put in our vehicles.

KBB spends a full year looking at all these cars making sure the reviews are done correctly and nothing is missed. I’m sure you are wondering what vehicle out of 300 won the best of the best. Here you go:

2016 Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Award Winners

Overall Winner: 2016 Honda Civic
The venerable Honda Civic has been completely redesigned for 2016, and the compact car segment will never be the same.  Stylish, refined and tech-savvy, sporting a powerful and efficient new powertrain, the wholly impressive and downright desirable new Civic is nothing less than the best car you can buy for under $20,000, and this year’s Overall Best Buy.

Small Car: 2016 Honda Civic
Last year’s Small Car Best Buy Award winner was completely redesigned for 2016, and took this year’s trophy even more convincingly.  With a sharp new look, class-above interior, impressive new powertrain and cutting-edge technology, the wholly rethought Civic is the best of the class by a long shot.

Mid-Size Car: 2016 Kia Optima
After years of winning fans with its sharp style, premium features and solid value, a full redesign for 2016 has catapulted the Kia Optima past some truly great automobiles to claim this year’s Mid-Size Car Best Buy Award.

Full-Size Car: 2016 Chevrolet Impala
Chevy’s famously roomy, comfortable, affordable sedan is much more than that today.  The latest iteration is also stylish inside and out, offers a long list of in-car technologies including Apple CarPlay and wireless phone charging, and balances smooth highway ride with responsive handling.

Luxury Car: 2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Last year’s redesign elevated the Mercedes-Benz C-Class to Luxury Car Best Buy status, and nothing could take it away this year.  The distinctive design gets even more appealing with time, while the polished interior and surprisingly dynamic driving experience feel equally timeless.

Sports/Performance Car: 2016 Chevrolet Corvette
An unmatchable mix of performance and price has always been the Corvette’s trump card, but impressive fuel economy and resale value strengthen its case as the Best Buy in fun.

Electric/Hybrid: 2016 Chevrolet Volt
Another 2015 Best Buy that was completely redesigned for 2016, the second-generation Chevy Volt complements greater battery range and improved performance with sleeker styling, more features, and even-more-attractive pricing.

Small SUV/Crossover: 2016 Honda CR-V
The Honda CR-V is the best-selling SUV in the country, one of our 10 most awarded vehicles of the past year, and now it’s been named a Kelley Blue Book Best Buy two years in a row.  Effortless driving manners, a roomy interior, and a bulletproof reputation for reliability continue to set the CR-V apart.

Mid-Size SUV/Crossover: 2016 Honda Pilot
After shining brightest in our midsize SUV comparison test earlier in the year, with a compelling combination of utility, comfort, features and price, none of our editors were surprised when the totally redesigned 2016 Honda Pilot also claimed this year’s Mid-Size SUV/Crossover Best Buy Award.

Full-Size SUV/Crossover: 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe
The Chevy Tahoe is far and away the best-selling vehicle in the segment, and its unique combination of style, comfort, economy and value has earned it Kelley Blue Book Best Buy honors for the second year in a row.

Luxury SUV/Crossover: 2016 Lexus RX
The Lexus RX isn’t just the best-selling model in the Lexus lineup, it's the best-selling luxury SUV in America.  Buyers find great value in the comfortable, reliable, desirable RX, and a complete redesign for 2016 has helped it earn this year’s Luxury SUV/Crossover Best Buy Award.

Truck: 2016 Ford F-150
Radically redesigned for 2015 with an aluminum-intensive architecture and an expanded lineup of powerful, efficient turbocharged V6 engines, the latest F-150 enters its second model year boasting best-in-class towing, payload and fuel economy, and now back-to-back Best Buy trophies.

Minivan: 2016 Honda Odyssey
Combining superior flexibility, unmatched practicality and renowned refinement, the Honda Odyssey remains the minivan of minivans and a repeat Best Buy Award winner.

I want to give a HUGE thank you to everyone at Kelley Blue Book for taking the time to host us and share their knowledge, and of course for letting us “borrow” their cars. I will be sharing even more pics on Instagram, so go check them out.  Make sure you follow them at www.kbb,com, Facebook, Twitter at or YouTube.

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This post is sponsored by iConnect Influencer Management and Kelley Blue Book. While travel expenses are provided, all opinions remain my own.Top Notch Material blog always provides honest opinions, beliefs or experiences on products and services reviewed. If you have any questions or would like your product, service or company featured on Top Notch Material, please contact katrina  from Top Notch Material at katrina dot gehman {at} gmail [dot] com. The disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


  1. Thank you for this- looking for a new car and this was informative!

  2. I was surprised to see some of these picks! Very informative.

  3. I am surprised the Honda Civic won! We're a Cadillac family and I guess I sort of look down my nose at foreign cars. lol

  4. When we find a new car we always check. Kelly blue book.

  5. I have used Kelley Blue Book for knowing the trade in value of my car, and for knowing the value of a new car. It is a great site that has saved me money time and time again. I can't believe they get 20 million unique visits a month. That is crazy! I love that they give out "best of" awards. I am surprised I had not heard this before.

  6. i have ford pickup and then it only for me but i have the back seat the bacck for the kdis

  7. I have my eyes on a new honda civic!

  8. It's always good to have some extra knowledge before jumping right in to a big decision like this.

  9. Wow you had a busy weekend, thanks for the information :)

  10. That is a nice car. Gosh it would be nice to have a nice new car. Thanks for the info.