Can you believe it’s almost the end of 2017?! I’ve been traveling so much that the time just flies…I could hardly believe it when I opened my calendar and DECEMBER was staring me in the face. Before we know it, New Year’s Eve will be upon us, which has me thinking about my resolutions. And this year, I have a big one: I want (read, NEED) to buy a new car. Eek!

I have to admit, I find buying a new car super intimidating. What if I buy a lemon? (Been there, done that…unfortunately). What if I test drive every vehicle out there, and hate them all? What if I test drive every vehicle out there…and LOVE them all? And the real question: How do you possibly choose the right car when there are SO MANY choices out there? I was pulling my hair out just thinking about it!

Thankfully, there is a solution which makes car shopping a breeze! Every year, Kelley Blue Book publishes the Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards where they determine the 12 best in class vehicles with one overall winner. Experts analyze pretty much every vehicle on the market to determine the best of the best in terms of price, resale value, functionality, and safety. Did you know they spend an ENTIRE YEAR testing over THREE HUNDRED different cars, vans, trucks, and SUVs before they make their selections? Once they finish test driving all the vehicles (yes, you read that correctly!) the analysts spend an additional six weeks doing side-by-side comparisons to determine the best vehicle in each category, and finally, after the most rigorous of testing, Kelley announces one overall best vehicle winner.

With my busy on-the-go schedule, I would never have the time to put in the research I really need to do before buying a new vehicle, and I am HAPPY to let the experts at Kelley Blue Book do the heavy lifting for me! A quick skim of the Blue Book Awards allows me to focus on my life outside the car and to have more time to plan my travel adventures!

Before heading over to the Kelley Blue Book Award page, I made a quick “wish list” for my new car purchase that includes the following: great gas mileage for all my road trips; ample cargo room for luggage, camera equipment, and my friends (and my super tall husband!); a good navigation system, since despite being a world traveler, I have a terrible sense of direction while driving; and of course, it has to be good looking!  😉

With these requirements in mind, I headed over to the Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards and got going on my search. My current car has been a real trooper, but now that I roadtrip more often, I’ve decided I really need an SUV to help hold my luggage – and travel companions! A quick glance  showed me the top SUVs, ranging in the small to standard sizes, and I decided the two vehicles from the list I would be focusing on would be the Honda CR-V and the Honda Pilot. I’m on the petite side, so I’ve decided to forgo the largest size SUV so I can actually see over the steering wheel.

After comparing the Kelley reviews, it looks like the Honda Pilot will be my best bet. Both the Pilot and the CR-V have very impressive safety ratings and high resale value, but ultimately I think the Pilot, with room for 8 passengers, is what I am looking for so I can include more friends on my travel excursions.

Since I was already checking out the site, I decided to check out the luxury vehicle awards….just for information’s sake, of course. And now I. Am. In. Trouble. Part of what made the Honda Pilot so appealing was the buyer-friendly price tag. As the kind of girl who prefers to spend more on plane tickets than car payments, I was really happy to see that both Honda options were budget friendly, even after you added on the bells and whistles for the navigation system and back up sensor.

But then I saw the Audi Q5 and knew I had to reconsider. More luxurious and fuel-efficient than its predecessor, the Audi Q5  now offers 252-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinders and all-new 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, meaning it goes from 0 mph to 60 mph 1.1 seconds faster than the previous model. Not too shabby for a girl like myself who enjoys some get-up-and-go!

Another awesome feature? A “Virtual Cockpit,” a brilliant 12.3-inch display that can show a traditional gauge set or a full-width map in either a traditional format of with topography sourced by Google Earth, which would be perfect for my off-the- beaten-path adventures.

And …it’s SO PRETTY.

Of course, the luxury and horsepower come with a slightly higher price tag. Hmm… Looks like I’ll have a difficult choice to make before purchasing my new vehicle, but you know what WASN’T difficult? Finding the best vehicles that fit my wish list, budget, and safety requirements using the Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards!

Are you looking for a new vehicle in 2018? If so, what’s on your wish list?!

This post is sponsored by Kelley Blue Book, however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

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