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In order to make the car shopping experience easier and quicker, Kelley Blue Book has introduced its new Trusted Advisor Program which streamlines the shopping and buying process for consumers and dealers alike.

Among the elements in the Kelley Blue Book Trusted Advisor Program are: Dealer differentiator callouts to set participating dealer classified listing apart on KBB.com and sister site, Autotrader.com. The program leverages KBB’s marketing capabilities to announce and support dealers participating in the program with offline and online advertising communications, as well as making a Marketing Assets Web Portal available to dealers for advertising and marketing needs.

The initiative also displays Kelley Blue Book Price Advisor, KBB.com Expert Ratings, Reviews and Award content directly on participating dealer websites, which will provide pricing context and transparency as well as greater site engagement.

Dealers can also take advantage of Kelley Blue Book’s LeadDriver and Instant Cash Offer to engage with potential customers to generate actual offers for vehicles. Inventory Pricing Analysis Reports will also help dealers evaluate their inventory pricing and compare it to prevailing Kelley Fair Market Range, which will enable participants to competitively price their offerings.

Online and printable Kelley Blue Book Price Advisor Reports, with its comprehensive information about vehicles and specific dealer information aids in building consumer trust and confidence in dealers’ vehicles and pricing. Kelley Blue Book will further support the program with comprehensive training and support to help retailers understand and implement the Trusted Advisor Program.

“With the new Trusted Advisor Program, Kelley Blue Book is helping instill confidence at all points in the transaction, so dealers and consumers know they are making the best decision possible during the vehicle selling and buying process,” said Mike Sadowski, general manager for Kelley Blue Book. “The Trusted Advisor Program will create a better environment for negotiating a sale through more transparency in the transaction and the availability of trusted valuation information that is backed by more than 90 years in the automotive industry, all to help move inventory faster and deliver a more enjoyable overall experience.”

Digital retailing grows

Some 85-percent of consumers participating in a study for Automotive News (conducted by DealerRater.com) report that while they have done some research on their purchase online, they have done most of the transaction at the dealership. The flipside, however, is that the 15 percent who did more than just look at vehicles online, but also arranged financing, insurance and other features of the transaction digitally. More than half that number, about 8 percent, actually did everything except sign the final papers electronically.

Among individual brands, those with the highest tech-savvy buyers who did a lot of that heavy lifting online included luxury makes like Cadillac and Infiniti (which recorded 13 and 12 percent respectively), followed by Lexus at 11 percent and Buick and Ram at 10 percent each. This shift towards doing most of the transaction online doesn’t happen in steps, the trade paper said, noting that the survey indicates that those doing it decided to do as much as possible through the web, or not at all. Across the board answers were in the single digits for those who did most of the deal online but still had points to negotiate at the dealership, while the double digit answers indicated that they did the entire deal electronically and only need to come into the dealership to sign the paperwork and take delivery.

2019 Kia Sorento priced

Kia has announced pricing of the 2019 Kia Sorento SUV, which will be offered in five trim levels, L, LX, EX, SX and SX-Limited. The base model L starts at $25,990 for a front-wheel drive model, which is powered by a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. Among the upgrades on the 2019 model is a new 7-inch touchscreen and a revamped 6-speed automatic transmission.

The LX model range starts at $27,490 for front-drive, while the AWD version is $1,800 more. LX models equipped with the 3.3-liter V6 and an all-new 8-speed automatic transmission start at $31,290 for front-drive and $33,090 for all-wheel drive.

EX models have new projection fog lights as well as driver attention warning and lane keeping assist as standard equipment. Pricing begins at $35,590 for front-wheel drive and $37,390 for AWD. The 2019 Sorento SX, which now will have two-way powered lumbar support for the driver, starts at $39,990 for front-drive. Again, AWD is an $1,800 add. The fully loaded SX-Limited is priced at $44,690 for front-drive and $46,490 for AWD. Delivery is $990 extra.

Car production throttle back

Through the first two months of 2018, it appears that manufacturers are looking to pare inventories two ways, the first by continuing hefty rebates on slow selling models, and the second by throttling back on production. Automotive News reports that through March 1, production lags behind last year’s number by more than 80,000 units. If the trend continues, the industry may produce nearly a half million fewer cars in 2018 than they did in 2017.

Lower inventories and shorter supplies could mean less generous incentives over the course of the year.  The reduced output is another factor in last week’s report that showed inventories holding steady at seasonal rates.

The rundown 

The Blue Oval announced its plan for Future Fords that includes more SUVs and electrified vehicles. Get the latest info here.

Volkswagen also has plans for the SUV market by announcing a 2-row version of the VW Atlas. It will reveal a prototype of the new truck during the New York Auto Show.

Speaking of the Big Apple, we will be at the 2018 New York Auto Show bringing you all the major introductions. Check out the latest on our auto show landing page.

In the market for a new car? Explore these useful tips on how to get the best deal: 

What to look for in your next economy car

Kelley Blue Book’s Complete Guide to Incentives

All you need to know about leasing

Which dealer services are right for you

What you need to know about conditional rebates

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