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7 Great CPO Compact Cars for Under $15,000

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author photo by Doug DeMuro January 2016

If you're interested in a good compact car, you'll probably find that a $15,000 budget restricts you to only the most basic new models on sale today. But if you're willing to consider a certified pre-owned (CPO) model, your options expand greatly. Yes, certified pre-owned vehicles are used cars, but unlike a typical used car, they include the additional peace of mind that comes with a manufacturer-backed warranty. And while certified pre-owned cars aren't brand-new, they're close, and they offer a sharp discount compared to new pricing. To help you with your search, we've listed seven of our favorite compact cars you can buy today with a certified pre-owned warranty for around $15,000 or less.

2013-2015 Dodge Dart

The Dodge Dart is a popular compact sedan that offers handsome styling and a lot of technology. While new Dart models start from $17,500 and can easily top $20,000 with desirable options, certified pre-owned Darts are easy to find with a much better deal. We say that because there are currently nearly 500 different Dart models listed on Autotrader for under $15,000 with Dodge's certified pre-owned warranty, which offers up to 7 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain protection from the original sale date. Our only complaint is that the warranty includes only 3 months or 3,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage, though drivers can buy additional coverage if they choose.

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2013-2015 Honda Civic

The Honda Civic is a desirable compact car offered in sedan or coupe body styles. While new Civic models can be pricy, starting around $19,500 with shipping, used models offer a better deal, especially if you choose a certified pre-owned 2013-2015 Civic, which includes Honda's excellent 7-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty and an additional year or 12,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage. And given that there are nearly 900 certified pre-owned 2013-2015 Civic models on Autotrader for around $15,000 or less, you should have no trouble finding the one you want. We especially recommend the EX-L version, which touts automatic headlights, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power sunroof and alloy wheels.

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2012-2015 Hyundai Elantra

A certified pre-owned 2012-2015 Hyundai Elantra is one of the best buys on the market. One reason is, of course, the fact that it's an excellent car. The Elantra offers swoopy styling, up to 40 miles per gallon and -- if you go for the Limited model -- leather upholstery, 17-inch alloy wheels, a power sunroof and more. But the real benefit of a certified pre-owned 2012-2015 Elantra is its amazing warranty. There are currently around 1,700 examples listed on Autotrader for under $15,000, each of which comes with Hyundai's 5-year or 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and 10 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage -- one of the best certified pre-owned warranties in the industry.

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2012-2015 Kia Soul

The Kia Soul is a compact car like no other. Instead of traditional hatchback or sedan styling, the Soul is a tall-roofed hatchback -- a 5-door model that offers an unusual profile and a commanding view of the road. Combine its attention-grabbing design with excellent practicality, and the Soul stands out as one of our favorite compact cars. That's especially true if you consider a 2012-2015 Soul with Kia's certified pre-owned warranty, which offers 1 year or 12,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage and up to 10 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain protection from the original sale date. While there are more than 400 different certified pre-owned 2012-2015 Soul models listed on Autotrader for under $15,000, we especially recommend looking for 2014 or 2015 Soul, as it offers an updated design and additional equipment and options over earlier models.

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2012-2015 Mazda3

The Mazda3 is one of the best compact cars on sale, as it combines a sharp driving experience with attractive styling and a long list of available equipment -- some of which isn't usually seen on a compact car. Of course, a certified pre-owned 2012-2015 Mazda3 also comes with the brand's CPO warranty, which touts an excellent 7 years or 100,000 total miles of powertrain coverage. If you're interested, we especially recommend looking for a 2014 or 2015 Mazda3, as that version is newly redesigned with additional features and an improved interior. But just about any one of the 450 different certified pre-owned 2012-2015 Mazda3 models listed on Autotrader for under $15,000 will likely be a rewarding purchase for years to come.

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2012-2013 MINI Cooper

By now, everyone knows the MINI Cooper -- a cool, stylish hatchback with go-kart-like handling and a unique, exciting interior. Most people also know that the MINI Cooper is pricy. It starts around $21,500 with shipping, and upscale models can easily top $40,000 after options. The solution? Go for a certified pre-owned Cooper, which comes with 6 years or 100,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper warranty protection from the original sale date. There are only about 50 for sale nationwide within our budget, so you may have to search for the right one, but given the MINI's excellent driving experience and the standout styling, we think it's worth the trouble.

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2014-2015 Toyota Corolla

If you're interested in a compact car, you're undoubtedly familiar with the Toyota Corolla -- a small sedan with a roomy interior, notorious durability and good fuel economy. While new Corolla models exceed our budget, Toyota's certified pre-owned program makes the popular model far more affordable. There are currently around 950 different certified pre-owned 2014-2015 Corolla models listed on Autotrader for under $15,000 with the brand's warranty, which touts 1 year or 12,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage and 7 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain protection. While the Corolla may not be the most exciting model on this list, its impressive reliability is far more important than driving pleasure for a wide range of car owners.

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Used 2015 Dodge Dart
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
7 Great CPO Compact Cars for Under $15,000 - Autotrader