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Good as New: 10 Must-Shop CPO Cars

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author photo by Autotrader January 2016

You've probably noticed that many new cars can be rather pricey -- especially as you add options and extras. Of course, that may convince you to start shopping for a used vehicle, but then you might find yourself worried about reliability, out-of-warranty repairs or the possibility that your car will soon look outdated. Fortunately, that's where our latest list comes in.

We've rounded up 10 non-luxury certified pre-owned (CPO) cars that are "good as new" in the sense that they offer a similar look to their brand-new counterparts and the peace of mind that comes from a manufacturer-backed warranty -- essentially everything you'd expect from a new car. Choose one of these vehicles, and most of your neighbors will never know that you bought a used car -- unless you start bragging about all the money you saved.

Of course, there's more to consider than just looks when searching for a good certified pre-owned car. To help you find cars that offer more than just contemporary styling, we set a few ground rules for our latest list of CPO cars, and most of them have to do with keeping out-of-pocket costs down. First, we included cars that are likely to have a retail price of about $35,000 or less (this will vary based on condition and mileage). Next, we included only cars with a manufacturer-backed certified warranty that has a minimum of 5 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage included in the purchase price; this warranty is likely to cover the priciest repairs. Only vehicles with an overall federal government safety rating of four stars or more were included (five stars is the maximum). Finally, after a recent Autotrader poll reported that two-thirds of respondents believe a certified pre-owned warranty deductible should be $50 or less, we decided to use that number as our list's maximum deductible figure. Of course, if you don't mind paying more than that each time you visit your local dealer for warrantied repairs, you have an even broader field to choose from.

Once we narrowed down our list based on the numbers, we simply voted for the cars we've most enjoyed driving and feel are standouts in their class. In alphabetical order, here are 10 certified pre-owned cars that are "good as new."

2014-2015 Chevrolet Impala

There's no doubt that the latest Chevy Impala is the best Chevy Impala in years -- and perhaps even decades. The full-size sedan is more comfortable, more advanced, more attractive and more modern than its predecessor -- and all of that makes it far more desirable, too. Unfortunately, all these improvements have come with an increase in price: The Impala now ranges from $28,000 for a base model to $36,400 for a desirable upscale LTZ version, which includes luxuries, such as a remote starter, keyless ignition and entry, a collision warning system and leather upholstery. The solution? Consider a 2014-2015 Impala with Chevrolet's certified pre-owned warranty, which offers a 1-year or 12,000-mile comprehensive limited warranty and 5 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage from the original sale date. Chevrolet's certified pre-owned program also includes 2 years or 24,000 miles of free scheduled maintenance. Best of all, the average asking price for that certified pre-owned 2014-2015 Impala LTZ we like is just $26,900 on Autotrader -- a steep discount compared to the original MSRP.

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2012-2015 GMC Terrain

The GMC Terrain is a popular crossover that straddles the border between compact and midsize. In terms of interior space, the Terrain seems like a midsize SUV, but it offers the fuel economy of a smaller model thanks to a standard 182-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that returns up to 22 miles per gallon in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. And while pricing ranges from $24,000 for a base-level Terrain to well over $34,000 for a well-equipped Terrain Denali, shoppers interested in a good deal can find one on a certified pre-owned 2012-2015 model (which offers only a few changes compared to a 2016 model, including a slightly revised front fascia and an upgraded nav system). That's because the average certified pre-owned 2012-2015 Terrain is available on Autotrader for just $24,200 -- and many examples at that price range include desirable options that would cost extra on new models, including automatic climate control, GM's IntelliLink infotainment system and safety features, such as forward-collision warning and lane-departure warning. Opt for a 2015 Terrain, and you'll also get built-in Wi-Fi. Icing on the cake is GMC's certified pre-owned program, which offers a 1-year or 12,000-mile limited bumper-to-bumper warranty and 5 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage.

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2011-2014 Honda Odyssey

The Honda Odyssey is one of the most popular minivans on the market -- and anyone who has spent any time driving one will tell you exactly why. Loaded with comfort and convenience features, the Odyssey touts a roomy interior, reasonable pricing, a 5-star National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) safety rating and a powerful yet efficient 3.5-liter V6 under the hood. It's true that the 2014 Odyssey has a few upgrades compared to the older models, but the look isn't dramatically different. If you opt for a 2014-or-newer Odyssey, you can get an impressive array of the latest safety gadgets -- such as a lane-departure warning system, a forward-collision warning system and Honda's LaneWatch blind spot monitoring system -- not to mention a nifty in-car vacuum cleaner in the high-end Touring Elite model. But don't think you have to spend big money for a brand-new Odyssey just to get a great family van: Despite starting prices ranging from $30,300 for a brand-new base model to $45,800 for a Touring Elite, certified pre-owned 2011-2014 Odyssey models are available on Autotrader for an average asking price of just $26,900. Icing on the cake is the fact that these models include Honda's excellent CPO warranty, which offers 1 year or 12,000 miles of comprehensive limited-warranty coverage and powertrain protection for up to 7 years or 100,000 miles from the original sale date.

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2013-2015 Hyundai Santa Fe

There are a lot of reasons to like the midsize Hyundai Santa Fe crossover, which was fully redesigned in 2013. One is its standard 3-row seating, which is an improvement over some rivals that still offer the desirable feature as an option. Another is the powerful 290-hp 3.3-liter V6, which boasts excellent fuel economy figures of 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy. And then there's Hyundai's strong warranty, which offers 5 years or 60,000 miles of comprehensive limited-warranty coverage and 10 years or 100,000 total miles of powertrain protection. That warranty carries over to certified pre-owned models, which also boast a substantial discount: The average asking price on Autotrader for a certified pre-owned 2013-2015 Santa Fe is $26,900, while new models start at $31,500 before options. If you can find one, we'd especially recommend an upscale Santa Fe Limited, which includes a wide range of desirable features, such as heated rear seats, a power lift gate (though you won't get the slick hands-free lift gate unless youy a 2015 model), a backup camera and a 4.5-inch touchscreen audio display.

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2014-2015 Kia Soul

The Kia Soul is one of the quirkiest compact cars around. It also has a good deal of practicality and a reasonable price. At the same time, Kia's certified pre-owned program offers 12 months or 12,000 miles of comprehensive Platinum coverage and 10 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain protection from the car's original sale date. Combine these benefits and you have a real winner, as the average certified pre-owned 2014-2015 Soul -- which touts the same design as the current model and that excellent warranty -- is listed on Autotrader for $15,800. That's a far cry from the new model's MSRP, which ranges from nearly $17,000 to around $22,000 before options -- and it means you'll have more money left over to upgrade to a nicer trim level, such as the Soul Exclaim (!), which includes 18-in alloy wheels, Kia's UVO infotainment system, automatic headlights and a backup camera. Opt for a 2015 model, and you can even get Kia's UVO eServices package, which includes potentially handy features, such as speed alert, curfew alert and geo-fencing.

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2014-2015 Mazda6

As soon as we saw the redesigned 2014 Mazda6, we knew it would be a success. One of the main reasons is the car's sharp new look: The Mazda6 offers a coupelike shape that stands out from all the other family cars on the road. But it's more than just styling: We're also tremendously impressed with available fuel economy numbers that reach as high as 40 mpg and luxurious equipment levels that include items, such as adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane-departure warning, a forward-collision warning system and leather upholstery. We also like the updated infotainment system, which was revised for 2015 to make it easier to use. Unfortunately, getting those items requires spending a little extra money for a well-equipped Grand Touring model, which starts from $31,200 with shipping -- pricey for a midsize car. Instead, we suggest looking for a certified pre-owned model on Autotrader, where the average price of a 2014-2015 Mazda6 Grand Touring is just $24,200. That's a big discount from new -- and it's an enticing figure when you consider that it includes Mazda's 1-year or 12,000-mile comprehensive vehicle limited warranty and 7-year or 100,000-mile powertrain coverage that starts from the car's original sale date.

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2014-2015 MINI Cooper

The MINI Cooper fits the textbook definition of hot hatchback, as it touts a practical hatchback body style, impressive handling and lively acceleration -- especially if you opt for the sporty Cooper S or John Cooper Works models. It also boasts a luxurious interior, impressive fit and finish that rivals some luxury-car brands and a reassuring 4-star NHTSA crash-test rating. The only problem: Pricing can get high, as the MINI Cooper offers a lot of enticing options. While base prices range from around $21,700 for a standard Cooper to $31,700 for a John Cooper Works model, it's easy to see those figures increase by 20 or 30 percent if you aren't careful with extras. That's where MINI's certified pre-owned plan comes in, as it offers well-equipped MINI models at a good discount from their original MSRP -- and with a limited warranty that lasts for up to 6 years or 100,000 miles. You can even get certified pre-owned versions of the 2014-2015 MINI Cooper -- which boasts the model's brand-new styling -- for an average price of around $25,300 on Autotrader.

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2013-2014 Nissan Pathfinder

The Nissan Pathfinder is an excellent crossover that boasts a smooth ride, standard 3-row seating, a fuel-efficient V6 engine and a lot of desirable options and features. Redesigned in 2013 to leave behind its truck-based platform in favor of a more maneuverable car-based design, the Pathfinder also ranges in price from around $30,700 to more than $42,500 with shipping. Although those are big numbers for many drivers interested in a family SUV, Nissan's certified pre-owned program is here to help make the Pathfinder a little more affordable. In addition to offering powertrain warranty coverage that lasts for up to 7 years or 100,000 miles, Nissan's CPO program boasts good discounts compared to buying a brand-new model. The average certified pre-owned 2013-2014 Pathfinder, for instance, is available on Autotrader for around $26,500 -- not bad when you consider that it offers the latest design and a long, manufacturer-backed warranty. Since the Pathfinder was completely redesigned for 2013, expect to see a lot of well-cared-for lease returns as 2016 wears on and those 36-month lease terms come to an end.

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2013-2015 Subaru BRZ

The Subaru BRZ is one of the most exciting sports cars on the market, thanks to excellent steering and handling, a well-balanced chassis, a rev-happy 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution. But it isn't only the sports-car aspect of the BRZ that we love: There's also a standard center-mounted touchscreen with smartphone integration and a navigation system, along with standard bi-xenon headlights and a reassuringly perfect 5-star NHTSA crash-test rating. And while new BRZ models start at a reasonable $26,400 with shipping, we think certified pre-owned versions are an even better deal: In addition to touting Subaru's excellent 7-year or 100,000-mile CPO powertrain warranty with no deductible, the average certified pre-owned 2013-2015 BRZ is available on Autotrader for just $23,700 -- a noticeable discount compared to a new BRZ.

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2011-2014 Toyota Tundra

The 2011-2014 Toyota Tundra is an excellent full-size pickup that offers an enormous array of body styles, trim levels and powertrain choices. We prefer the truck's extended-cab (dubbed Double Cab) or crew-cab (dubbed CrewMax) versions, as they offer extra practicality, and we like the truck's optional 5.7-liter V8, which is among the most muscular powerplants in the pickup segment. Regardless of which engine or body style you get, however, we suspect you'll appreciate the Tundra's brawny styling, roomy cabin and notorious reliability. Opt for a 2014 Tundra, and you'll also get Toyota's excellent Entune infotainment system and a few cosmetic updates over earlier model years -- though newer models will come at a price premium that might make a new truck seem more appealing. Used and certified Toyota pickups are popular and command a price premium no matter where you're shopping; the newer the truck you get, the less money you'll save. Still, any certified 2011-2014 Tundra offers a good deal compared to a brand-new model. We say that because certified pre-owned 2011-2014 Tundra models are available on Autotrader for an average price of just $33,800 -- a big discount when you consider that a new Tundra can sell for anywhere between $31,300 and $55,000 depending on options. Certified Tundra models also include the brand's excellent CPO warranty, which offers 1 year or 12,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage from the day you buy it and 7 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage from the truck's original sale date.

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For more information on automaker certified pre-owned programs or to search for your next CPO car, click here.

Looking for a luxury car?  Check out our 10 Must-Shop CPO Luxury Cars.

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Used 2015 Chevrolet Impala LTZ
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Certified 2015 Chevrolet Impala LTZ
Certified 2015 Chevrolet Impala
$21,992
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Used 2015 Chevrolet Impala LT
Used 2015 Chevrolet Impala
$17,983
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Used 2015 Chevrolet Impala LTZ
Used 2015 Chevrolet Impala
$15,750
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.
Good as New: 10 Must-Shop CPO Cars - Autotrader