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Top 20 CPO Programs for 2015

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author photo by Doug DeMuro March 2015

If you're looking to buy a new car without spending new-car prices, we strongly suggest that you consider a certified pre-owned (CPO) model. Certified pre-owned programs offer manufacturer-backed warranties on nearly new vehicles, often at sharp discounts from the car's original price. And in addition to the warranty, you'll have the advantage of a vehicle that was inspected by the manufacturer before its certification was allowed; not every used car that shows up at a dealership receives certification. But which program is the best? We've spent a lot of time researching them all, and we've concluded that these are the 20 best programs available today.

1. Top Program: Porsche

Porsche's certified pre-owned program is easily the best in the industry. Like many luxury-car certified pre-owned programs, it offers 6 years or 100,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage for any vehicle that's still under factory warranty. But if a used car's factory warranty is expired (4 years or 50,000 miles), Porsche will also offer an additional 2 years or 50,000 miles of coverage. In other words, while Porsche's CPO plan is offered on vehicles up to 6 years old, some certified pre-owned Porsche models can be up to 8 years old and still be covered by the automaker's factory warranty. And there are other benefits, too, including a zero deductible for warranty repairs, full warranty transferability to the next owner, 24-hour roadside assistance and trip interruption coverage.

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2. Lexus

The main reason we like Lexus's certified pre-owned warranty so much is that it covers vehicles for up to 3 years from the date they were purchased, a huge step up over many automaker warranties that start from the original sale date. Lexus's certified pre-owned warranty is also offered on vehicles up to 6 years old, and it tops out at 100,000 miles. That means some Lexus models can still be under warranty after 9 years and 100,000 miles from being new. Lexus's other program benefits include special financing, trip interruption protection and a loaner car, along with no deductible per repair. Why isn't Lexus our top warranty program? It comes close, but it suffers from just one issue: Lexus's CPO warranty isn't transferable to the next owner when the time comes to sell your car.

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3. Volvo

Volvo's certified pre-owned program is highly regarded in the industry, with a warranty that covers vehicles for up to 7 years or 100,000 total miles. In addition, the Volvo CPO warranty is fully transferable, features no deductible and includes special financing. Volvo also offers free roadside assistance, trip interruption protection, trip routing, car theft protection reward and 3 months of free SiriusXM radio.

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4. Hyundai

It's a little-known fact that Hyundai's impressive 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't transfer to the second owner. If you're buying a used Hyundai and you want that warranty, you'll have to get a certified pre-owned model; it's the only way to retain 10 years of full coverage. You'll also get a free Carfax report, the remainder of the brand's 5-year, 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, 3 months of free SiriusXM radio and a rental car reimbursement up to $35 per day. It would be one of the best deals among mainstream-brand CPO warranties, with one exception: Hyundai's warranty includes an annoying, but palatable $50 deductible per visit.

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5. Kia

Much like that of its sister brand Hyundai, Kia's certified pre-owned warranty simply reinstates the original factory warranty that usually disappears when a Kia is sold to second or third owners. While that wouldn't be a big deal in a normal car, it's highly important in a Kia, since the warranty offers 10 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage, one of the best plans in the business. The CPO warranty also comes with 5 years or 60,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper protection from the original date of sale, along with special financing, trip interruption protection, rental car allowance and full transferability to the next owner. The only problem? Kia's warranty also includes a $50 deductible per visit.

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6. Volkswagen

Volkswagen's certified pre-owned warranty is a great one, though it best applies to older models that are already out of their original warranty coverage. That's because it touts 2 years or 24,000 miles of complete, bumper-to-bumper coverage, an excellent figure that's especially impressive if your factory warranty has already expired. Volkswagen also offers special financing rates for certified vehicles and full transferability to future owners.

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7. Jaguar

Like several competitors, Jaguar's certified pre-owned warranty offers up to 6 years or 100,000 miles of coverage, a remarkable feat in itself. But unlike many other luxury car CPO plans, there's no deductible per visit, and Jaguar's warranty is fully transferable to future owners. Jaguar also offers special financing rates, free roadside assistance and trip interruption protection for certified pre-owned vehicles, rounding out the benefits of its excellent warranty.

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8. Land Rover

Land Rover's certified pre-owned warranty plan mirrors sister-brand Jaguar's, which is a good thing for shoppers interested in a comprehensive warranty with excellent terms. Specifically, we're impressed with the program's 6 years or 100,000 miles of coverage because it includes no deductible and offers full transferability to the next owner. We also like the Land Rover's warranty for its special financing rates, free roadside assistance and trip interruption protection, which only enhance its appeal as one of the top CPO plans on the market.

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9. Mini

Like parent brand BMW, Mini's CPO program boasts 6 years or up to 100,000 total miles of coverage from the date the car was originally sold. In addition, the warranty is fully transferable to the car's next owner. Mini also offers special financing rates for certified vehicles and trip interruption coverage. The only drawback? There's a $50 deductible per visit.

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10. Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi's certified pre-owned warranty is surprisingly good. The main reason is warranty length: 5 years or 60,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage from the car's original sale date, along with 10 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain protection. Mitsubishi's certified pre-owned warranty also offers no deductible, which only enhances its status as one of our favorite CPO plans. There are even special financing terms for drivers who choose a CPO Mitsubishi. The only flaw is that Mitsubishi's certified warranty isn't transferable to the vehicle's next owner.

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Good, but Not Ranked

The 10 certified programs listed above are ranked in order, with the best of the best listed first. Our criteria for making this list involved length of warranty coverage, comprehensiveness of coverage, transerability and whether a deductible is required when getting warrantied service. The CPO programs below are still good and are definitely worth checking out when you're shopping for a new or used car. However, we didn't rank them. Many of the programs are similar, and once we got below the top 10, it became nearly impossible to decide, for example, whether Audi's 6 year/100,000-mile warranty with an $85 deductible and $150 transfer fee is better or worse than BMW's 6 year/100,000-mile plan, which has a lower deductible but strict conditions regarding warranty transfers. Depending on your specific habits and needs, those two programs are similar. Here then, in alphabetical order, are the remaining 10 CPO programs in our top 20 list.

Acura

Acura's certified pre-owned program offers only a mediocre bumper-to-bumper warranty of just 1 year or 12,000 miles from the date of purchase. But we're impressed with Acura's powertrain plan, which covers vehicles for up to 7 years or 100,000 miles from the original date of sale, which is an increase of 1 year or 30,000 miles beyond the new-car warranty. Acura also offers no deductible and has a 3-day exchange policy.

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Audi

Audi's certified pre-owned warranty covers vehicles for up to 6 years or 100,000 miles from the date they were first sold, an extension of 2 years or 50,000 miles from the original warranty. That figure is impressive, and we're also impressed with Audi's special financing offers for CPO vehicles, its trip interruption protection and its free loaner car program for certified pre-owned vehicles. Our only complaints: Each service visit has an $85 deductible, which is no small fee, and while the warranty is transferable, doing so requires paying a $150 transfer fee.

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BMW

BMW's certified pre-owned program offers 2 years and 50,000 additional miles of coverage after the original 4-year/50,000-mile warranty expires. That, of course, means 6 years or 100,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper protection, one of the best figures in the industry. And if that's not impressive enough, BMW also offers special finance rates on certified pre-owned vehicles to make its certified used cars even more appealing. But there are a few drawbacks to the BMW program, including a $50 deductible per visit and strict guidelines with regard to transferring the warranty.

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Honda

Honda's certified pre-owned warranty is a good one for two reasons. First, the powertrain plan covers vehicles for up to 7 years or 100,000 total miles, which is 2 years or 40,000 miles beyond the original warranty. And second, unlike many mainstream-brand CPO warranties, Honda's warranty has no deductible per visit. The brand also offers a 1-year or 12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, along with special CPO finance rates and full transferability to the next owner.

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Infiniti

Infiniti's certified pre-owned warranty is a lot like warranties offered by rival luxury brands such as Audi and BMW. That means you'll get 6 years or 100,000 miles of full coverage from the date the car was originally sold, which is an impressive figure in the world of automotive warranties. You'll also get a rental car allowance and trip interruption protection every time your car is in the shop. And if you decide to sell your CPO Infiniti during the certified pre-owned period, the warranty is transferable to one subsequent private owner for a one-time fee of $50. But there is a drawback to Infiniti's certified pre-owned warranty: Every service visit requires a $50 deductible.

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Mazda

Mazda's certified pre-owned warranty is an excellent plan that roughly mirrors some of the best mainstream-brand programs. All certified pre-owned Mazda models get 1 year or 12,000 miles of warranty coverage, and they offer 7 years or 100,000 total miles of powertrain protection. Mazda's certified pre-owned warranty is also fully transferable to the next owner, and it boasts no deductible.

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Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz certified pre-owned warranty is different from most other automaker warranties. The main reason is that it offers just 1 year of coverage from the date you buy the car. While that may not seem like much, there's a silver lining: Your mileage is unlimited, and you can buy additional coverage. Mercedes also offers free loaner cars to CPO customers, a 7-day exchange policy on CPO vehicles, special financing and full warranty transferability. Add it all up, and the Mercedes certified warranty is surprisingly comprehensive.

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Nissan

We like Nissan's 7-year or 100,000-mile powertrain coverage from the original sale date, which adds 2 years or 40,000 miles to the brand's initial warranty. But there's no bumper-to-bumper coverage beyond the factory warranty, which means you could get stuck with an expensive problem on a recently purchased vehicle. Also, every visit requires a $50 deductible. Fortunately, Nissan's CPO warranty ticks all our other boxes. It's fully transferable and the brand offers special financing for CPO vehicles.

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Subaru

Unfortunately, Subaru doesn't offer bumper-to-bumper coverage beyond the initial factory warranty, choosing instead to merely extend the powertrain warranty to 7 years or 100,000 miles. Still, that's a good figure, and we're impressed by the Subaru warranty's other benefits, including its special financing rates, its transferability to the next owner and that it doesn't require a deductible.

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Toyota

We're impressed with Toyota's powertrain coverage of up to 7 years or 100,000 total miles from the original sale date, combined with a bumper-to-bumper warranty covering CPO Toyota models for up to 1 year or 12,000 miles from the date of sale. Toyota's CPO warranty does require a $50 deductible per visit; however, it includes a rental car allowance and offers full transferability to a future owner.

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Editor's Note: This article has been updated with clearer language surrounding deductibles, warranties and service loan cars as well as a correction to the Volvo CPO program description, which offers 7 years or 100,000 miles of coverage, not 6 years as previously stated.

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.
Top 20 CPO Programs for 2015 - Autotrader