If you’re looking for a new luxury car, you may have already discovered that many upscale new luxury vehicles can be pretty pricey, going well beyond your budget — especially with options. You can always consider a used car, but you might be worried about reliability. For a good compromise, consider a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle — a recent used car with a manufacturer-backed warranty, often at a big discount from the new price. CPO programs also tend to come with extra perks, like a thorough mechanical inspection, a free trial period of satellite radio, or complimentary roadside assistance.
But some CPO programs are better than others — so we’ve researched them all thoroughly, and we’ve created a list of the 10 best certified pre-owned programs among luxury brands (non-luxury “mainstream” brands are listed separately). Luxury car shoppers looking for a good deal AND a decent warranty have many good choices here. In fact, many brands are so close in terms of overall value and excellent terms the best one for you might really depend on the kind of car you want. In addition to our top pick, we’ve also listed nine others that deserve your consideration. (Those others are listed alphabetically.)
Our picks are based on a set of criteria that includes powertrain warranty length (with a minimum of 6 years or 100,000 miles from the purchase date), available inventory, bumper-to-bumper warranty length and additional perks.
Top Choice: Lexus
Lexus’s certified pre-owned program, L/Certified, is the best in the industry among luxury-brand CPO programs. Although Porsche is very close and given that most certified Lexus vehicles will likely sell for a lower price than the average certified Porsche Approved vehicle, L/Certified is clearly the way to go for real luxury on a budget. The main reason is the warranty, which offers unrivalled coverage: 6 years of limited bumper-to-bumper coverage from the original sale date with no mileage limit. Unlimited-mileage warranties are incredibly rare in the car industry, given that some drivers cover serious mileage — but Lexus’s willingness to offer an unlimited mileage warranty shows the brand really stands behind its vehicles. Unfortunately, the Lexus L/Certified warranty is not transferable while many other luxury certified warranties are. Lexus’s certified pre-owned program also touts free maintenance for the next four services (2 years or 20,000 miles) and a loaner car program which is icing on the cake. In addition, there’s a wide variety of Lexus cars and SUV available. Right now, there are more than 7,000 certified Lexus vehicles for sale on Autotrader.
Acura’s certified pre-owned program, called simply Acura Certified, offers excellent coverage to provide you with peace of mind. Like many CPO programs, Acura Certified includes two warranties. The longer of the two is a powertrain warranty, which covers vehicles for up to 7 years or 100,000 miles from the original sale date — a long extension of the original powertrain warranty, which lasts for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Acura’s other warranty is a “non-powertrain” warranty, which covers most other mechanical and electrical components in a vehicle; that warranty extends the original factory 4-year, 50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty by 1 year or 12,000 miles — or, if you purchase your CPO vehicle after the factory warranty has expired, it provides 1 year or 12,000 miles of coverage from your purchase date. Acura’s long-term warranty coverage is easily strong enough to earn it a spot on our list.
Buick’s CPO program is identical to the program offered by Chevrolet and GMC as both brands are under the General Motors umbrella. GM offers the same coverage for Chevrolet, GMC and Buick brands, and it’s rather enticing: All certified pre-owned Buick models offer one year or 12,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper limited coverage that starts from the expiration of the original factory bumper-to-bumper warranty (three years or 36,000 miles), or from the day you purchase the car if the factory warranty has already expired.
Buick’s CPO program also includes powertrain coverage that lasts for six years or 100,000 miles from the original sale date, which is also highly appealing. Certified pre-owned Buick models also include full transferability to subsequent owners and no deductible — a big benefit — and two free maintenance visits for the first two years or 24,000 miles, which is a small perk that improves an already excellent CPO program.
Cadillac’s certified pre-owned program has previously lagged behind the competition, but recent improvements have now made it one of the best in the car industry. Like many others, the main reason for that is the warranty: Cadillac’s certified pre-owned warranty now touts comprehensive bumper-to-bumper coverage for 6 years or 100,000 miles from the original sale date, meaning it has the same excellent coverage as Audi’s warranty. Most importantly, Cadillac’s new CPO warranty is a big upgrade from its previous 6-year or 70,000-mile warranty — and the newest coverage easily earns it a spot on our list.
Infiniti’s certified pre-owned warranty program offers excellent coverage — though that coverage is a bit complicated and depends greatly on the age and mileage of the vehicle you purchase. If you buy a certified pre-owned Infiniti that’s less than 4 years old but with more than 15,000 miles, you get the best coverage: 6 years of bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage with no mileage limit. That mostly matches the excellent CPO coverage provided by our top-rated brand, Lexus, and it’s among the longest CPO warranties in the industry.
But things get a little more complicated if your car falls outside those mileage and age parameters. If you buy a certified pre-owned Infiniti with less than 15,000 miles, you still get 6 years of coverage — but your coverage stops at 75,000 miles. Meanwhile, if you buy a certified pre-owned Infiniti that’s more than 4 years old, you get two years of unlimited-mileage coverage — that’s better coverage than Lexus, as it means you can buy a 5- or 6-year-old car and still get excellent coverage.
One of the Infiniti CPO drawbacks is that it’s a bit complicated to explain. Otherwise, Infiniti’s CPO program is easily among the best in the business — and it also boasts no deductible, adding another reason it’s worth a look if you’re interested in a used car with extra peace of mind.
Jaguar’s certified pre-owned warranty program is excellent, as is the (identical) program offered by sister brand Land Rover. Jaguar’s program offers some of the best warranty coverage in the business, touting 7 years or 100,000 miles of coverage from the original sale date — and it’s not just powertrain coverage, but rather full comprehensive coverage. Better yet, Jaguar’s CPO program has no deductible, and it’s fully transferable to subsequent owners, should you decide to sell your Jaguar while you’re still under CPO warranty coverage. Jaguar’s program offers excellent peace of mind.
Land Rover’s certified program is identical to the program offered by sister brand Jaguar — and that easily makes it one of the best programs in the car industry. The main draw is the warranty, which offers bumper-to-bumper coverage for 7 years or 100,000 miles from the original sale date — longer than nearly every other luxury brand. In fact, that coverage even lasts longer than our top pick, Lexus, though Lexus touts the benefit of no mileage limit. Land Rover’s CPO program also boasts no deductible, and it’s fully transferability to future owners, should you decide to sell your certified pre-owned Land Rover while it’s still under warranty. If you’re concerned about the ownership costs of a used Land Rover, the brand’s CPO program should put your mind at ease.
Lincoln’s CPO program earns an easy spot on our list, as it offers excellent comprehensive warranty coverage for a long term. That coverage lasts for 6 years or 100,000 miles from the original sale date, mirroring some of the best programs on our list. Lincoln’s coverage is also fully transferable to subsequent owners, which is an added benefit, as it’ll add value to your Lincoln should you decide to sell it to someone else before your warranty coverage expires. Our only gripe is the deductible: Lincoln charges $100, while many other automakers have a lower deductible — or none at all. Still, Lincoln’s excellent, lengthy coverage easily earns it a spot on our list.
Although Porsche has always offered excellent certified pre-owned warranty coverage, the brand changed its certified pre-owned program (called “Porsche Approved”) several months ago — and the changes are so compelling, even shoppers who were not considering a certified Porsche should add one to their shopping list. Porsche’s certified pre-owned warranty now offers two years and unlimited mileage of limited bumper-to-bumper coverage from the expiration of the original factory warranty, which lasts for 4 years or 50,000 miles, meaning more Porsche models are covered for up to 6 years with no mileage limit. This is on par with Lexus and represents an exceptional value considering the kind of cars Porsche builds and the way they perform. If you’re looking for a used, high-end performance car without the worry of pricey repairs, you’ll likely end up at a Porsche dealer.
But it gets better, as Porsche offers another CPO benefit: If you buy a certified pre-owned Porsche whose original warranty has expired, you get two years of bumper-to-bumper coverage with no mileage limit from the day you buy the car. That means if you buy a 5-year-old “Porsche Approved” vehicle that’s past its original factory-warranty period, you’ll still get two years of coverage with no mileage limit — something even Lexus doesn’t offer. Unfortunately, Porsche doesn’t offer free maintenance like Lexus but you can transfer your warranty should you decide to sell your Porsche Approved vehicle.
Volvo’s certified pre-owned program offers an excellent 7 years of coverage — a bumper-to-bumper warranty that’s equalled in length only by the CPO programs offered by Jaguar and Land Rover. In fact, Volvo’s CPO program would likely top our list along with the Jaguar and Land Rover programs if it weren’t for the mileage cap: Volvo’s coverage offers 100,000 miles of coverage, which is generous, but not quite equivalent to the unlimited-mileage warranties offered by Porsche and Lexus. Still, we highly recommend Volvo’s CPO program — and it’s enhanced even further by the fact that it boasts no deductible and full transferability to future owners, should you decide to sell your CPO Volvo while it’s still covered under warranty.
We’ve changed this page since it was first published. Specifically, the Audi CPO program is no longer on the list since Audi’s warranty terms have changed since our publishing process began. Previously, the Audi program offered coverage for up to 6 years or 100,000 miles from the original sale date — an impressive extension of the original factory warranty, which lasts for 4 years or 50,000 miles. Audi’s new program is 1 year with unlimited mileage but cannot exceed 5 years from the vehicle’s original in-service date. Since our minimum criteria for this “Best” list is 6 years or 100,000 miles, Audi has been removed from the list and Buick has been added.