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June 12, 2020, 5:05 a.m. EDT

Two car companies with the best certified pre-owned programs

Checking all the boxes of what a CPO program should offer

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By Autotrader


Lexus
In the luxury category, Lexus offers 2 years and unlimited mileage on top of what remains of the new car warranty.

Nearly every carmaker offers a certified pre-owned (CPO) program. In some ways, CPO cars are just used cars with a warranty, but the best CPO programs are often backed by the automaker and require CPO cars to go through a process and meet specific criteria. This is different than buying breakdown insurance at an added cost. CPO cars include the program benefits as part of the purchase price of the car. With so many out there, knowing which CPO programs are the best for 2020 can provide you with a leg up when shopping for that higher-quality used car.

Before CPO, buying a used car was mostly a roll of the dice. Sure, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk, such as getting a vehicle history report (Carfax, AutoCheck and so forth) and having a qualified mechanic perform a pre-inspection of the vehicle. But, finally pulling the trigger on the purchase was always, in the end, a leap of faith.

Also read: The pros and cons of buying a certified used car

However, with CPO, a lot of the unknown becomes known, giving the buyer much-needed peace of mind. With the exception of Porsche, carmakers only certify later-model, lower-mileage used cars. CPO cars must pass a rigid inspection, allowing carmakers to provide additional warranty protection not offered for noncertified used cars. Most CPO programs provide other perks, too, such as 24-hour roadside assistance, trip-interruption protection, loaner cars during repairs, free satellite-radio subscription and more.

To save you a little time and energy during your car shopping process, the editors at Autotrader evaluated all the available certified offerings on the market and picked the very best CPO programs for 2020 in both the luxury and non-luxury categories.

The best Certified Pre-Owned luxury program of 2020: Lexus L/Certified

Again for 2020, Autotrader picks the Lexus CPO program as the best among luxury carmakers. There are other strong luxury CPO programs out there. Acura and Jaguar/Land Rover come to mind. Porsche /zigman2/quotes/208338327/composite POAHY -1.45%   is also very good, but more about Porsche later.

Lexus calls its CPO program L/Certified. Among luxury brands, L/Certified checks nearly all the boxes of what a CPO program should offer. On top of the remaining balance of the original 4-year or 50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper new-car warranty (which includes powertrain coverage), the CPO warranty adds 2 years and unlimited mileage. That works out to a total of six years with unlimited mileage. Its unlimited mileage puts L/Certified over the top in our voting. Other programs have unlimited mileage but the time cap is usually around 2 years. In this case, Lexus knows they have a quality product and stand behind it with both unlimited mileage and a long warranty period. Unlimited mileage is a real advantage, particularly for anyone who does a lot of driving. Lexus doesn’t require a deductible for covered repairs and provides a complimentary loaner car during any repairs estimated to take more than eight hours.

Other L/Certified perks include four free scheduled-maintenance visits, which take CPO vehicles through 2 years or 20,000 miles. Additional benefits include free roadside assistance and trip-interruption reimbursement of up to $200 for as many as three nights and up to $50 a day for rental-car allowance. The only real shortcoming to L/Certified is that it isn’t transferable.

Also see: 8 affordable new cars priced well below $20k

In our opinion, one of the reasons L/Certified beats out Porsche’s CPO program is because Lexus has a much greater volume of CPO cars spread across more vehicle segments. Lexus and Porsche are different kinds of vehicles for different buyers. But, Porsche’s CPO program still impresses. Where most carmakers restrict the age of CPO vehicles to no more than five or six model years, Porsche will certify cars up to 14-years old with less than 124,000 miles on the odometer. These older certified cars come with a 2-year/unlimited-miles limited warranty. At the time of this writing, we found four 2008 CPO vehicles and five 2010 CPO vehicles scattered across the U.S. — so, finding an older, certified Porsche isn’t impossible.

As good as Porsche’s CPO plan is, L/Certified by Lexus still reigns. 

The best Certified Pre-Owned non-luxury program of 2020: Hyundai Certified Pre-Owned


Hyundai
Hyundai’s CPO advantage is built upon its 10-year/100,000 mile new-vehicle powertrain warranty.

Hyundai continues for another year as our top pick for non-luxury CPO programs. Hyundai’s CPO advantage is built upon its 10-year/100,000 mile new-vehicle powertrain warranty. That’s a great place to start. For example, if you bought a 3-year-old used Hyundai from your neighbor, that original powertrain warranty would revert to six years or 60,000 miles. Hyundai’s /zigman2/quotes/204364212/composite HYMTF -7.84%   CPO program reinstates the full term of the original powertrain warranty. Hybrid and electric CPO cars also qualify for a 10-year or 100,000-mile battery warranty.

Also on MarketWatch: 8 affordable new cars that get at least 40 mpg

Whatever remains of the original 5-year or 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper limited new-car warranty also transfers to the CPO vehicle. Because the CPO warranty term begins at the time of the original new-car purchase, a three-year-old CPO vehicle showing 30,000 miles on the odometer would come with a 2-year or 30,000-mile limited warranty and a 7-year or 70,000-mile powertrain warranty. It just doesn’t get better than that among nonluxury CPO plans.

Also see: These 3 EVs are the lowest cost to own over 5 years

Other CPO benefits include full transferability if you sell your CPO car to a private buyer, a $35-per-day rental-car allowance during covered repairs, complimentary 24/7 roadside assistance and trip-interruption benefits when covered repairs are required more than 150 miles from home. The only significant shortcoming of Hyundai’s program is the $50 deductible that Hyundai requires for every covered repair. However, this is fairly standard among nonluxury CPO programs. Only a handful of nonluxury CPO plans, such as Chevrolet and Honda /zigman2/quotes/207173990/composite HMC -0.63%  , don’t require a deductible. Others, such as Ford /zigman2/quotes/208911460/composite F +0.14%   and FCA /zigman2/quotes/204248628/composite FCAU -0.87%   (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and so forth), have a $100 deductible.

It’s worth mentioning that Kia’s CPO program is similar to Hyundai’s. However, it falls short because, while it retains the balance of the 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty, it doesn’t retain any of the original 5-year or 60,000-mile new car limited warranty. The CPO bumper-to-bumper limited warranty is for one year or 12,000 miles, beginning at the time of the CPO vehicle purchase. Advantage: Hyundai. 

This story originally ran on Autotrader.com .

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