AutoTrader Picks Best Luxury & Non-Luxury Certified Programs

Credit: Lexus.

If you’re buying a used vehicle, CarProUSA Radio Show host Jerry Reynolds recommends buying Certified Pre-Owned. They may typically cost a bit more, but they’re worth the peace of mind. CPO’s are vehicles certified by the manufacturer after going through a strict inspection process. They can also offer additional warranty coverage and other perks, which vary from brand to brand

AutoTrader evaluates CPO programs each year and this year its two top picks are: Lexus for best luxury CPO program and Kia as best non-luxury brand. Lexus keeps its title, and Kia takes its title from its sibling Hyundai.

Not All CPO’s Are Equal

When shopping for a CPO it’s important to know that not all CPO programs are equal as standards vary from automaker to automaker. However, most certified vehicles have lower mileage and are newer model years. Autotrader says they can offer extra factory-backed warranty coverage, and also offer various value-adds like special financing, 24-hour roadside assistance, free scheduled maintenance visits, along with perks like free loaner cars during repairs, trip-interruption reimbursement and more.

While buying CPO costs a little more, Autotrader says for many used-car buyers it is money well-spent. Keep in mind too that the CPO market is also currently impacted by the new car shortage in the industry.

"With used-car prices on the rise and new-car inventory scarce, right now it makes a lot of sense to consider a certified pre-owned car or truck," said Brian Moody, executive editor for Autotrader. "Autotrader expects the prices of used cars to remain higher than usual for the remainder of 2021, so the gap between a typical used-vehicle price and a CPO price is narrowing. Shoppers can view these current market conditions as an advantage, as buying CPO includes several benefits above and beyond purchasing a non-certified used car."

Best Certified Pre-Owned Luxury Program of 2021: Lexus L/Certified

Lexus L/Certified takes the top spot again as best CPO Luxury Program. (It is also recognized as a best CPO program by U.S News & World Report.) Autotrader says Lexus vehicles that go through this program must have a clean history report and pass a factory-supervised 161-point inspection. There’s also no mileage cap for its added CPO warranty. To qualify for Lexus L/Certified, a vehicle must be no more than six years old and have no more than 70,000 miles on the odometer.

L/Certified also stands out for its CPO warranty adding two years with unlimited mileage coverage to whatever remains of its original four-year/50,000-mile new-car warranty. That's a total of six years/unlimited-mile limited bumper-to-bumper and powertrain coverage from the new-car purchase date.

Other highlights of the Lexus L/Certified program include: 24-hour roadside assistance, loaner car covered during repairs, and trip-interruption allowance providing reimbursement for meals, a rental car ($50 per day for up to five days), and lodging (up to $200 per night for up to three nights). Rounding out the perks are four scheduled-maintenance visits.

Lexus L/Certified Program Website

Best Certified Pre-Owned Non-Luxury Program of 2021: Kia Certified Pre-Owned

Kia steals the non-luxury CPO crown this year from its sibling Hyundai. (Kia is also a recommended CPO affordable pick by U.S. News & World Report.)

Things that impressed Autotrader include Kia’s stellar powertrain warranty and the fact that the CPO coverage is transferable to another private owner for a $40 fee. For a used vehicle to qualify for Kia's CPO program, it must be no more than five years old, have no more than 60,000 miles on the odometer, pass a 173-point inspection, and have a clean vehicle-history report.

Kia's CPO program also stands out thanks to its industry-leading 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. When a Kia model passes from its original owner, its powertrain warranty is reduced to five years/60,000 miles from the original new-car purchase date. However, Kia reinstates the original 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty for its CPO cars and SUVs. In addition, Kia provides its CPO vehicles with a one-year/12,000-mile limited bumper-to-bumper warranty beginning on the CPO sale date (requiring a $50 deductible for each covered repair). Along with the extra warranty coverage, Kia's additional CPO program perks include: 24-hour roadside assistance, up to 10 days car-rental allowance of $35 per day for covered repairs, limited trip-interruption reimbursement of up to $500 for five days, and a three-month satellite radio subscription.

Kia CPO Program Website

About the Research

In choosing the 2021 Best CPO programs, Autotrader looked at a number of factors: powertrain warranty length, available inventory, bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage, special financing terms, highest volume and broadest possible spectrum of CPO vehicle types and price ranges currently listed for sale, and ease of understanding warranty overall.

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