IntelliChoice has announced its best certified pre-owned programs for 2011 with the surprising result that Hyundai has come out on top amidst popular brands.Volvo continues to retain its top spot in the premium segment.
Each year, IntelliChoice issues the industry's only independent report card comparing Certified Pre-Owned programs offered to consumers through franchise dealerships. Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles (CPOs) are cars, trucks, crossovers and sport utility vehicles that have come off lease or have been resold to dealers, and have been thoroughly inspected prior to sale. Typically, CPOs are less than five years old and have less than 60,000 miles on their odometers.
IntelliChoice originally developed its CPO analysis methodology to address the significant growth of manufacturer CPO programs in line with its stated mission to provide consumers with comprehensive automotive analysis and advice. This is the 13th year the company has made these awards. IntelliChoice investigates and analyzes 26 manufacturer programs, which are divided into two major classes: Premium and Popular.
Programs are then rated on the following set of nine criteria that consumers have identified as being most valuable to their decision-making processes:
- Extended Manufacturer Warranties
- Title Verification
- Certification Inspection Process
- Roadside Assistance
- Special Financing
- Return/Exchange Policies
- Program and Dealer Compliance
- Used Cost of Ownership
- Market Penetration
What IntelliChoice calls popular programs could more aptly be titled affordable brands. All of the manufacturers, except for Mini, have new models that start below $20,000. Mini just misses that cutoff with a starting MSRP of $20,200 for its 2012 models.
Top 5 Popular Programs:
Hyundai had been in the third spot since 2008 but just this year was able to break through to the number one position over previous winners Mini and Volkswagen, which didn't even make the top 5 for 2012. Volkswagen may have been hurt by its newfound focus on new cars and a severe drop in price for its Passat model.
What's most interesting about the Hyundai selection is just a few years ago its certified pre-owned program was almost treated as an afterthought. The company was so focused on selling new cars that it could ill afford to devout energy to selling pre-owned cars.
Well, a funny thing started to happen when Hyundai's retention rate of customers started to climb. Hyundai customers were trading in old Hyundais and buying new models. That led to a surplus of used Hyundais that could be sold at a nice profit for the dealers. Another dirty little secret of certified pre-owned vehicles is they are a significant source of revenue for dealers, who often make next-to-no money from new car sales.
Than there's also the fact that Hyundais were being sold with the famous 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty that put the company on the map. Manufacturers only make money when strong warranties like that succeed. (Probably one of the reasons that Hyundai is a top manufacturer in the CarMD vehicle dependability study.) The dealers wanted a strong Hyundai certified pre-owned program and they got one.
Premium programs are more commonly known as luxury brands and Volvo continues to rule the roost, even though it's been struggling as late as a new car company with a dearth of compelling new products. However, under the IntelliChoice criteria it continues to be a winner in the certified pre-owned program.
Top 5 Premium Programs:
It's not surprising to see Lincoln on that list because it doesn't make sense to buy a new Lincoln when its looks have not largely changed in more than four years. Porsche is smart to invest in a good certified pre-owned program because that is an excellent way to get customers into the brand who otherwise might not because of the high cost of new Porsches.
Used Cost of Ownership
IntelliChoice also ranks the used cost of ownership among the certified pre-owned brands that it surveys. In the popular category Toyota comes out on top, which is in keeping with the findings of the CarMD Vehicle Reliability Study that was released in November 2011. In the premium category, Lincoln came out on top, which is not surprising because it sources its material from Ford.
Use the IntelliChoice rankings of the best certified pre-owned programs as a foundation for your used car search. However, remember to always have any used car you are considering for purchase thoroughly inspected before signing on the dotted line. That is going to be your best assurance - not rankings of overall programs.