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Best Certified Pre-Owned Automotive Programs for 2010

IntelliChoice.Com Ranks Manufacturers Certified Pre-Owned Used Cars


IntelliChoice.com has come out with its annual list of the Best Certfied Pre-Owned Automotive programs for 2010. It's unfortunate that the top three programs (there was a statistical tie for 1st in non-luxury) are non-American brands: Volvo, Volkswagen and Mini. They ranked highest on overall value. Domestic manufacturers need to realize they will find new car customers through certified pre-owned programs. So, let's see how IntelliChoice.Com ranks manufacturers' certified pre-owned used cars.

It is the third straight year that Volvo has topped the luxury certified pre-owned program - and Volvo needs all the help it can get in 2010 because fewer and fewer people are buying its new cars. It's the second straight year Mini and Volkswagen have tied for the top spot.

In a press release, Eric Anderson, senior analyst, Intellichoice.com, said,"Volvo, Mini, and Volkswagen continue to dominate the rankings with a focus on consistency and quality in their programs," said. "We are very impressed with the improvement Kia has made with a relatively new program. Kia now joins Hyundai in the top five Non-Luxury programs and demonstrates a strong and aggressive push from the Korean manufacturers to strengthen their brands in the U.S."
Anderson continued "While the CPO market has seen both gainers and losers over the past 12 months, CPOs are showing slower sales declines versus new car sales. GM brands represent 24 percent of all CPOs sold in the US--and the rankings show they take the CPO programs seriously. These programs allow buyers looking for value to buy a great car without taking the hit on depreciation from day one."

Now, I'm not necessarily a fan of certified pre-owned because I think it can add an awful lot of money to the bottom line: in some cases 10 to 15%. A good inspection by a trained mechanic would serve the same purpose, except, of course you would not have the extended warranty. In most cases, preventive maintenance and the good inspection combined make it possible to buy a used car that is as good as certified pre-owned, but without the higher cost.

Having said that, there are some brands on the luxury side that a buyer should only purchase from with the certified pre-owned warranty: Jaguar and Hummer. Jaguar historically has quality problems, while Hummers by their very nature can suffer a lot of abuse. Granted, probably 95% of Hummer owners never use them to their full potential, but it only takes one bad off-road experience for a lifetime of headaches.

IntelliChoice reports that Kia has broken into the top 5 among non-luxury brands for the first time based on a jump in its brand value score. The website also points out that GM holds steady with three of its brands in the top 5 overall best luxury programs: Saab, Cadillac and Hummer. What IntelliChoice fails to mention is that this time next year, GM will only own Cadillac. It will be interesting to see what happens to those certified pre-owned programs under new ownership.

IntelliChoice.com initiated its Certified Pre-Owned awards program 10 years ago to address the significant growth of the CPO offering and consumer demand for comprehensive analysis. Programs are rated on a set of eight criteria that consumers identify as having the most value:

  • Extended manufacturer warranties
  • Title verification
  • Certification inspection process
  • Roadside assistance--Special financing
  • Return exchange policies
  • Program/dealer compliance
  • Brand value

Anderson makes a good observation. Manufacturers are offering incentives on their certified pre-owned cars because of a dwindling supply. "CPO programs rely on inventory. The recent decline in the market has provided a flood of choice. Many manufacturers are offering incentives on CPOs and that is making a big difference for the consumer," said Anderson.

IntelliChoice.com 2010 CPO Winners

IntelliChoice.com investigates and analyzes 32 manufacturer programs. Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles (CPOs) are cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles that have come off lease or have been resold to dealers, and have been thoroughly inspected prior to sale. IntelliChoice.com's Best Certified Pre-Owned Awards are presented in two major classes: Luxury and Non-Luxury. The following breaks out the top vehicles in each category and the three most important sub-categories:

Luxury Brand:

Overall Winner: Volvo
Best Warranty: Porsche
100% Inspection Score: Audi, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo
Strongest Brand Value: Saab

Luxury Ranking:

Non-Luxury Brand

Overall: VW and MINI (statistical tie)
Warranty: MINI
100% Inspection Compliance: Ford, Mercury, Nissan and Suzuki
Brand Value: General Motors and Honda (tie)

Non-Luxury Ranking:

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