The best certified pre-owned cars on the market can provide the ideal transportation solutions for customers on a budget. That’s because they offer impressive pricing discounts as compared to brand-new vehicles, and a major boost in owner confidence versus the typical used car or truck. In fact, dealerships select only top-quality candidates for consideration as manufacturer-certified vehicles, with strict limits on mileage and age, and then each car goes through a rigorous inspection and reconditioning process—that can take into account well over 150 different factors. Certified pre-owned vehicles often come with additional warranty coverage, too, and some serve up roadside assistance and other benefits. Another customer advantage: CPO cars are available throughout nearly all vehicle segments, as you’ll discover on the following pages.
10 Best Certified Pre-Owned Cars on the Market
Photo Credit: Honda
2015 Honda Fit
The best certified pre-owned cars on the market from Honda receive a 182-point inspection, a free vehicle history report, a 3-month trial subscription for SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and warranty protection that includes 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage. True, that’s based on the vehicle’s original in-service date, but look at a recent 2015 Honda Fit that came up with less than 16,000 miles on the odometer and a price tag of less than $16,000. This 40-mpg Fit can fit 52.7 cubic feet of cargo, and it would deliver five years/84,000 miles of coverage. Even better, it's an upper-trim EX-L model with a leather cabin, yet it’s nearly $5k less than a 2017 counterpart.
Photo Credit: Chevrolet
2015 Chevrolet Cruze
According to the Bowtie brand, its best certified pre-owned cars on the market furnish “more than $2,800 in built-in value” over a non-certified vehicle. This has an especially large impact on a compact car such as the 2015 Chevrolet Cruze, which can be found in CPO inventories for about $15,500. The value builds further with the Chevy CPO warranty package—it features a 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty and separate powertrain coverage—and a certain GM advantage: The 2015 Cruze, like many of GM’s recent products, boasts a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot and 4G LTE connectivity. You won’t find that technology in some brand-new luxury cars that cost five times that amount, though you will find it in even the base-level 2015 Cruze.
Photo Credit: Hyundai
2014 Hyundai Sonata
In the midsize segment, there are a number of reasons to choose the 2014 Hyundai Sonata as one of the best certified pre-owned cars on the market. For one thing, Hyundai significantly upgraded the Sonata for the 2014 model year, restyling the sleek sedan both inside and out. There was more new content introduced as well, from a Driver Selectable Steering Mode that was standard on all models to a blind spot detection system for the SE and Limited trims. That last, range-topping trim also added a ventilation function for its already heated seats. Plus, because the automaker’s 10-year/100,000-mile new-vehicle protection carries over for CPO customers, a fairly large chunk of coverage will remain on a pre-owned 2014 Sonata.
Photo Credit: Mazda
2014 Mazda Mazda3
Mazda’s best certified pre-owned cars for sale include its fun-to-drive compact entries, and the 2014 Mazda Mazda3 is a particularly worthy choice. It was the 2014 edition that marked the launch of an all-new generation for the Mazda3, complete with a full implementation of the brand’s dramatic KODO design language and dynamic SKYACTIV engineering technologies. With the former, the 2014 Mazda3 owns best-in-class aerodynamics for both sedan and hatchback body styles; the latter enables a "zoom-zoom" driving experience with an EPA line of up to 30 mpg city/39 mpg highway/33 mpg combined. Meanwhile, Mazda CPO benefits extend to a 7-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty—with a competitive $0 deductible—and 24-hour emergency roadside assistance for the duration of that coverage.
Photo Credit: Ford
2016 Ford Fusion
Although many of the previously mentioned vehicles represent either brand-new or refreshed models, there’s something to be said about taking the opposite tack when shopping for the best certified pre-owned cars on the market. The 2016 Ford Fusion, for instance, came out the final year before the Blue Oval’s midsize sedan was updated, so there’s a sort of pricing discontinuity between that year and the next. A CPO 2016 Fusion SE with fewer than 23,000 miles and configured with a high-efficiency 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine cropped up for below $17K as this story was being researched; a 2017 Fusion SE with the same engine opens at $24,150. Ford seals the deal with a 172-point CPO inspection and plenty of its own warranty protection.
Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz
2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Of course, there’s also much value to be had in the premium segments from the best certified pre-owned cars on the market. A prime example here is the 2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The current model, remember, has overtaken its BMW 3-Series rival to become the most popular entry in its class, and these gently used editions are a surprisingly affordable way to check out what all the fuss is about. Indeed, it’s common to see a certified 2014 C250 luxury sedan that stickers below $20,000 yet still brings up-level cues like real burl-walnut wood cabin trim and heated seats. Also notable is Mercedes’ premium level of CPO warranty protection, from a 1-year/unlimited-mileage limited vehicle warranty to access to the brand’s 24/7 roadside-assistance team.
Photo Credit: Lexus
2015 Lexus GS
The best certified pre-owned cars on the market from the Lexus brand are supplied under the L/Certified banner and are backed by a comprehensive array of confidence builders. An unlimited-mileage vehicle warranty, roadside assistance, and a 161-point inspection program are all in the mix, as is complimentary routine maintenance for the first two years/20,000 miles. Getting down to a specific vehicle, there’s the occasional 2015 Lexus GS 350 F Sport in the CPO ranks for roughly $41K, and the all-wheel drive sport sedan combines the brand’s CPO benefits with heated and ventilated front seats, leather upholstery, 19-inch alloy wheels, F Sport performance and style enhancements, and a navigation-enabled Lexus Enform infotainment system with a 12.3-inch display.
Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz
2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Being on a budget means different things to different shoppers, and for some customers, it means you can afford to spend $75,000 for the best certified pre-owned cars on the market. At that point, a 2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class may meet your requirements. Among the units offered during our research, a black-on-black S550 with Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive system stood out. Wearing 19-inch AMG wheels, burl walnut-wood trim, and Nappa leather cabin surfaces, the car also kicks out 449 horsepower from a 4.4-liter biturbo V8. And beyond the usual run of Mercedes CPO warranty coverages, this 550 also protects occupants with blind spot assistance, lane keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, a forward collision system, and more.
Photo Credit: Buick
2016 Buick LaCrosse
An interesting “sleeper” among the best certified pre-owned cars on the market is the 2016 Buick LaCrosse, which blends a bevy of luxury cues with a relatively low asking price. Buick’s CPO program alone includes premium advantages like two years/24,000 miles of complimentary routine maintenance, roadside assistance, courtesy transportation, and a 3-month trial for both SiriusXM Satellite Radio and GM’s OnStar telematics services. As for the LaCrosse itself, customers can expect the automaker’s mobile Wi-Fi setup with 4G LTE connectivity, supple leather seating with a heated front row, keyless start, a rearview camera, and more—all with a cost of around $22,995 for a fullsize near-premium sedan.
Photo Credit: Toyota
2014 Toyota Prius
Hybrid customers hoping to find the best certified pre-owned vehicles on the market can look to the segment’s leader for a wide variety of potential vehicles—such as the 2014 Toyota Prius. This exact model-year Prius was named the No. 1 car in the compact class in the 2017 J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, which presents a thorough analysis of how well a car or truck holds up after three years of service. Nor will you feel held up at the gas station with the 2014 Prius. After all, it has EPA ratings of 49 mpg city/46 mpg highway/48 mpg combined. Toyota naturally supports the Prius, and all of its CPO vehicles, with a strong warranty package.