Certified pre-owned vehicles: The 10 best and worst deals


Certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles continue to be very attractive for people in the market for a used car. Extended warranties and an extensively inspected vehicle are strong lures. But when it comes to the premium you’ll pay for those things, not all cars and trucks are created equal.

Money expert Clark Howard has made it clear that the allure around certified pre-owned vehicles is largely unwarranted (no pun intended). Clark says the term “certified pre-owned” is basically “just for marketing purposes and that tends to boost the cost of the vehicle you’re buying.”

“A CPO vs. one next to it that’s not CPO can make a $2,000 difference right then and there,” he says.

Cars with the highest and lowest CPO premiums

And a new chart by vehicle site iSeeCars.com comparing the top 10 cars with the lowest premiums when buying CPO vs non-CPO bears out what Clark is saying. To come up with the figures, iSeeCars.com analyzed more than 1 million used 2015-model vehicles, comparing them to pre-owned cars that were not certified.

iSeeCars Top 10 Cars With the Highest CPO Premiums
Rank Make/Model Average CPO Premium (%) Average CPO Premium ($)
1 Lexus IS 250 7.9% $2,022
2 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 7.9% $2,009
3 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 7.7% $2,510
4 Cadillac ATS 7.6% $1,637
5 Mercedes-Benz CLA 7.5% $1,767
6 Volvo S60 6.9% $1,353
7 BMW X1 6.7% $1,411
8 Audi A4 6.7% $1,480
9 BMW 3 Series 6.5% $1,458
10 Mercedes-Benz GLK 6.4% $1,796
Average Premium for CPO Cars 3.6% $813

“The average CPO vehicle costs 3.6% more than its non-CPO equivalent, and consumers are faced with deciding if the terms of the warranty and certification are worth the added cost,” iSeeCars CEO Phong Ly said in a written statement. “However, certain models have significantly lower-than-average CPO premiums that can bring peace of mind to used car buyers for just a few hundred dollars more.”

iSeeCars Top 10 Cars with the Lowest CPO Premiums
Rank Make/Model Average CPO Premium (%) Average CPO Premium ($)
1 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 1.6% $523
2 Nissan Rogue 1.7% $302
3 Honda CR-V 1.7% $339
4 Honda Odyssey 1.8% $420
5 Chevrolet Tahoe 1.8% $707
6 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 1.9% $529
7 Honda Accord 1.9% $322
8 Honda Civic 2.0% $291
9 Jeep Grand Cherokee 2.1% $560
10 GMC Sierra 1500 2.1% $646
Average Premium for CPO Cars 3.6% $813

And remember, not all CPOs come with additional warranties. Clark says if you do find a CPO with an extended warranty, that’s a good thing “but you’ve still got to have that vehicle inspected as a condition to purchase, just like any other vehicle.”

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