The Post and Courier

For all the buzz about the alluring features in brand new cars and trucks, there’s quite a bit less hype on what most people drive — used vehicles.

To coin a phrase, cars stop being new when they roll off the lot.

Auto manufacturers do publicize their warranties on sold or leased cars, if not always with the same gusto as displaying the latest comforts, gas mileage figures and performance boosts of its new editions.

A few TV ads such as the cartoon fox advising “Show me your Carfax” focus on pre-owned cars.

But automakers typically aren’t praised, or taken to task, for their efforts to make sure buyers are safeguarded from mechanical troubles down the road, whether through a warranty or roadside assistance.

One notable exception is IntelliChoice with its Pre-owned Car Awards. The 14th annual CPO selections were disclosed this week, and Volvo and Hyundai took the two top spots.

Hyundai won the Best Popular Program award and Volvo took the Best Premium Program honor.

“IntelliChoice issues the industry’s only report card for certified pre-owned vehicles,” said Eric Anderson, the company’s ownership database supervisor.

“Many manufacturers develop their CPO programs using the inspection and ranking criteria as benchmarks,” he said.

The Campbell, Calif.-based company said it breaks out models as premium or popular based on brand image and price of the vehicles. Other popular carmakers include Chrysler, Ford and Honda, the company said. Among the premium manufacturers are Acura, Audi, BMW and Lexus.

“We’re proud to be setting industry standards that result in better, safer, longer-lasting pre-owned vehicles,” Anderson said.

According to IntelliChoice, Volvo placed first for its strength in what the analyst considers the two most important areas for a pre-owned vehicle: warranty and inspection.

Volvo racked up a 100 percent score for inspection and placed in the top five for warranty. The carmaker also ranked in the top five for its “used ownership cost” score.

As part of its certified pre-owned program, Volvo offers owners six years or 100,000 miles of comprehensive coverage with no deductible — the out of pocket payment. Also, most of its certified pre-owned vehicles keep any balance remaining on a five-year, 60,000 mile maintenance warranty, according to IntelliChoice. And the manufacturer showed no other significant weaknesses in the program review.

Similarly, Hyundai maxed out the inspection score at 100 percent and finished with the second-highest warranty mark. Another bonus: Hyundai offers the longest powertrain coverage in the business at 10 years, 100,000 miles, the analysis company said.

Along with naming overall winners, IntelliChoice also listed the top automakers in its examination categories. They were:

• Best Popular Warranty — Mini.

• Best Popular Used Ownership Costs — Honda.

• Best Premium Warranty — Porsche.

• Best Premium Used Ownership Costs — Lincoln.

Car shoppers and owners can find additional CPO information on the winning carmakers and on most other manufacturers by visiting the IntelliChoice website at

For instance on Volvo, the analysis company lists the automaker’s certified pre-owned website, notes whether the warranty is transferable (yes), cites benefits beyond the new car warranty such as 12-month, 40,000 miles comprehensive for 2010 and 2011 models and notes if it has an extended warranty (yes) and provides a vehicle history report (yes).

IntelliChoice further describes Volvo’s roadside assistance program; cites dealership participation, which is 100 percent or about 315 nationwide (the Volvo dealer in Charleston is Hendrick); lists age and mileage requirements, which are current model year to five years old and less than 80,000 miles; and highlights any additional benefits — Volvo’s Protection Plus offers factory scheduled maintenance for six years and 100,000 miles.

Hyundai, meanwhile, makes available an optional wrap service contract, vehicle care service plan and road hazard tire plan on its extended warranty, has participation from 94 percent of its dealerships or 771 outlets in all (Hendrick has two Hyundai locations in the Charleston area), touts age and mileage requirements of up to five model years old and less than 60,000 miles and offers special financing terms for buying a certified pre-owned model.

IntelliChoice, founded in 1986 and part of the Motor Trend Automotive Group, specializes in analysis of automotive ownership costs and car values.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or