Honda Extends Certified Pre-Owned Status to 10-Year-Old Cars

As used-car prices surge, Honda looks to attract younger buyers looking for deals on used cars, and peace of mind

2012 Honda Civic EX-L Sedan Photo: Honda

Honda, and its luxury brand Acura, says it’s adding used vehicles up to 10 years old to its certified pre-owned program, which automakers have traditionally reserved for more recent, low-mileage models. CPO programs—which offer warranty protection on used vehicles that typically have undergone a meticulous inspection—are designed to put shoppers at ease about buying secondhand vehicles. CPO cars are typically priced higher than similar models without the designation.

Honda says its new CPO expansion will subject older cars to the same 122-point inspection—and necessary repairs—as its newer certified cars. The automaker also says there will be tiers to the offered warranty protection, meaning older CPO vehicles won’t get the same coverage as newer ones (details below).

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“Reliable older used cars from brands like Honda can be a great value with plenty of life left,” says Jake Fisher, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center. “Backing them up with a manufacturer warranty removes the largest hesitation—fear of unexpected repair costs.” 

At the end of this article, we present the six Acura and Honda 2012 model-year vehicles shown to have good reliability in CR’s member surveys. The Accord and CR-V stand out as good bets, meaning they performed well when new and have multiple years of better-than-average reliability. (See our full list of the best used cars.)

Honda says adding warranty coverage for a larger swath of available used cars is a way to entice younger buyers looking for less expensive models onto its dealership lots. Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at Cox Automotive, the company that owns Kelley Blue Book and, said in a recent auto sales webcast that sales under CPO programs had slowed amid the recent surge in used-car prices.

Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst for Guidehouse Insights, a firm that tracks auto industry trends, says CPO cars command higher prices because consumers feel more secure that they’re getting something reliable. That, he says, can benefit the manufacturer and its dealers and consumers. “Higher-priced CPO sales can boost the residual values that are used to calculate lease rates,” he says. “With higher residuals, manufacturers can offer lower monthly payments on [new car] leases and move more metal without hurting margins.”

The other boon to consumers comes on the warranty side, because buyers can rely on a warranty and other added-in benefits without the risk of an as-is sale, which is typical for high mileage, older used cars. “It obviously costs more, but many consumers are willing to pay that premium to avoid the risks,” Abuelsamid says. 

Honda now has three tiers of certified status for the used cars its dealerships sell: HondaTrue Certified+, HondaTrue Certified, and HondaTrue Certified Used. The “Used” level covers cars up to 10 years old, and includes a 100-day, 5,000-mile warranty. That’s much less than the two higher tiers, which offer 7 years and 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage, and 60 months and 86,000 miles of non-powertrain coverage at the “+” level, or 12 months and 12,000 miles outside the new car limited warranty in the middle tier. The various tiers also include in-warranty emergency roadside assistance and towing, as well as lockout service and flat tire repair, among other perks. All three tiers also include a three-day, 300-mile exchange policy in which a dissatisfied customer can exchange the vehicle they bought for another Honda CPO car.

Acura will have two tiers for its CPO cars: Acura Precision Certified and Acura Precision Used. The Certified level will apply to cars up to 6 years old, with 80,000 miles or less on the odometer, and will include 24 months and up to 100,000 miles of non-powertrain coverage, and 7 years and up to 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage. The Used level is for cars up to 10 years old, and has no mileage limit. Both powertrain and non-powertrain coverage are good for 6 months and up to 7,500 miles. Both tiers provide emergency towing and other benefits similar to those offered on Honda vehicles. 

“While the warranty for the older cars isn’t as good, it’s still backed by Honda,” Fisher says. “Traditional aftermarket warranties are available but often aren’t as comprehensive or only provide service at certain shops.”

Ultimately, the best used-car deals are often on cars without the added cost of a CPO program. The key is to focus on models with a strong reliability history, then check the Carfax report, and have the car inspected by an independent mechanic or through a service like Lemon Squad. 

Here are six Acura and Honda 2012 model-year vehicles shown to have good reliability in CR’s member surveys.

Head shot of CR Autos Editor, Benjamin Preston

Benjamin Preston

My reporting has taken me everywhere from Baghdad, Iraq, to the Detroit auto show, along the U.S.-Mexico border and everywhere in between. If my travels have taught me anything, it's that stuff—consumer products—is at the center of daily life all over the world. That's why I'm so jazzed to be shining light on what works, what doesn't, and how people can enrich their lives by being smarter consumers. When I'm not reporting, I can usually be found at home with my family, at the beach surfing, or in my driveway, wrenching on my hot rod '74 Olds sedan.