10 Best CPO Cars Under $25,000
The average transaction price of a new car just keeps increasing. Even the global pandemic couldn’t stop the continued escalation of vehicle prices. Today’s new cars are well-built and are excellent values, but if you’d like to save yourself some money — or treat yourself to a luxury model you might not be able to afford new — a great alternative is a certified pre-owned car. Vehicles that have been certified by their manufacturers are relatively new, low-mileage cars that are extensively examined by trained technicians. In addition, they are backed by warranties that most often include lengthy powertrain coverage and might also include perks like roadside assistance. Here are the top values in CPO cars that you can buy for under $25,000.
2018 Honda Accord
The Honda Accord is not only a reliable car, but it is also one of the most fun-to-drive of all its peers in the mid-size sedan segment. Long an American favorite, the Accord underwent a complete makeover for the 2018 model year, and it came out even better than before. Part of the improvement came under the hood where the base engine is a 192-horsepower turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder backed by a continuously variable automatic transmission. The uplevel engine is a 252-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which can be teamed with either a 10-speed automatic or six-speed manual. (Much as we like manuals, we’d say get the automatic.) On the safety front, the Accord is stuffed with standard safety features including a forward-collision warning, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and road departure mitigation. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard.
2017 Nissan Maxima
The Nissan Maxima is a mid-size luxury car that doesn’t happen to have a luxury badge. With plenty of room for five, the 2017 Maxima is filled with valuable features — alloy wheels, fog lamps, automatically activated headlamps, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front seating, 8-inch touchscreen infotainment with Bluetooth/iPod/USB integration, and an eight-speaker audio system. Apple CarPlay was made standard in 2017, adding to the user-friendliness of the audio system. The SL trim level features advanced safety equipment including blind-spot monitoring, a rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, and a forward-collision warning with forward emergency braking. Under the hood is a well-regarded 3.5-liter V6 whose 300 horsepower make clear that the Maxima is not ready to give up its title as “the four-door sports car.”
2017 Toyota Avalon
A large sedan whose personality leans toward creature comforts, the 2017 Toyota Avalon is a CPO superstar. Sharing a great deal with the luxury Lexus ES, the Avalon is filled with thoughtful touches. Even the base model features 7-inch touchscreen infotainment with Entune interface and voice command, Bluetooth/iPod integration, and an eight-speaker audio system. Sadly, however, neither Apple CarPlay nor Android Auto is supported. Heated power-operated side mirrors, a tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, heated power-adjustable seating, dual-zone climate control, and leather upholstery help make up for the sting. The 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine isn’t tuned for performance, but its smooth power makes the driving experience pleasant. The Avalon is a rock-solid sedan that is a CPO bargain.
2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata
Just looking at the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata gives you assurance that it will offer driving enjoyment. What is less clear but equally true is the fact that the typical Miata is a very reliable daily driver. If you have to commute, something fewer of us are doing these days, there is a lot to like about doing it in a car with so much fun-to-drive personality. Despite its throwback looks, the Miata isn’t totally retro either. It offers modern amenities like push-button ignition and Bluetooth/USB integration in the sound system. The 155-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine teams best with the manual transmission, but if you opt for the automatic, we doubt you’ll regret it. The soft-top roof is manually operated, but once you learn the technique, you can probably do it with one hand. The Miata was completely redesigned for the 2016 model year and the folding hardtop RF model was added in 2017, making it a good year to center your CPO search on.
2017 Chrysler 300
The Chrysler 300 is a five-passenger rear-drive luxury sedan that has hints of some of the best European luxury sedans, but at a much lower price. The standard engine in the 2017 300 is a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 292 horsepower, while a 300-horsepower version of the engine drives the 300S model. But if you really want to channel a luxo-sedan, choose the 363-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi V8. The Uconnect infotainment system has an 8.4-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, six-speaker audio, Bluetooth, and two USB ports. The 300C trim level is a wise pick because it is filled with luxury touches like an integrated navigation system, a memory driver’s seat, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a power rear sunshade, and a sunroof. Both 2015 and 2016 versions of the Chrysler 300 are very similar to the 2017, so they are worthwhile substitutes but they might be less available as CPO cars.
2018 Volvo S60
The Volvo S60 is a small luxury sedan that sometimes gets overlooked for the German brands that have a higher profile in the segment. But for those who seek comfort, safety, and understated Scandinavian style, the S60 is a stellar choice. In T5 form, it is powered by a 240-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine driving the front wheels. All-wheel-drive and longer-wheelbase versions are available as well, but they may push the car past the $25,000 price target. As you would expect, the S60 has many available safety features, so look for an example that has the blind-spot monitor, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, and rear cross-traffic alert. The base T5 Dynamic has a 7-inch display, eight-speaker audio, leather seats, and dual-zone automatic climate control. The T5 Inscription adds significantly more rear-seat legroom and a variety of other amenities.
2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI
The Volkswagen Golf GTI is hard not to like. It offers a serious helping of European performance thanks to its carefully tuned suspension and 220-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. We’re fans of its DSG dual-clutch manumatic transmission that provides quick, sure shifts. But for all its performance, the GTI is also a very practical car. The four-door hatchback configuration is immensely versatile, and it can carry serious amounts of cargo and/or five adult passengers. The base S trim is equipped with a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system featuring Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus additional touches like heated front seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The SE offers a larger 8-inch display plus standard safety tech that includes a forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, blind-spot monitoring, and a rear cross-traffic alert.
2018 Audi A3
The Audi A3 is one of the most delightful small cars on the market. We love its classy exterior design and its equally classy interior that is understated and superbly functional. The base engine for 2018 is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 186 horsepower. It is backed by a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. More horsepower is available in the all-wheel-drive Quattro models, but they will push the price past $25,000. Some A3s have the Audi Virtual Cockpit, and all will have the brand's well-regarded MMI infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In the 2018 model year, Audi upgraded the A3 to include standard heated front seats and added a second USB port. These are nice-to-have features, but don’t overlook a well-maintained 2017 A3 either.
2016 BMW 3 Series
The BMW 3 Series is what many enthusiasts think of when they hear the phrase European performance car. It's amazingly precise, well-balanced rear-drive handling is a thing of beauty, and the 3 Series is a terrific way to make the pavement fly out behind you. For 2016, the base 320i model has a 180-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 180 horsepower. With either eight-speed automatic transmission or six-speed manual, that should be enough power, but we can’t help coveting the 328i that has a 240-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Happily, the 328i could still fall below the $25K price point. Standard equipment on the 2016 3 Series includes push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, and the iDrive infotainment system with a 6.5-inch display. Some 2016s will have the dedicated navigation system and 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio.
2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
A certified pre-owned Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a car you might happily own for a decade or more. The 2016 C 300 compact sedan is a five-passenger, rear-drive vehicle that conjures up everything you have heard about Mercedes-Benz automobiles. The C-Class delivers a quiet, comfortable ride, yet it can be pushed through corners in sports-sedan mode. The C 300 sedan is powered by a 241-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. While the 4Matic all-wheel-drive models are enticing, they will probably push the price past $25,000. Inside, you get the full-on Mercedes-Benz treatment in a luxurious interior that features multi-adjustable seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and push-button start. The COMAND infotainment system has an 8.4-inch display, though it takes some patience.