A white 2019 Subaru Outback, a popular used car, is driving on a desert road.

Getting the Most Out of Your Used Car Budget

When shopping for used cars, there are a lot of options to choose from. In fact, many folks might feel there are too many options! Even if you narrow down the type of vehicle you want- a truck, an SUV, a car, or one of the many sub-segments of each- you’ll be faced with a range of options that include a myriad of trims, mileage, ages, and features. How do you decide which vehicle is the best option for you?

If you’re searching for the best used cars to buy within your budget, a great place to start is in the Certified Pre-Owned stock at your local used car dealership. While you can possibly buy the same car with higher mileage for a lower price point from the local classified ads, there’s a huge advantage to shopping Certified Pre-Owned. That advantage is peace of mind. When you buy a used car outside of a dealership, you may get away with paying less, but you also have no idea what you’re paying for. Certified Pre-Owned vehicles are rigorously inspected to meet manufacturer standards, and include a variety of warranties you can’t get with any other vehicle. No one can guarantee that your car will never break down, but buying a used car that has already been fine-tuned to your needs and is backed by manufacturer warranties is the best way to make use of a limited budget.

Let’s look at a few examples of Certified Pre-Owned options and how they can make the most of your investment.

Certified Pre-Owned Chevy Colorado

A black 2020 Chevy Colorado is driving on a winding mountain road.

The Chevrolet Colorado is a popular mid-size truck across the country. Best of all, Chevy offers its full line up in a variety of shapes and sizes that allow drivers to choose the perfect configuration of cab, bed, and engine for their needs. That means that the used market is filled with all sorts of models, giving you free rein to be picky when it comes to selecting the best model for your budget.

The 2020 Colorado is starting to appear on the Certified Pre-Owned lots. That means “almost new” vehicles are available at used prices, with the added bonus of Chevrolet’s stamp of approval. General Motors vehicles must be within the past 6 model years, have fewer than 75,000 miles, a clean title, and pass a full 125 point inspection with completed safety recalls in order to gain the distinguished CPO title.

When you buy a Certified Pre-Owned Chevy, you’ll also get a 6-year / 100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty, roadside assistance, and a 12-month / 12,000-mile bumper to bumper limited warranty. Very few standard used cars come with that type of protection!

Chevrolet released the 2020 Colorado in five trims: Base, Work Truck, LT, Z71, and ZR2. You’ll find three engine types available, as well. The first is the standard 2.5L 4-cylinder, which offers 200 horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque. This truck is available as rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Chevy’s “next level” option engine is a 3.6L V6 engine that provides 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque, which is only available with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Lastly, diesel fans have the option of a 2.8L turbodiesel 4-cylinder that really deploys the power with 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque.

Those looking for a basic vehicle to get the job done might gravitate towards the Base, Work Truck, and LT models, but those looking for a truck with off-road power should keep an eye out for Z71 and ZR2 trims at their local CPO dealership. One of the things that set Chevy apart is the options they allow new buyers to choose. Regardless of the trim, buyers of pre-owned Colorados can find a variety of convenience options, like keyless entry, cruise control, WiFi hotspots, and more robust safety and audio components- all without having to pay new car fees.

Certified Pre-Owned Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback is another vehicle that meets the needs of many drivers. It’s rugged all-wheel drive, with plenty of space for your friends and your adventure gear. Subarus are often at the top of used vehicle value lists because they tend to last a long time. In fact, according to Subaru’s Pre-Owned site, 97% of the manufacturer’s vehicles sold in the last ten years are still being driven today!

In order to be certified pre-owned, a Subaru must be less than five years old and have fewer than 80,000 miles. It also must pass a 152-point inspection. Once that’s completed, and the vehicle has been fully refreshed, CPO buyers will not only get a next-to-new Subaru at a used price, but they’ll also receive a factory-backed 7 year / 100,000-mile powertrain coverage with a $0 deductible, 24/7 roadside assistance, a $500 owner loyalty coupon, a 3-month trial subscription to SiriusXM, and a one year trial of STARLINK Safety Plus with Automatic Collision Notification.

The 2019 Outback is starting to show up on CPO lots, bringing with it a whole lot of fun for wherever the road takes you. As part of the fifth Outback generation introduced in 2015, the 2019 model is not a brand-new release, but offers exactly what drivers need to navigate hills, valleys, mountains, and deserts. One of the key features standard on all models is the Subaru EyeSight; a driver-assist safety feature that acts as a second pair of eyes on the road without the nuances of a “back seat driver.” EyeSight starts with a set of dual color cameras mounted out of the way near the rearview mirror. From this position, they’re able to provide assistance via adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings, pre-collision braking as well as pre-collision throttle control.

The 2019 Outback also includes a lot of fun, like 8.7 inches of ground clearance, all-wheel drive with off-road-ready X-Mode, automatic headlights, Bluetooth connectivity, as well as a CD player, SiriusXM access, and compatibility with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Certified Pre-Owned Toyota Camry

A white 2018 Toyota Camry is driving past a field and distant mountain.

The Toyota Camry is a family-friendly sedan that tops nearly every best-buy list for used vehicles. It’s dependable, it’s reliable, and it’s been around for ages. They’re a familiar staple on roads around the world, and extraordinarily popular amongst drivers who need a vehicle that requires few repairs and has exceptional fuel economy.

Toyota launched its Certified Used Vehicles program in 1996, so they’ve had time to refine their expectations. To date, they’ve sold over six million CPO vehicles through their program. In order to qualify, a vehicle must be within the previous six model years, with 85,000 miles or less. A 160 point inspection is conducted, including a CARFAX vehicle history report. Included in the purchase of every CPO Toyota Camry is a 12-month / 12,000-mile limited comprehensive warranty, a 7-year / 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, one year of roadside assistance, and special access to new car financing rates, regardless of the actual age of the CPO vehicle.

The 2018 Camry generated quite a buzz upon its release, as an all-new refreshed design for the model’s 35th year. Trims include the L, LE, SE, XSE, and XLE. SE and XSE models reflect the Camry’s sportier new incarnation, with a trimmed down exterior, 18-inch wheels, paddle shifters, track-inspired sports seats, and a sport-tuned suspension. The XSE and XLE are the premium trims that add features such as dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, panoramic moonroof, keyless ignition, premium sound systems, and a Qi wireless charging system.

If a Hybrid vehicle is more your style, the 2018 Camry Hybrid includes a 2.5L 4-cylinder gasoline engine paired with a battery-powered electric motor. The trim levels remain similar to Hybrid models, with LE models featuring a lithium-ion battery, while the SE and XLE include a nickel-metal hydride version. The result is an impressive fuel economy, with LE models reaching 51 miles per gallon city and 53 miles per gallon highway, and SE and XLE following closely with 44 miles per gallon city and 47 miles per gallon highway.

While a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle may come in at the top end of your budget, they also provide the most vehicle value overall. With access to warranties, roadside assistance, and free subscriptions, you’ll appreciate that something extra right away. Furthermore, you’ll have peace of mind, knowing that the used vehicle you’re driving is backed by the manufacturer as almost new. By making sure your money is wisely invested in a vehicle that won’t turn into a lemon in a few months, you know you’re making the most out of your budget.