buying: Honda Targets Used Car Shoppers with Certified Pre-Owned Program

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  • In a contentious, pricey used-auto market, Honda is looking to win new buyers by expanding its own Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) offerings.
  • The new HondaTrue Used and Acura Precision Used programs will include vehicles up to 10 model years old (as well as newer ones, like the 2018 Civic Si coupe shown above).
  • The goal is to get first-time buyers and other used-car shoppers into Honda dealerships where they can get a Honda limited warranty, rather than buy from one of the online sellers that are out there now.

Honda is putting its reputation for reliability on the line while simultaneously looking to cash in on the presently red-hot used-car market. The Japanese automaker just launched HondaTrue Used, a nationwide Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program available on Honda vehicles that are up to 10 model years old and with no limit as to the number of miles they've covered.

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A nearly identical CPO offer is being offered by Honda’s luxury division, Acura, under the title Acura Precision Used.

Both programs are aimed at car shoppers stymied by the soaring cost of late-model used cars in this post-pandemic era. The companies hope to capture a customer group that has been forced into older models but would still rather have the added peace of mind that makes CPO vehicles attractive, if slightly pricier than typical older used cars and trucks.

honda cpo © Honda honda cpo

In the case of HondaTrue Used, the program includes a 112-point inspection by a certified Honda technician, along with perks like 100 days/5,000 miles of warranty coverage, a year’s worth of roadside assistance, three months of SiriusXM satellite radio (if applicable), and a three-day vehicle exchange program. Acura Precision Used has similar benefits, though with a slightly longer warranty of six months/7500 miles, whichever comes first.

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Dan Rodriguez, American Honda's Head of Used Car and CPO, explained to Car and Driver that the goal of HondaTrue Used is about more than shifting more cars off dealership lots. "We think the best place for a customer to experience our brand is at one of our dealerships. In a perfect world, we see this as leading a customer on a journey through our brand."

From Honda's perspective, this means today's used-car shopper could eventually migrate to one of the automaker's two higher tiers of CPO vehicles, or a brand-new car at some point down the road. "Quite honestly, we think the timing [of HondaTrue Used] is amazing," Rodriguez added, in regard to the current tumultuous state of the new and used car market.

Automotive sales have been significantly affected by pandemic shutdowns, microchip shortages, and, just recently, even parts supply issues due to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. To compensate, many carmakers trimmed production and refocused on building their most lucrative models. The shortage of new vehicles has caused demand to rise for used cars and trucks. As a result, prices have skyrocketed over the past year. As we previously reported, transaction prices for used cars were 40.5 percent higher in January 2022 than in 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index Summary.

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Dan Rodriguez said a HondaTrue Used shopper will be less particular about perfection, that nearly-new level of quality typical of many CPO offerings, including Hondas. Honda True Certified, Honda's standard CPO program, presently covers vehicles from the 2017 to 2022 model years and carries a limit of 80,000 miles. "With [HondaTrue Used], we're expecting cosmetic issues are not as much a part of the car shopping process," Rodriguez explained.

By this he means tiny door dings, paint scratches, or interior wear typical to a decade-old vehicle won’t be the deal breakers they might otherwise be on a vehicle only a few model years old.

A HondaTrue Used vehicle's multi-point checklist focuses more on mechanical and safety issues, such as brake pads or suspension components, for example. The vehicle's completed inspection is digitized and can be viewed by a potential Honda shopper, so they know exactly which areas needed attention.

Honda isn't alone in zeroing in on the lucrative used-car market. Last year, Ford launched its Ford Blue Advantage CPO program on vehicles up to 10 years old, and with a maximum of 120,000 miles showing on the odometer. Then there are large-scale used car buyers and resellers, such as Carfax and Carvana. Each is even more open ended in terms of the age and mileage of their used-car inventory and, of course, their offerings run the full gamut of all makes and models.

With this in mind, Rodriguez had one caveat to add for anyone considering HondaTrue Used, or Acura Precision Used. When asked if the programs covered every Honda vehicle, Rodriguez's prompt response was, "Not the NSX." To all those bargain-hunting hybrid supercar shoppers out there, you'll have to dig for a deal elsewhere.

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