Looking to replace your rusted out Zastava? Buying brand new is a hard pill to swallow when you start to run the numbers. Given the durability of modern powertrains, pretty much any car will make it to 150,000 miles without so much as a whimper, provided you maintain it. Taking that longevity into account, buying used, *ahem* pre-owned, is a great way to stretch what you can get for your budget. We're all aware of the cracks about used car salesmen being shifty-eyed greaseballs upholstered in horrid plaid sportcoats. We've met a few of those, but the current fashion for pre-loved cars is factory-backed programs that pluck the plums from the rotten apples, gives them a thorough once-over and placing them just across the lot from the brand new ones.

Among all of the certified used vehicle initiatives, Volkswagen and Volvo come out on top, according to Intellichoice.com. This is the fourth year in a row that Volkswagen has been ranked the best in the non-luxury category. Volvo beat out last year's winner, Cadillac, on the strength of its compliance program. Intellichoice ranks the programs based on the warranty length, rigor of the inspections, roadside assistance, and return and exchange policies, as well as how well the standards of the programs are actually enforced. Among the top finishers are previous toppers Cadillac and Jaguar, along with MINI and Hyundai. Hyundai went from the bottom of the list last year to a third place finish by changing financing deals and applying it's crushingly good 10 year warranty to used vehicles, as well. Among those aforementioned brands, we think you'll be able to find something you'll like almost as much as that Zastava.

[Source: Auto News - sub req]