Volvo wants you to know that its certified pre-owned cars are just as good and reliable as its new cars. Yes, every automaker will say exactly the same thing about its own product, but for 2013, only one premium automaker has the backing of Intellichoice, "the market leader in automotive ownership cost and car values analysis."
In case you missed it before, Intellichoice awarded Volvo with its CPO Best Premium Program Award. Forgive us the understatement with which we announced this news last November, but this is actually a significant award within the automotive industry. Oh, and this is the sixth straight year that Volvo has won the award.
But there's something else to this story, aside from another pat on the back to Volvo. It just so happens that Automotive.com's parent company, Source Interlink Media, also owns Intellichoice. You can imagine the hamster-wheels spinning in our heads for the cross-branding opportunity when we thought: What if, instead of getting a brand new long term vehicle, we drive and review a long term used car? And not just any used car, you see, but one with an "award-winning" CPO pedigree?
Enter the 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD. The S60 is Volvo's best-selling vehicle. And it's good, too: It recently placed second of eight in our sister magazine's premium sport sedan shootout. Also, our very own editor/photog--yours truly--drove an S60 through the high desert arena of Utah in August 2012 on an epic photo adventure. Needless to say, the exposure for Volvo has been terrific.
Yet, there's one other element to this story. Our 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD is not an ordinary used car. It is, in fact, a former press fleet vehicle. This represents the very harshest, extreme case for a CPO, for press cars are notoriously abused and tested and driven to their very limits on a weekly basis. So while our S60 came to us with a low 9,058 miles, they are in no way gentle, easygoing miles, and if this CPO Volvo can pass the test, then the average CPO should, too.
For this story, we tagged along with Volvo's west coast PR chief to Volvo of Orange County for a certified pre-owned inspection. This is the very highpoint of Volvo's CPO, says Intellichoice: "Overall, Volvo is strong in the two most important areas for a pre-owned vehicle: Warranty and Inspection. Volvo received a 100-percent Inspection score and finished among the top five for Warranty score. Volvo offers owners six years/100,000 miles of comprehensive coverage with no deductible, and most CPO vehicles receive the remaining balance on a 60-month/60,000-mile maintenance warranty. Moreover, Volvo showed no weaknesses in any significant area of the program review and finished in the top five for Used Ownership Cost score."
At Volvo of Orange County, we met the Service Manager, Mike Uchida, and his best Service Consultant, Dave Rossi, who has been a certified factory-trained, Volvo technician for more than 30 years. We watched as Dave performed the 130-point inspection, which is a 60-90 minute process. That involved a hydraulic lift to inspect the undercarriage, panels, bumpers, engine, drivetrain, cooling system, brakes, various computers to test the electrical components throughout the car, and finally, a road test to conclude. It was a process not taken lightly, giving weight to Intellichoice's CPO criteria, as noted in its press release from November:
"IntelliChoice issues the industry’s only report card for Certified Pre-Owned vehicles. Many manufacturers develop their CPO programs using the IntelliChoice.com inspection and ranking criteria as benchmarks," said Eric Anderson, Ownership Database Supervisor at IntelliChoice. "We’re proud to be setting industry standards that result in better, safer, longer-lasting pre-owned vehicles."
Dave's inspection noted that our S60 needed no adjustments or replacement parts. So far, so good.
Over the next 12 months, Automotive.com will be driving and testing the CPO Volvo S60 T5 AWD to see how well it holds up. We'll be delivering the car for normally scheduled maintenance and warranty work within that timeframe, when needed, and with no special announcement or treatment--just as a normal consumer would. Additionally, we have some exciting feature ideas in the works, and are planning a social-media blitz across several platforms for regular updates, including dedicated content for Facebook and Google+. Interested in how lead-footed we are? We'll be using the Fuelly website so that you can track our fuel mileage, as well as compare it to other similar cars. And last but certainly not least, you can follow us on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #AcomVolvo--THAT'S where you'll see all the spontaneous, low-res imagery and color quotes from the A.com editorial staff that usually won't make it into a review.
Lastly, we want to hear from you! Reach out to us via any of the above-mentioned social media platforms, or leave a comment in the box below. Got a killer road trip or feature story idea? Have a question about the testing and review process? Want to see more pictures? We're always searching for great roads and trips and places to experience and show off the rides we review for you.