Jaguar and Volkswagen are top winners of IntelliChoice's annual ranking of certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle programs.

For the fourth year in a row, Jaguar is selected as the best luxury program and Volkswagen receives its first recognition from IntelliChoice for best non-luxury program.

IntelliChoice, an analyzer of automotive ownership costs and values, initiated a certified pre-owned award program six years ago because of the steep growth of CPO programs nationwide.

Sales have more than doubled, from 506,322 in 2000 to 1,230,000 in 2003 to closing in on 1.5 million this year.

The first CPO programs began in the early 1990s and the increasing demand has essentially created a new category in automotive sales. Most major auto makers now have a CPO program. IntelliChoice analyzed 24 of them, covering 29 brands.

The IntelliChoice awards are presented in the luxury and non-luxury classes. Programs are rated on a set of criteria that consumers identify as having the most value, such as manufacturer warranties, title verification, certification-inspection process and roadside assistance in addition to special financing and return exchange policies.

The top five rated programs in each class are:

Luxury Non-luxury
1. Jaguar 1. Volkswagen
2. Cadillac 2. Honda
3. Volvo 3. Mazda
4. Lexus 4. Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep
5. Audi 5. Ford

Some of the most important considerations for consumers shopping for certified pre-owned vehicles are the warranties and inspections offered by the manufacturers.

In the luxury class, Jaguar has the best warranty while Jaguar, Land Rover and Infiniti tied for the best inspection list.

In the non-luxury class, Volkswagen has the best warranty and General Motors has the best inspection list.

In addition to Jaguar and Volkswagen, other notable performances include Cadillac breaking into the top five for the first time, ranking second for best overall program in the luxury class.

In non-luxury, Mazda moved up to nearly tie Honda for second place.