What's the difference between a brand-new Lexus and a certified pre-owned Lexus? Not much, we're finding out. Two such CPO Lexus models recently joined the KBB.com long-term fleet of test cars, including this 2015 Lexus IS 350 sedan. Our other CPO Lexus is a 2015 Lexus RX 350 SUV. You can read about that luxury crossover SUV, along with more on Lexus' CPO program, here.

Experience goes a long way

If the notion of certified pre-owned is new to you, check out our Manufacturer Certified Pre-Owned Car Programs overview, which explains in detail what each manufacturer has to offer. To summarize, a CPO is a used vehicle that has been rigorously examined and "certified" by a manufacturer to be in excellent condition. To further bolster confidence in these cars' quality, they come with a warranty, just like a brand-new car.

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Lexus calls their CPO program L/Certified, and to make the cut vehicles must be 6 years old or newer, have fewer than 70,000 miles, and undergo a 161-point inspection. They are then backed by a 24-month/unlimited-mile warranty beginning after the vehicle's original new-car warranty expires or from the certified purchase date. In our case, this 2015 Lexus IS 350 arrived with just over 7,000 miles on the odometer. It doesn't get much newer than that, especially for a Lexus, whose very name is synonymous with reliability.

F Sport Model

In addition to having the uplevel engine in the IS lineup—Lexus' resilient 3.5-liter V6 good for 308 horsepower—our CPO IS 350 long-term test model is equipped with the F Sport package ($3,740). While this option package doesn't boost power, it adds sporty flair with 18-inch wheels and summer tires, adaptive variable performance suspension, a Sport+ driving mode for snappier shifts and driving manners, and interior and exterior aesthetic upgrades. Appreciated amenities with this package also include ventilated front seats, something my wife and I took immediate advantage of on an abnormally hot spring weekend in Southern California.

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Capping off the options list are variable gear ratio steering with power-adjust steering column ($400), navigation system with Mark Levinson premium audio and Lexus Enform app suite ($2,995), and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, which is another $600 and must be built on another package. All told, the as-tested price on this car new was $48,725.

A Lexus for less

Of course, this car isn't new. It's gently used. And that works out to cost-savings for buyers. The beauty of CPO cars is that you can get a near-new car at a substantial discount because someone else has taken the hit on initial depreciation. Of course, resale value varies widely, and Lexus vehicles routinely hold their value very well. At the time of this writing, the KBB Fair Market Range valuation for this model is roughly $39,000 to $42,500. That represents a savings of up to roughly $10,000 off the car's original list price. That's a tidy savings for a near-new Lexus with what amounts to an extended warranty.

Over the 6 months we'll be racking up miles to see how this CPO Lexus holds up. Stay tuned as we report on its powertrain, efficiency, everyday practicality and more.

More 2015 Lexus IS...

See a full review and pricing information on the 2015 Lexus IS or check out its 5-Year Cost to Own.


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