Regular readers will know that I don't normally do lists. There's a reason: it's because I usually can't stay focused on one single thought for an entire column. Regular readers will know that, too.
But today I've decided to break tradition to bring you a list that's chock full o' highly important consumer advice. "What advice?" you might ask, possibly leery of that time I suggested the Lexus LS 460 is better than the Ferrari 360 because it's "100 more." Well, don't you worry, because today I'm here with some actual consumer guidance: I'm going to show you the most exciting unreliable cars you can buy today with a CarMax warranty.
For those of you who don't normally read my columns, a little background. CarMax, which is a nationwide used car retailer and also the world's leading consumer of dark blue polo shirts, occasionally offers interesting (as in, laughably unreliable) used cars for sale. This is not interesting in itself. A lot of car dealers sell laughably unreliable cars, such as, for example, any dealership licensed to sell Mercedes-Benz.
The interesting part here is that CarMax offers these used cars with an extra-cost, bumper-to-bumper warranty that lasts for six full years. This is in contrast to, say, the Mercedes-Benz Certified Pre-Owned warranty, which lasts for one year, during which Mercedes-Benz executives devote half their day to office work and the other half to praying you don't suffer catastrophic engine failure.
Now, I know about all this because I bought my own unreliable used car at CarMax – a 2006 Range Rover, which has recovered about 75 percent of its warranty cost in the first year and a half of ownership. Every time I write about this car, I get hundreds of comments, and thousands of views, and at least a few angry e-mails from what I can only assume is CarMax's warranty company.
I also always hear from many readers who send me interesting CarMax finds. So today, I've decided to make my own list for your viewing pleasure. Note that I've included both a link to the listing and a screenshot of the details, just in case one of you bastards buys the car before we can all finish reading. Here goes:
10. 2013 Audi RS5: $70,000
It has 450 horsepower. It has all-wheel drive. It has a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. And it has a grille the size of Portugal. More importantly, it's available for $70,000 at CarMax in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In fact, I'm told it's sitting in the showroom right now, according to a helpful sales associate named Phil. Phil also told me the warranty costs range from $2,299 for 6 years/75,000 miles to $3,799 for 6 years/125,000 miles, all with a $100 deductible.
The problem with a car like this is you don't want to buy it from CarMax, because it's too new. Not only is there a lot of depreciation still to come, but there's still a lot of factory warranty remaining. Instead, to get your money's worth, you'll want something like…
9. 2006 Mercedes-Benz C55 AMG: $24,000
That's right. Here we have a nine-year-old, V8-powered C-Class with 362 horsepower and 51,000 miles on the odometer for $24,000. Everything about this car should tell you to run away. And yet, CarMax beckons you: Come closer! Walk inside! Buy the V8 C-Class! Drive it fast in a straight line! Warranty prices with a $100 deductible are $3,259 for 6 years and up to 100,000 miles, or $4,189 for 6 years and up to 125,000 miles.
Speaking of old and unreliable, we have…
8. 2004 Volvo S60R: $13,600
Yes, I realize it's an automatic. I also realize it isn't that hilariously cool bright green color; the one Volvo inexplicably paired with orange seats. But still, this is the only way you can get an S60R with a decent warranty. And when it comes to the S60R, you need a warranty, as any previous owner can attest. According to Steve at the CarMax in Oak Lawn, Illinois, the warranty on this one costs $3,779 with a $100 deductible for up to 125,000 miles. That's big money, so apparently even CarMax has Volvo figured out.
On a slightly sportier front, we have…
7. 2012 Porsche Cayman R: $59,000
Now this one is the right color. It's also not your usual Cayman, but rather the high-performance Cayman R, which features a bunch of go-fast parts that I should remember better than I do, considering I worked there when it came out.
More importantly: it's a stick, it only has 25,000 miles on it, and it even has the bizarre green color carried throughout the cabin. Warranty cost with the $100 deductible: $2,949 for six years or 75,000 total miles, or $4,499 for six years and 100,000 miles.
Warranty prices are a bit cheaper with…
6. 2011 Alpina B7: $73,000
This example of BMW's high-performance luxury sedan features a sunroof, a navigation system, just 27,000 miles, and alloy wheels that will make your car wash guy want to kill you. Seriously: with alloy wheels this annoying, they'd probably factor into bets with your friends. ("OK, Jim, but if I win, you have to clean my alloy wheels… for a WEEK!")
Anyway: despite its high-performance engine, the B7 doesn't seem to scare CarMax, as they'll sell you a $100-deductible warranty for 6 years and up to 75,000 miles for just $1,949. Increase it to 100,000 miles and it's $2,449, while 125,000 is $2,959.
Speaing of BMWs, CarMax is a little more hesitant with…
5. 2008 BMW M5: $38,000
Yes, that's right: it's a V10-powered M5 with a stick shift. It also has 56,000 miles, which means it's long out of warranty, and – for most drivers – into that exciting period where you silently wonder what new item will break every single time you turn it on. Fortunately, the CarMax warranty is at your service: you can get covered with a $100 deductible for up to 100,000 miles for $3,199, or 125,000 miles for $4,099.
Want even more power? Try the…
4. 2012 Jaguar XKR-S: $85,000
Although this super Jag only has 3,600 miles on the odometer, it's already almost out of warranty due to its original date of sale in 2011. This is probably the best CarMax buy, because the mileage is so low – and that means you can really milk the warranty for all it's worth. In this case, the warranty is $2,749 for six years and up to 75,000 miles (with a $100 deductible), or $4,249 for six years and up to 100,000 miles.
Looking for something cheaper? How about…
Unfortunately, this car has already been sold. I have no idea who would buy a used Passat W8, mainly because I never had any idea who would buy a new Passat W8, and at least those came with the added bonus of a few weeks of reliability. Aging ones, as any owner can attest, are especially troublesome, and that's why I was so excited to see it pop up here. Sadly, it was not to be: the car is already gone, on its way home with a new owner. I hope they got the warranty.
But not to fear, because…
2. 2004 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet: $49,000
That's right: CarMax has a 996 Turbo available for sale right now. Unfortunately, it's a Cabriolet, and it's a Tiptronic, which means your car buddies will all think you've gone soft if you buy it. But who cares, when you're cruising around in a 10-year-old Porsche with 420 horsepower and a six year warranty?! Given that the car only has 36,000 miles on the odometer, warranty pricing here is surprisingly reasonable: you can get to 75,000 miles for $2,749, or 100,000 miles for $4,199.
So the 996 Turbo is pretty cool. But it doesn't compare to the CarMax Holy Grail:
1. 2013 Mercedes E63 AMG Wagon: $80,000
That's right: CarMax has a unicorn. And you can buy it right now for $80,000, plus warranty. Or rather, you could buy it this morning for that figure. When I called a CarMax employee somewhere in our great land for warranty quotes, he told me this one has been marked as a "demonstrator." He also told me it's in Richmond, Virginia, home to CarMax's headquarters – and that dealership employees aren't allowed to take home demos that cost this much.
In other words: the E63 AMG Wagon is being driven by a CarMax executive, who is no doubt testing it for quality, fit and finish, cargo capacity, fuel economy, and possibly the most important category: How Quickly Can a CarMax Executive Shred a Set of Rear Tires? So if you want it, you're going to have to wait until he or she is done. But trust me: it'll be worth it. Every time you mash the throttle, turn the wheel… and enter the Mercedes dealership for some warranty work.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.