Well, ladies and gentlemen, Christmas is upon us, and I've decided to celebrate in my own special way: by getting violently ill. That's right: for the last few days, I've been moving around the house with approximately the same level of energy as a three-toed sloth in a zoo enclosure. ("Look honey! There he is!! … No, wait … that's just some shrubs.")
So instead of writing a full-on column, during which I would spew snot all over my keyboard, I've decided to bring you a different kind of Christmas joy: the seven best unreliable used cars you can buy today with a CarMax warranty.
For those of you who haven't been following along, here's the deal: about two years ago, I discovered that nationwide automotive retailer CarMax (Motto: "More than just old rental cars!") offers a warranty on every single vehicle in its inventory. So I bought a 2006 Range Rover from them, and I paid extra for the warranty. The results have been predictable: it has broken, and broken, and broken, and broken, and CarMax has paid for every penny of the repairs, and now every time there's a check engine light, or a warning message, or a strange noise, I get this huge, excited smile across my face like I'm an actor in a braces commercial.
But the CarMax experience doesn't have to be limited to me. Now you, too, can get in on the action, with any one of these seven fantastic used cars that seem to be about as dependable as a meth addict. Here goes:
2007 Audi S8: $37,000
There aren't many companies crazy enough to write a warranty for a Lamborghini-designed V10 engine, but CarMax is just that level of crazy. And while the Audi S8 isn't quite a Gallardo, it's basically the next best thing: a 450-horsepower all-wheel drive luxury sedan manufactured by a company that believes the "check engine" light should illuminate as often as the "low fuel" light. If cars were people, the Audi S8 would be your friend who's always cancelling plans on short notice because he "isn't feeling well." And the CarMax warranty would be Obamacare.
2008 BMW M5: $36,000
One of the greatest Internet forum posts in history is this one, where the poster explains how the engine in his BMW M5 blew, and the warranty company covered the repair after negotiating the dealer down to "just $23,600" from an original estimate of $29,000. Think about it, folks: this could be you!! Waiting several weeks for the dealer to install a new engine. Driving around in a Nissan Versa loaner car with two hubcaps. Never really being sure if your car will be capable of taking you where you want to go. And, most importantly, laughing about it every time you push the "start" button, because it's all covered by CarMax.
2006 Cadillac XLR-V: $35,000
No, ladies and gentlemen, this isn't just your grandfather's XLR, which he takes out on sunny weekend days and occasionally uses to run over parking curbs. This is the high-performance XLR-V, which looks exactly like the standard XLR, except it has a supercharged V8 and different wheels. And it can be yours for the low, low price of $35,000, which actually strikes me as about $32,000 more than I'd be willing to pay for it. Still, here it is, in its 443-horsepower glory.
2011 Jaguar XJ L Supercharged: $41,000
In the world of automotive depreciation, it's hard to top Jaguar. Just three years ago, this long-wheelbase supercharged XJ started at $91,000 before options, meaning the original owner probably walked out of the showroom at well over $100,000 after taxes and extras. And now it can be yours for just $41,000. Why so cheap? Well, that's easy: because Jaguars have a reputation for running solidly for roughly 17 days a year. The other 348 days are spent posting on Jaguar forums, trying to figure out why the rear windows go down when you press the "next track" button on the radio. Fortunately, those fears are beneath you if you purchase this one, which is available with a full CarMax warranty.
Yes, it's true: CarMax has a CLK63 Black Series. Better yet, they only want fifty grand for it, proving that the Mercedes-Benz depreciation curve is rivaled only by Detroit-area home values. For those of you who aren't aware of these things, it's essentially a standard Mercedes CLK that's been "touring car-ified" with 507 horsepower, and rear seat delete, and a cute stubby gear lever, and fender flares the size of a lawn tractor.
2005 Porsche 911: $37,000
If you're interested in Porsches, you already know the problem with the 2005 911: the famous IMS bearing, which can – in the blink of an eye – transform a sunny, beautiful, enjoyable drive on a nice road into a blown engine and a repair bill that could buy an Acura. Admittedly, it would be a shitty Acura, like an ILX, or maybe a three-year-old MDX with Dorito crumbs between the seats. But an Acura nonetheless. Fortunately, CarMax is willing to take on the IMS fear, because they're offering this '05 911 for just $37,000 with an available warranty. My advice: buy it. Drive it hard. And sell it the week before the warranty expires.
2007 Volkswagen Touareg: $18,600
Few cars reach "Audi Allroad" status on the famous "Audi Allroad scale of unreliability," which I devised earlier this year to explain just how unreliable a car can be, on a scale of 1 to Audi Allroad. But the Touareg is certainly on the Allroad's level thanks to a series of complicated electronics, and advanced features, and luxurious equipment, absolutely none of which was tested before it went on sale. Fortunately, you don't have to worry about any of that if you spring for this one with the famed CarMax warranty.
@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.