The day has arrived, the moment is here, the search is over: I have a new daily driver, and it’s a 2012 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Wagon. This may excite you, but it doesn’t excite anyone as much as my wife, who cares very little about the E63 Wagon but was tired of me browsing Autotrader listings at meals.
Yes, the search was a long one; a difficult battle to find the perfect vehicle. I tried not to share the ins and outs of the search with you, the reader, too much, since this one was personal: Unlike my frequent "DougCar" competitions, where I find the right car to entertain you, I needed this car to be right for me. So I had all this criteria, and it eventually led to the E63 AMG Wagon, and today I’m going to explain how that happened.
But before I do that, one other quick note about my car. I bought it last week in Minneapolis. I live 1,200 miles away, in Philadelphia. While lesser people would’ve shipped the thing, I instead decided to undertake the Great American Road Trip, by which I mean I didn’t stop even one time in Ohio. This means that yes, I drove 1,200 miles in a 520-horsepower station wagon that I had purchased two days earlier. More on that in a bit, too.
First, I must cover the decision-making process. If you’re not interested in my personal car choices, I completely understand, and you can now push the "back" button on your browser and go read something far better, written by Chris O’Neill. But just in case you’re curious what goes through the mind of someone who buys a 520-hp station wagon, here’s the deal. It was absolutely time to replace my old Range Rover, which is nearing the end of its CarMax warranty period and is also hopelessly outdated in terms of technology. I’ve given it to my wife, who doesn’t really drive, except now she’ll drive every few weeks over to the local Land Rover dealer.
So when I sat down a few months ago and started to figure out what I should get next, I decided what I really needed was an SUV, all-wheel drive and a 360-degree camera system.
The E63 wagon isn’t an SUV, it doesn’t have all-wheel drive, and it has no 360-degree camera system.
I did well.
Admittedly, I also wanted a few other things — including a long warranty, adaptive cruise control, a "special" car and dramatically improved performance compared to my Range Rover. So my first stop was CarMax, who frequently have at least a couple examples of my "most wanted vehicles" in their inventory.
Choice number one was the first-generation BMW X5 M — but I only wanted Estoril Blue, and CarMax never seems to get blue ones. (At one point in my search, they had five X5 Ms, all black.) It was also tremendously hard to find an X5 M with adaptive cruise control and a 360-degree camera, and I’d need to switch to winter tires and wheels, since it came with large wheels and summer tires. I kept it on my list — but absent a blue one, I wasn’t biting.
Choice number two was the 2012ish Porsche Cayenne Turbo. I really liked the Cayenne Turbo on paper: It was offered with adaptive cruise control, it has amazing engine power, and it’s very nimble and light on its feet. Unfortunately, I like my SUVs boxy, and the Cayenne Turbo has too many soft curves for me. For the same reason, I eliminated the Porsche Macan.
Choice number three was the Mercedes GL63 AMG, which is a 7-seater SUV with over 500 hp. The GL63 had it all: It came with all the features I wanted, it was an SUV, it had better performance than the Range Rover, and it’s certainly "special" — so special, in fact, that part of me thinks it’s even cooler than the E63 wagon. The only problem was price: The GL63 cost over $120,000 new, and it hasn’t yet lost enough value to become "Doug Affordable"; all the ones I wanted were at least $65,000, which is about $80,000 out the door with the warranty and taxes.
And then there was the other problem: the CarMax warranty. In 2012, I bought 6 years of Range Rover warranty coverage with no deductible for $3,899. When I called on a Cayenne Turbo and a GL63 AMG, CarMax was offering just 5 years of warranty coverage for between $6,000 and $8,000 — including a $150 deductible. You might still come out ahead on that warranty over time, but it’s a huge amount of money to shell out up front — especially since you pay sales tax on the warranty, too. In the end, I was adding $11,000 to the listed price of every CarMax vehicle to cover taxes and warranty, meaning that a "bargain" $45,000 Cayenne Turbo was suddenly a not-so-budget-friendly $56,000 vehicle.
That’s when the E63 AMG Wagon started coming into my periphery. I found a certified pre-owned example for sale at Mercedes-Benz of Maplewood, in the Minneapolis area, and I initially dismissed it because the dealer was asking $49,700. Eventually, it dropped to $47,700, and finally $45,700, at which point I couldn’t wait anymore: I called, negotiated over the phone, and bought it a few weeks ago for $44,000. I also sprung for 2 additional years of bumper-to-bumper Mercedes-Benz certified pre-owned warranty coverage, giving me 3 years total. It’s not the 5 years CarMax was offering, but CarMax never seems to get E63 AMG wagons. Plus, Mercedes’ CPO warranty has no deductible — and the cost was much lower, at around $4,000.
So why did I go all the way to Minneapolis to get it? Namely because it was the only certified pre-owned E63 AMG Wagon from this body style for sale in the entire country. Truly — there was just one, and this was it. This is also why I overlooked the color combination, which is really horrid: a white exterior (which is fine) with a beige and light brown interior (which is not). It’s a truly insipid combination for a high-performance car — but for $44,000, with 3 years of warranty, and all that technology, and 520 hp…
Of course, the purchase of this car presents a little problem: It’s a high-performance, rear-wheel-drive vehicle, and I live in a place that has a relatively wintry climate for at least a few months out of the year. Interestingly, the previous owner of this car also saw this as a problem (no surprise, as he was in Minneapolis), and he planned for it: The AMG Wagon came standard with 19-inch wheels, but he special-ordered 18s so he could install winter tires. In a few months, I plan to do the very same thing — and then I’ll let you know how an E63 AMG Wagon fares in the snow. Right now, I’ll let you know another interesting fact: In 1,200 miles of piloting this thing from Minneapolis to Philadelphia, I saw a respectable 21.73 miles per gallon — and, during one particularly long run, 400 miles of range between Elkhart, Indiana, and Somerset, Pennsylvania.
Eventually, I made it home — and over the next few months, I’ll be getting to know my first new daily driver in 5 years. My wife, meanwhile, will be getting to know the Land Rover service advisor. Find a 2012 Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.