Company: CarMax.

Area locations: Ellicott City, Laurel, Rockville, Sterling and Woodbridge.

Number of employees: About 1,000 locally; 16,000 nationally.

Crystal Johnson knew exactly what she wanted in a used car: It had to be sporty, have fewer than 40,000 miles and cost less than $20,000.

But most of all, it had to accelerate quickly.

“I wanted something that can get up and go,” said Johnson, a buyer-in-training at CarMax’s Sterling location. “If I’m at a red light and the light turns green, it better start moving fast. I’m not one of those people who wants to sit around and wait.”

A couple of weeks ago, she found what she was looking for: a 2010 Subaru Legacy.

After a $500 employee discount, Johnson paid $19,490 for the car. She picked it up from the lot on Monday.

“It’s great, it’s actually better than what I thought it’d be like,” Johnson said.

CarMax, the national chain of dealerships, gives employees and their families $500 off any new or used car. Interested buyers can log on to the company’s Web site, find what they’re looking for and have the vehicle transferred to a location near them.

After 14 days on the lot, unsold cars at CarMax are up for grabs to employees for $300 more than cost, up to a maximum discount of $3,000.

“It’s a great benefit to take advantage of,” said Elia Imler, who handles public relations for the Richmond-based company.

Imler says both she and her sister-in-law have used the company discounts. Six years ago, Imler bought her dream car: a black Jeep Liberty.

“I’d been keeping my eye out for a couple of weeks,” she said. “And as soon as I found it, I had it transferred up from Florida.”

But best of all, she said, she paid $2,500 less than the listed price.