The modestly spec'd BMW Sport Wagon doesn't attract attention to itself, but it's an excellent driver and matches efficiency with pretty good performance.
This is the 2014 BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon.
From some angles, it looks pretty much identical to the sedan.
In M Sport trim, the wagon's front end picks up a few aggressive styling cues.
All 328d Sports Wagons feature xDrive all-wheel drive.
Rear-drive M Sport cars feature a sport suspension that's 20mm lower, but the xDrive Sports Wagon firms up while retaining its standard ride height.
The interior is standard fare 3 Series. Our example didn't come with many optional features.
Under the hood, you'll find a 2.0L turbo diesel engine.
The driver can select between four driving modes -- Sport, Sport+, Comfort, and Eco Pro -- which alter the characteristics of the car's performance.
The only gearbox that is available on the 328d Sports Wagon is an 8-speed automatic transmission. Fortunately, it's a pretty good auto-box.
Power is stated at 180 horsepower. Torque is a much higher 280 pound-feet.
The xDrive all-wheel drive system defaults to a 40:60 rear-biased torque split.
It's a bit longer and wider than a BMW X1 crossover, but is significantly closer to the ground.
A motorized rear hatch is standard on the 328d Sports Wagon.
Interestingly, while the X1 has significantly more cargo space with the rear seats upright, the 3 Series Sports Wagon has nearly the same amount of total cargo space when the seats are folded flat.
A cargo management system is hidden in one of two underfloor storage spaces.
The cabin is driver centric and comes standard with a 6.5-inch iDrive infotainment system.
The iDrive interface has gotten so much easier to use over the years, but there are still times when I get frustrated with how it hides certain options.
The iDrive controller sits on the center console and is easy to reach and understand while driving.
Without the optional Technology package, the iDrive system only really displays information about the current audio source or fuel economy info.
The M Sport package swaps in an M Sport steering wheel that is trimmed in leather, has a thicker rim, and a smaller diameter.
The amber on black instrumentation is simple and to the point.
Push button start is standard, but smart keyless entry isn't, which is odd. Here is also where you can enable or disable the Auto Stop-Start fuel saver system.
A wide variety of infotainment and driver aid technologies are available, but adding them all can push the price of the Sports Wagon uncomfortably high.
The M Sport package upgrades to 18-inch wheels, but this all-wheel drive model sticks with all-season tires, rather than stickier summer rubber.
The M Sport package also adds an adaptive suspension and variable assist electric power steering. The car's handling and steering effort goes from firm and sporty to smooth and easy with the flip of a switch.
Though steerable Xenon headlamps are available as an option, fixed halogen beams are standard and equipped.
The 2014 BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon is a bit of a sleeper. It doesn't attract a lot of attention, but the torquey diesel and grippy suspension and chassis can be a joy to drive.
'Tis the season for a gadget upgrade
Check out these 8 tablets you'll want to bring home for the holidays.