Car Tech Video: 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Sports Wagon
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Car Tech Video: 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Sports Wagon

7:44 /

BMW combines performance technology and the practicality of a wagon in the new 2014 328i xDrive, but too many features can only be had as options.

It's got four-wheel drive and a lift gate, but this ain't no SUV. This is the 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Sports Wagon. BMW's new 328i is one of only a handful of wagons you can buy in the U.S. today. Americans just don't seem to like wagons even more so than hatchbacks, but let me tell you why wagons are great. So, following the wagon tradition, this BMW's Sports Wagon is built on the 3 Series platform and that's the same thing they built the M3 on which has legendary performance. So, of course, this car is gonna benefit from that. It's gonna have great handling. So, now, at the same time, we've got this cargo space back here. This wagon with the rear seats down can hold 53 cubic feet. So, wagons are a great blend of practicality and performance. Now, BMW only sells this Sports Wagon as the 328i or the 328d which is the diesel model. Now, that means both will be coming with four-cylinder engines. And xDrive is also standard on this model. That means it's got all-wheel drive. Now, let's go and take a look under the hood. Now, under the hood here, we have the latest example of BMW's 2-liter four-cylinder engine. They use this engine in everything from the 1 Series Coupe to the X3 SUV all the way up to the 5 Series Sedan. Now, this engine has some great technologies in it. It's got a twin-scroll turbocharger which cuts down on turbo lag by having the exhaust gasses from cylinders one through three spin one scroll and the exhaust gasses from cylinders two through four spin the other scroll, all that gives it more power too. BMW also uses direct injection on this, so that sprays fuel directly into the cylinders giving it a more complete burn that contributes to efficiency. All this technology helps this engine put out 240 horsepower, 255 pound-feet of torque. For efficiency, this engine does 22 miles per gallon city, 33 miles per gallon EPA rating. Now, let's check the cabin tech. BMW has all sorts of great tech features for the 328i. You can get adaptive cruise control, automatic parallel parking, even a head-up display which will show your speed and some navigation information on the windshield right in front of your eyes. This car doesn't have any of that. BMW sent us a totally stripped down version, no cabin tech options at all. So, this is as base as you get. Even as base as you get that, you do get the screen here, this LCD up here which, without the navigation option, shows you the stereo stuff and the telephone and all that, so-- but use this iDrive controller down here and go to the telephone menu, got an iPhone paired up to these things so I can see my phonebook and I can dial numbers using this iDrive controller. Go back to the main menu and I've got my radio item here and that will give me AM/FM HD, but it won't give me satellite radio because that's an option. In the console here, I've also got this Y-adapter. It's got a 30-pin iPhone connector on this side and then also an AUX input and a USB port here. It's kind of old style. I hate these things because they don't work with the newer iOS devices. They don't have Lightning connector, so you actually have to use another adapter on top of that and the sound quality really starts to suffer with that. So, I'm really surprised BMW still uses this on a 2014 model. Now, I could also get some app integration here, play online sources like Pandora and MOG and stuff like that, and even see Facebook and Twitter updates on this screen here, but that's an option, not in this car. See a trend here? On the console, I've got the shifter. This is a standard BMW shifter for their automatic transmission. This is an eight-speed automatic. I've got the standard push forward for reverse, pull back for drive, push into the side for manual mode and the Sport gate. And next to it, I've got this rocker switch which takes me through the different drive modes. I've got Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus. Now, if I move it down to Eco Pro, that's gonna get me the best mileage. I could actually set some of the parameters for that on the screen here. Now, climate control is gonna be a big suck on your fuel economy, so this will actually de-tune the climate control a bit. If you can get away with it, it's a nice way to get yourself a few more miles per gallon. This car actually has the Dynamic Handling Package so that means it's got an adaptive suspension, so I can choose whether to have the chassis go into Sport mode and the drivetrain go into Sport mode or have them both. Of course, I'm gonna have them go on to both Sport mode for drivetrain and chassis. So, right now, I'm in Eco Pro mode and I pulled up to a stop, put the brakes on, foot brake on stop, and the engine shut down. That's the idle-stop feature that they have on this car to save the gas in the city. So, as soon as I lift off the brake pedal, the engine got a cough and picks up again. But now, I flip the rocker switch to Sport mode, and suddenly, the throttle gets a lot more sensitive. Even just holding the throttle steady and switching it to Sport mode, I suddenly feel this little burst of power here because the car is letting me get away with more with this throttle, letting me do more with it, so-- Yeah, I really like that adaptive suspension 'cause this, I feel, makes the car become more like what I expect of BMW. Plus, of course, it's got the eight-speed automatic transmission. And to complete the whole Sport mode settings, I might wanna throw this over into the Sport gate. It's not a super aggressive Sport mode I've found. It's okay. It will definitely keep the engine speed up a little more especially when you drive it hard and you really press down. And of course, I've also got the transmission in its Sport mode right now, but I can also use the paddles on the wheel here to shift it manually. It has a little bit of automatic transmission torque converter lag, but generally, it's pretty good. The best thing I've found about this car that I like, this has an electrically-boosted power-steering and I really like the heft of the wheel. The wheel's got really good weight and really good response. I like that part of it and I think, you know, that's gonna be your sort of rubber meets the road part of the car. When you're driving it, you're really gonna feel that, notice that, it's the essential BMW-ness of the car. Now, obviously, I like wagons and I've been a BMW fan for years, but I'm not crazy about some of the stuff the company's been doing lately. They've kind of instituted sort of a pay-to-play model. Now, with this 2014 328i Sports Wagon, its base price is $41,450. Fortunately, this one came with that $1,000 Dynamic Handling Package that gets you the adaptive suspension and also the sport steering system that helps the handling quite a bit too. This car also has an M Sports Package that's $3,850, but adds a few handling features, a few sport stuff, but also a lot of cosmetic stuff. I don't know if I'd get that. So, let's start over with this car. To do it up CNET style, well, I first would definitely still have the Dynamic Handling Package. I'd also add the Technology Package. That's $3,150 and that gets you the voice command, the app integration, even the navigation system, so that would give you a lot of the cabin tech that you want. I'd also add the Driver Assistance Package which gives you a rearview camera that's $950, kind of pricey but good to have. And on top of that, I'd also add the Harman Kardon audio system, $850, that's gonna make the stereo sound quite a bit better. And finally, for those long highway trips, I'd add adaptive cruise control, that's $1,200 option. So, all in, we're just over $51,000, still kind of pricey, but this car's gotta feel like a BMW and it's gonna have CNET style technology.

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