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2019 BMW 330i long-term update: Making the most of the season

For fans of the great outdoors, this wasn't much of a winter in the northeastern US. Still, we made the best of it by heading out to a winter wonderland in our 330i.

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More white on the car than on the mountains this year, sadly.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

In this update to Roadshow's time with our long-term 2019 BMW 330i xDrive, I belatedly welcome it to the East Coast. It's been living here since February, kindly shuttled from Detroit by Nick Miotke on our video production team just in time for the spring skiing season -- or so I'd thought. 

Out in Michigan, after our 330i took its turn in front of the camera, it was quickly put into service behind the scenes, running as a production rig and even camera car. We didn't waste any time putting it to work out there. Likewise, I had a few road trips in mind as soon as it found its way to my driveway.

After checking with Thule, I confirmed that the rack system we used on our dearly departed XC40 would mount up just fine with a new fit-kit. So, suitably equipped, I set about getting the 330i ready for a run to the mountains.

Where the XC40 had a set of chrome rails running the length of the roof, to which the Thule rack clamps, the BMW has four integrated mounting points. Recessed within the roof and sealed beneath flip-up doors, the Thule feet attach to these four threaded holes. After a little fiddling I had the rack and the ski/snowboard attachments securely mounted, and I headed east.

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The panoramic moonroof on the 3 Series made it easy to make sure my precious cargo was still firmly attached.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

While you can stuff a snowboard inside the 3 Series sedan if you're so inclined, it's certainly more comfortable and safe to strap it on the roof. Other than a little extra noise from the rack, I hardly knew it was there, and I found new appreciation for the car's extra-large panoramic moonroof. With a glance I could make sure my 163 extra-wide snowboard was secure.

This winter was not a particularly snowy one in the Northeast, sadly. After a huge storm early in the season, the middling weather lingered through January, February and March, each month bringing occasional flurries followed by inevitable thaws. For a snowboarder who gets most of his time on the slopes in during the spring season, the result was questionable conditions at best.

More relevant to this update, another result of the unfortunate weather was unpleasant roads. My runs out to the mountains in southern Vermont were often spent dodging wheel-cracking potholes and whoop-inducing frost heaves. The 330i handled it all admirably, despite the unfortunately low profile on our Michelin X-Ice winter tires

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Authentic Vermont road grime, right there.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

Through the colder months, these tires have proven a great pairing with our 330i's xDrive system, delivering plenty of grip in slippery conditions without completely neutering the dry-road handling. Despite their imperfections, some of my favorite roads are found in Vermont, and indeed I often enjoyed the drive to and from the mountains more than the icy conditions I found upon them. And, being able to start the car warming up via my phone, before I'd even finished my last run of the day, was a real boon.

Over the nearly 12,000 miles we've put on the car thus far, we're averaging just short of 29 mpg. That's a point higher than the EPA-combined rating for our 2.0-liter, xDrive configuration. So far, the rack hasn't seemed to have a noticeable impact on economy, though with everything shut down for COVID-19 at the moment, the miles have been slower to come than usual.

At this point I think the snow has finally stopped, so I'm looking forward to getting our 330i back on its stock all-seasons to see how the handling improves. Look for more impressions on that next time, plus a deeper dive on the extensive app-based functionality offered by BMW Connected.

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