By The Car Family
There is something for everyone in the BMW 328 all-wheel drive diesel wagon. For the family there is room for five and a dog or two. For the enthusiast there is the typical excellent BMW handling, suspension, and brakes. For the frugal there is the 30 mpg highway mileage and the reliability of a diesel engine. And for the adventurous that all-wheel drive makes light off-roading an enjoyable task. Of course, all these ingredients come at a cost and the wagon’s base price is just north of $40,000 BMW.
The real story is the BMW diesel engine which has a unique feature that turns off the power plant at stoplights to save fuel. It starts immediately when you remove your foot from the brake or push the accelerator pedal. BMW’s diesel starts quickly, even in colder weather, with very little chatter normally associated with such robust engines. Matted to an eight-speed automatic transmission the wagon does not have to be refueled for about 500 miles.
Mom’s view: A nice combination of practicality and sexy, this BMW even comes in an M Sport package and enough electronic programming features to keep a teenager happy for weeks. There is the iDrive infotainment system, Bluetooth connectivity, and a host of other features that make your life easier… You can even program the suspension. I left the wagon on the Comfort setting and was quite happy with the result, but I could have chosen Eco, Sport and Sport Plus. My advice is to do your homework first as the option list is extensive with an abundance of features for safety, handling, and entertainment. If you aren’t judicious with your choices the price can touch the $60,000 mark, but for that you get a car capable of most everything but driving itself. Oh, it does have an automatic parking feature if you must.
Dad’s view: An interesting choice, this wagon demands attention from those looking for the utility of a SUV and the benefits of a low center of gravity and the ability to easily achieve over 40 mpg on the highway. The ride is impressive with very little noise, and the understated interior has superior fit and finish. Interestingly, BMW has equipped the family station wagon with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters to provide control freaks a bit of fun in maximizing the diesel engine’s 280 pound-feet of torque whenever the need arises. The acceleration is very linear with surprising initial acceleration. Using the Eco mode does give you better fuel mileage, but dulls the driving dynamics. The Eco mode is best used on long stretches of divided highway.
The xDrive drivetrain is very seamless and reassuring, especially when the weather is inclement, however, going off road is really limited due to the wagon’s low clearance level. If you want to play in the dirt BMW’s SUVs are more suitable. You do pay a small premium for the diesel package, but this difference can be made up in about 30 months of normal driving due to the diesel’s better fuel economy, especially considering that most BMWs require premium fuel. Look for good resale too, because this is a fairly rare model. It is an oxymoron to label a car both sporty and frugal, but this BMW is just that. I would get the upgraded interior and have a vehicle capable of everything from ski trips to driving on Pismo beach to kidney challenging eight hour journeys without refueling.
Young working male’s view: The 328d diesel wagon requires a special additive called AdBlue that helps with emissions and needs to be replenished at normal oil change times. And don’t forget that because the diesel won’t start if it is not supplied. Essentially, that’s all that is required to enjoy the benefits of this diesel wagon. BMW’s iDrive system has a significant learning curve, but a good salesperson can provide you with some worthy tips to make the benefits easier to utilize. The display is easy to see, and the SiriusXM is very worthwhile. Interestingly, the iDrive even has a feature that enables you to draw letters and numbers with your fingers and confirms such requests by voice or visually. Interesting, but not as valuable as the optional heads-up display because it is difficult to keep this vehicle at legal speed limits. The large panoramic sunroof is nice, and the safety net is a lifesaver in emergencies. My thoughts are that the BMW buyer must decide between this and the BMW X3 or X1, which offer increased ride height and useful cargo space, but lack the handling, lower load height, and economy of the wagon.
Working woman’s view: There is adequate cargo space and the 40/20/40-split folding backseat adds more useable room as the wagon lives up to its name. As usual, BMW has a variety of option packages. I would opt for the Driver Assistance Package Plus with its backup camera, blind spot detection, lane departure warning, side and top-view cameras and proximity sensors as well as collision warning. BMW has a reputation for being well-built with excellent handling, superior braking, and performance all the while providing good fuel mileage. The wagon fits and adds the unique factor, but beware that vision to the rear is limited. Overall, I found the wagon compelling, economical, and a good friend.
Family conference: If you are looking for something a bit tidier than the ubiquitous SUV, this BMW might be just the tool. The diesel engine is well worth considering, but do your research when ordering options.
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