2013 BMW 320i xDrive Sedan: “X” hits the spot and then some

5 Apr 2014 | 883 views | No Comment
By Don Hammonds For those of us at Automobile Journal, the arrival of a BMW on our doorstep is an occasion for both anticipation and for celebration. We feel like celebrating because we seldom see cars with the blue and white roundel; the last time we drove a Three Series was a couple of years ago.  And BMWs make such an impression on us-- usually a very good one--that we can recall almost every single one we've driven since our founding over ten years ago. BMW's are indeed, memorable automobiles. So you can imagine our delight when we saw the snow white 2013 BMW 320i xDrive.  This one was unusual because it was free of a lot of expensive accessories that usually come with these, cars, so it was more like what somebody who had saved for years would probably buy since it was their very first BMW. Base price was $34,550, but adding the leatherette, a sports package that included alloy wheels, sport seats, M steering wheel and an Anthracite headliner, a split fold down rear seat, automatic climate control, ambiance lighting, a navigation system,.Smartphone integration, performance summer tires and a few other items brought the final price to $39,050. Standard equipment included a 2.0 liter BMW TwinPower Turbo inline four cylinder engine with High Precision Direct Injection, Valvetronic  and double-VANOS steplessly variable valve timing, Driving Dynamics Control with Eco, Pro, Comfort, and Sport settings. Other standard features include dynamic stability control including brake fade compensation, start-off Assistant, Brake Driving and Brake Stand By features, with Dynamic brake control and cornering brake control, the xDrive all-wheel drive system; front fog lights, a three spoke leather wrapped multi -functional steering wheel; Bluetooth, automatic climate control, full power accessories, dynamic cruise control, BMW ambiance lighting front and rear, rain sensing washers,  and a host of other items. When you sit in this car, the seats hold you firmly and solidly in place.  No sliding around whatsoever, and the support you feel when you're  in  place is a wondrous thing. You feel like a top driver at Daytona.  You hit the starter switch, as pleasant chimes  tell you to buckle down for one of the best experiences you can have in a compact sports luxury sedan. You shift the car into gear and you are pushed back gently in your seat as as the car does its thing--and does it superbly.  It handles like it's built on rails, and of course, hitting the highway is a joy to behold. The thick, juicy steering wheel harnesses one of the most precise, and yet, forgiving steering systems you'll see the market. And the brakes are almost peerless, stopping you instantly with not a hint of nose dive or wavering off course. While I have you behind the wheel you may as well familiarize yourself with ECO PRO, a system we loved. Controlled by switches on the console you can enjoy a system that will guide you every step of the way to better fuel economy, including offering ti0ps for better driving such as accelerate with less pressure on the pedal and to decelerate well in advance of driving situations which will force you to slow down or stop.,  Oh yes--it will also tell you when to reduce your speed for better fuel mileage. There are even plenty of informative charts and graphs, and some pretty cool drawings of the car's inner workings for you to enjoy--but we do recommend you do that only when it's safe to do so.  It is a fascinating set of displays and easy to draw your attention a bit too often. By the way, the government provides an estimate of 23/35 and 27 miles per gallon overall for this BMW.  And you save $1,100 more in fuel costs over five years compared with the average new car or truck.  Annual fuel cost is $2,100, based on 15,000 miles of driving annually at $3.80 a gallon. There are a few things about the Three that we would prefer to see modified but one of them is not the iDrive infotainment system.  BMW took a lot of scolding when it was first introduced, but it has been modified and refined over the years and it is now one of our favorite setups.  It's tremendously intuitive, with plenty of instruction and guidance if you need it.  We find it really hard to believe that anyone could possibly be tripped by iDrive in its current form. What we would wish for is a bit more rear seat room; things get very snug in the back.  And we're not crazy about the electronic gear shift; it's easy to forget a step or two until you get used to it, and that does take time. But the one thing we would truly like to see is a more reasonable way of packaging and offering accessories for BMW products.  Our tester was bereft of a number of items that we simply take for granted on luxury cars, one of them being heated seats--this during one of the coldest seasons on record-- and the lack of power seats on our tester. We suspect that many comparison shoppers would look at how much our tester cost, discover that there were some things that they may automatically expect as standard equipment that aren't, and proceed straight out the door to a competitor's dealership and buy a luxury car that does have some of these items as standard equipment. Still, our time with the BMW 320i xDrive proved to us that this car still has it, year after year, and as our headline says, it truly does hit the spot.      

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