2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo Long-Term Road Test

2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo: The Ultimate BMW Family Machine?

June 24, 2014

2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo

If BMW made a minivan, my update here would end immediately. You can't beat a big box on wheels with sliding doors for maximum family-oriented versatility and practicality. But, of course, BMW doesn't make a minivan (much to the relief of BMW enthusiasts everywhere.)

But that does lead to the question: What's the best vehicle in BMW's current lineup for families? Could it be our 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo?

As always, the definition of "best" could be quite varied and dependent on what family we're talking about. Maybe the old X5 M crossover SUV would be your ultimate BMW family truckster. Nonetheless, I'll lay out five points on why I think our Gran Turismo could be the best choice for a lot of folks.

The hatchback. Yes, the Gran Turismo's hatchback body style does lead to some awkward proportions. But you can't argue against the versatility and cargo-loading ease that it provides. For daily family use (think groceries, soccer gear and strollers), it's great.

Car agility. True, you can carry bulkier items in BMW's X3 or X5. But neither of those "car-like" crossover SUVs has the handling agility offered by the lower-sitting 3 Series Gran Turismo.

Standard all-wheel drive. If it's wet-weather traction you're worried about, which would have most people thinking "SUV!" BMW still has you covered. All-wheel drive is standard equipment.

Big back seat. "So what about the 3 Series wagon?" you say. Good point. It also has standard AWD and certainly looks better. But the Gran Turismo, besides being easier to load items into, has the advantage of enhanced rear seat space. If you've got lanky teenagers or small children in need of bulky rear-facing child safety seats, the GT is what you want.

Good fuel economy. The 328i Gran Turismo has an EPA combined driving estimate of 26 mpg. Yes, the 3 Series wagon can match that, or better it with its available diesel. But the X3, X5 and 5 Series Gran Turismo are all worse. So is the marginally quicker yet more expensive 335i GT.

What do you think? Have I made a strong case for the Ultimate BMW Family Machine?

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 11,802 miles


  • vvk vvk Posts:

    Cargo capacity pretty small. I would go for an X3 instead. Or a 5GT. But frankly, since manual transmission is not available, I don't see the point. Just get a minivan.

  • For me, it begins and ends with the single most unique part of the car, and no, it's not the hatch. The wagon has a nice tailgate and folding seats as well. It's all about the back seat and I still don't understand why this hasn't been more of a focus. You can put two adults in the back of a 3 sedan and pretend they are happy back there, and maybe they are if they are maybe 5 foot eight or less and so is the driver. With this car, putting two adults or tall teens in the back is a non-issue. You don't have to worry about moving your seat forward or even asking if anybody has enough room back there. Yes, the car is compromised in terms of appearance, though I still don't consider it that off-putting. It may not be quite as sharp as a 3 sedan, but its sharper than an X3. For an overall family vehicle which still drives more like a BMW, and doesn't cost $70,000, this is probably the best.

  • iamthestig iamthestig Posts:

    I agree -- this is the ultimate BMW family machine. I've posted here before that the long wheelbase makes this very attractive to me. I like the look of LWB cars, and I tend to keep my driver's seat pretty far back making extra rear-seat legroom very valuable. Until BMW offers a long-wheelbase 3-series wagon, this is the one for me. I would instantly choose the 3GT over an X3.

  • legacygt legacygt Posts:

    Must be because I'm starting to see these all over the place. Unlike the 5 Series GT which thankfully I see only rarely, the 3 Series GT is popping up like crazy. It must be resonating in the marketplace for some reason and maybe the family appeal is it. The standard 3 series (even in wagon form) really isn't the right size for families once you start installing the car seats and loading up the strollers but maybe the extra wheelbase here makes the difference.

  • ebeaudoin ebeaudoin Posts:

    I actually like the looks of the 3GT. The 5GT is ghastly, but somehow, scaled down for the 3, it works.

  • herrstreet herrstreet Posts:

    This was a car that was on my short list. But all the BMW's I compared either hadn't done the small-overlap or had severely injured drivers. I'd just been in a similar wreck so I wasn't going to invite lighting to strike twice. I think this car could look a lot better, the softness of the window lines top and bottom and the hofmeister kink do the proportions of this car absolutely no favors. It's very similar to that awful accord suv thing that Honda sells. The utility of the car is fantastic though, and it's priced pretty much equal to the wagon.

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