February 17, 2015
Day 4: Willcox, Arizona to Lake Forest, California, 562 miles.
Although I guess you could say I was "working" on a Saturday for the last day of my Austin Road Trip, the nice thing about driving on the weekend is that there isn't so much of a "rush hour" period that you have to make sure to avoid. I veered off Interstate 10 to Interstate 8 West toward San Diego, but to be honest it's a crapshoot as to how bad traffic will be down there, too.
The 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo and I hit considerable rain all morning in Arizona, but the GT pushed through without any trouble. As I mentioned previously, this is a solid and stable car. It gives you a good sense of security to press on at reasonable speed even in less-than-perfect road conditions.
But the day wasn't without problems.
February 16, 2015
Day 3: Austin, Texas to Willcox, Arizona, 871 miles.
This being my second road trip to Austin in the past six months, I wanted to do something other than slog along Interstate 10 west on the way home. So I came up with a plan: I would head northwest in the 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo to some mountain roads in southern New Mexico and Arizona, the same ones Automotive Editor Dan Frio and photog "Krazy" Kurt Niebuhr took during their trip back from Houston in our long-term 2015 Audi A3.
I planned it all out the night before I left Austin, including a texting conversation with Frio (no way was I actually going to talk on the phone with that dude, that would be nuts) for road specifics and recommendations for lodging.
But then I checked the weather forecast. The parts of New Mexico and Arizona I was heading for, which were at significant elevation, were going to be getting something like a half-foot of snow during the time I'd be driving through. Snowy conditions, mountain roads, elevation...even with the Gran Turismo's all-wheel drive I just didn't have it in me, especially without snow tires or chains. There was potential for disaster, not to mention hours and hours of slow going.
I needed a new plan.
February 12, 2015
Day 2: Deming, New Mexico to Austin, Texas, 689 miles.
Getting through El Paso, Texas is one of the worst parts of the road trip to Austin. The traffic is always thick and slow, and by sure dumb luck (with the emphasis on "dumb") the 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo and I were trying to get through right at morning rush hour.
Google Maps re-routed me around a good portion of the city on a mountainous loop. Of course I blindly followed its instructions. This took me well outside of the city, and I'm not sure it was any faster. Quite a bit more scenic, though, and considerably less aggravating. We'll call it a win.
Once past El Paso the trip got much better, even though west Texas isn't exactly known for its scenic beauty. I definitely like the 80 mph speed limit on Interstate 10 and the wide-open, plenty-of-space character.
February 11, 2015
Day 1: Lake Forest, California to Deming, New Mexico, 692 miles.
I'm not sure why I keep getting sent to Austin, Texas for press drive events. What with the state capital's unofficial slogan of "Keep Austin Weird," the bosses might have been thinking, "Let's see, Monticello is a weirdo, if we send him there enough maybe he'll finally find a place he fits in."
Regardless of the reasoning, I was on another road trip to Austin, this time in our long-term 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo, as opposed to the 2014 Volkswagen Passat TSI I took on my previous trip to the Lone Star State.
Since it's about a 1,400-mile journey, I'd take two days to get there, just like last time. Ah yes, but unlike the last trip, which saw me procrastinate and not hit the road until 1:30 p.m., this time I was determined to get going much earlier.
And you know what? Mission accomplished.
February 6, 2015
During the month of January we put 4,350 miles on our 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo. We averaged 26.3 mpg for the month on 165.5 gallons of mostly 91 (but a few fill-ups of 93, when out of state) octane fuel, helping the car's lifetime fuel economy average rise from 23.1 mpg to 23.7.
That high (for us) monthly average was aided by a road trip to Austin, Texas and back. Look for more on that soon. The 26.3 mpg average for the month means the Gran Turismo achieved the EPA's estimated combined average of 26 mpg for the 328i xDrive, but of course there were considerable highway miles along the way.
Our worst tank for the month was 18.6 mpg, our best was 32.7 (during that Texas road trip) and our best range for the month was 448.3 (also during the road trip).
January 8, 2015
See the stats after the jump...
December 2, 2014
It was a fuel-efficient Thanksgiving holiday weekend for the 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo and my family as we managed a thoroughly impressive 31.9 mpg in a mix of highway and Los Angeles city driving. That's only 1.3 mpg off its best tank ever. Color me impressed.
I'll also be patting myself on the back as it was most assuredly my thriftiness that contributed to the 3 GT's lifetime fuel economy being bumped up to 23.2 mpg from 22.8. Huzzah!
November 6, 2014
October was a pretty quiet month for our 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo as we added only around 650 miles. Those miles were spent just commuting around Southern California as well.
For the month, we averaged 22.2 mpg. I've also got an explanation about last month's low 9.8 mpg entry.
October 7, 2014
We've reached a new low in our 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo. Our worst tank is now at 9.8 mpg, which also helped drop our overall lifetime fuel economy to 22.8 mpg.
September 4, 2014
In the month of August, our long-term 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo added a tick more than 1,500 miles to its odometer while consuming just shy of 70 gallons of 91-octane. The abacus says it delivered 21.6 miles per gallon for the month.
August 28, 2014
Get used to automatic start-stop systems like the one on our 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo because they're only going to become more widespread in years to come. Such systems are quickly gaining favor as a fuel-saving and pollution-reducing measure because they temporarily shut down the engine when a vehicle is going nowhere at stoplights.
The basic logic of the concept is hard to argue with, but anything that's this much of a departure from the norm is bound to earn itself a heaping helping of detractors. Some can't get past the feeling that their engine just stalled. Others can't stand it when their car does something they didn't initiate. And there will always be those that give a thumbs-down to anything that stands in the way of a quick getaway.
For them there's an off button.
But what are the disablers missing out on? Are the fuel savings big enough to be noticeable or is this just another one of those theoretical decimal-place increases that automakers chase after because they're desperate for anything that can nudge their CAFE score up a peg?
I cooked up a test to see if I could find out.
August 6, 2014
It's the summer traveling season, but our 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo hatchback failed to find its way onto the open road much this month. Only 1,330 miles got added to its odometer, and a substantial fraction of them were in-town city miles.
But not every single mile was driven in city traffic, of course. Some of them had to be freeway miles. We just don't know how many.
Whatever the mix, this month's average of 18.7 mpg is not a good number. It falls well short of the BMW's 22-mpg City mpg rating, and it pales in comparison with the Gran Turismo's 26-mpg combined rating. Theoretically, our unknown city-heavy driving mix should fall somewhere between the two, not below the lowest one.
What's up? There are a couple of theories.
July 03, 2014
The lifetime fuel economy of our 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo has gone up by two tenths to 24.1 mpg in a month. That means we're within 2 mpg of the EPA combined figure. Our best tank and best range records remained unbeaten, but it's hard to think that 497 miles and 33.2 mpg ever will be.
June 5, 2014
With just over 11,000 miles now on the clock, our 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo has racked up another 3,000 miles in the month of May. The best mpg, worst mpg and best range numbers all stood pat, while the average mpg nearly did. The latter dropped a mere tenth of an mpg.
May 6, 2014
Since our last fuel economy update, the 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo has added more than 4,000 miles to its odometer. Over that distance we've managed the best range thus far (497.1 bladder-busting miles), the most efficient tank (33.2 mpg), the least efficient (14.9 mpg) and upped the lifetime fuel economy up considerably to 24 mpg.
That still falls below its EPA combined estimate of 26 mpg, though in March we ran the GT on our 116-mile Edmunds evaluation loop where it returned 27 mpg.
April 18, 2014
Depending on what drive setting you select, sport, normal or "Eco Pro," the 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo has very different personalities. In sport, I'm an impatient lane changer. In normal, I'm relaxed until I see some open road, then I explore the German heritage of this sport sedan. But when the freeways are clogged I'm a mellow Eco Pro guy.
This morning's 32-mile commute restricted me to a blazing top speed of 35 mph. So I switched into Eco Pro and watched my bonus miles begin to build. By the time I reached the office I had amassed a whopping 1.3 bonus miles. What, may you ask, are bonus miles?
April 4, 2014
The trip back south from Oregon wasn't as rushed as the northern leg had been. We wanted to get home, but we were too frazzled to drive back on high alert.
So after our first California fuel stop in sleepy Yreka we decided to set the cruise control at a reasonable speed in the low 70's, settle in and let Interstate 5 stream past.
March 13, 2014
The call was unexpected. My brother and I had to get ourselves up to Oregon in short order, but air travel wasn't going to work because of flight schedules, the remote location of our ultimate destination and other complications. We had to drive.
If we left right now we'd get there about the same time (if not earlier) than airline travel because we could drive through the night. Once there we'd have our own wheels and we could depart on our own schedule when the situation improved.
Our route would mimic the one I followed on my most recent holiday road trip in the Tesla Model S. But this time the Tesla wouldn't do. Superchargers are plenty fast enough for vacation travel, but this was no vacation. We were staring down the barrel of a drive-straight-through run for the border.
I chose the 2014 BMW 328i xDrive GT because it isn't terribly thirsty and has a decent-sized 15.8-gallon tank. I also liked the idea of xDrive all-wheel drive because there was a chance we'd encounter snow and ice over the many interstate summits we would cross — a good chance because the forecast called for rain, and rain can turn to snow at altitude in early March.
We departed L.A. in the early afternoon. Our estimated arrival time was the wee hours after midnight so there was no reason to drive like idiots. We'd run a reasonable pace and stop as infrequently as possible for food and gasoline.
March 6, 2014
Our 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo has a Start-Stop feature on three of its four drive settings. I always find this feature disruptive so I usually turn it off.
March 5, 2014
This 2014 BMW 328i GT hatchback is so new to us, it's not fair to report the fuel mileage numbers on so few fill-ups. After discounting the track testing fills, I was left with two tanks to calculate the numbers.
We're averaging 21.3 mpg in combined driving. That's a few miles off from the EPA estimates. But we have a whole year to show improvement.