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.
January 22, 2015
Checking this car's engine oil level could not be easier. Or unmessy. You don't even have to open the hood. Heck, you don't even have to leave its leather-covered driver seat.
Like many luxury cars these days, our long-term 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo has no traditional oil dipstick. Instead, you check its engine oil level with a few twists and turns of its iDrive dial.
November 3, 2014
If you polled our editors about which luxury automaker's infotainment interface they like best, I don't know if you'd get a majority opinion. Personal preference plays a large part. But spending some time with our long-term 2014 BMW 328i Gran Turismo has reminded me that, of the current systems, I like BMW's iDrive the best.
October 27, 2014
Many navigation systems display a blank screen or some sort of message that implores you to wait, the proverbial spinning pinwheel or progress bar, while the computer readies the system for use. However, our 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo puts on a little Tron-inspired show while you wait. It's not much, a schematic of a cityscape that variously illuminates, but it's a nice touch that makes us feel less like we're waiting for something to happen.
October 10, 2014
This warning came up on the instrument panel and navigation screen while I was driving the 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo in heavy traffic the other day: "Objects detected on road!"
September 15, 2014
I'm one of the lucky ones. On my commute between Edmunds H.Q. in Santa Monica and Orange County, I get to drive 41 miles each way. Naturally, this gives me plenty of time to familiarize myself with each test vehicle and evaluate, in many cases, navigation systems and their real-time traffic capabilities.
I'm afraid our 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo has a case of T.M.I., or Too Much Information.
August 19, 2014
Like the rest of the world, I've hated the auto stop-start feature that's been cropping up in cars for the last couple of years. But after two days of letting it operate as intended in our 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo, I think it may be a good thing.
July 24, 2014
Playing aimlessly with the iDrive system of our long-term 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo can have its rewards, but it can also be a bit like surfing eBay Motors after a few hard lemonades. You wake up the next day with a bad headache and keen sense of regret.
So I found out.
July 02, 2014
When you order a 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo with the optional Technology package (as with our test car), it comes with a navigation system, an upgraded display screen and a head-up display. You also get BMW's latest telematics and smartphone app integration services.
But understanding exactly what you're getting with those services can be confusing.
June 16, 2014
The 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo doesn't remember me. Or rather, it doesn't remember my phone. Returning to the car with phone in pocket, the Gran Turismo often won't reconnect with my phone as an audio device. In this case, I'd slid back into the driver's seat after a visit to the car wash. I tried to launch a podcast, but no luck. The system indicated that it wasn't connected to my phone as an external audio device.
May 27, 2014
In this MP3 era, seeing the album artwork on a display is the closest thing we have to holding the CD insert and looking at it while listening to the music. In 2004, I bought a fourth generation iPod, the first to display album artwork. Despite the artwork being smaller than a postage stamp, I was blown away. Years later, I continue to be impressed whenever a car has the ability to display cover art.
May 15, 2014
I get this a lot when I drive our long-term 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo. It's a big bright glare on the window. I stays right in front of my face for long portions of my drive. And it's always that same shape.
April 17, 2014
That's right. I'm not afraid to say it. The cruise control on our 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo is the best I've ever sampled.
I should note, for the record, that I am talking about standard cruise control here. Our 3 Series GT is not equipped with the optional adaptive cruise control system that's built to maintain a following distance if other cars are present.
It starts with the controls on the steering wheel. Buttons for power, set and resume are set in an array around a thumb wheel for making speed adjustments. Roll it up or down against the detent to trim the set speed in 1 mph increments. Push past this initial resistance and you'll get a 5 mph bump.
On the instrument panel, a ring around the outer rim of the speedo contains lights that pinpoint your current set speed. Orange indicates an inactive speed that you'll get back to when you hit resume, green indicates an active speed you're at or, if you just made an adjustment, heading towards. The chosen set speed also shows up digitally and lingers for a few seconds on the head-up display whenever you make a change.
All of that is great, but it's not the best part.
April 8, 2014
Our 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo has many things.
It has a base price of $42,375. Our particular example has options such as the $2,200 Premium package and the $3,150 Technology package. This last one includes a hard-drive navigation system with a large color display.
It also has a big butt and rearward visibility that's worse than many SUVs.
Despite the large screen and the enlarged posterior, what our 2014 BMW 328i GT doesn't have is a backup camera.
March 28, 2014
The diameter of the iDrive controller on the 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo is half again as big as the one in my 2011 BMW 328i coupe. But there is a good reason for it: Its top is a touchpad that lets you write in some destination info, such as the street name, address and city, rather than dialing around the system's wheel of fortune.
March 26, 2014
Near as I can tell, you can't sync the dual-zone climate control on the 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo.
With many dual-zone systems you can hit a "sync" button so that anytime the driver changes the temp both the driver and passenger sides change to that temp automatically.