Monthly Update for April 2018 - 2018 BMW 540i xDrive Long-Term Road Test

2018 BMW 540i xDrive Long-Term Road Test

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2018 BMW 540i xDrive: Monthly Update for April 2018

by Brent Romans, Senior Editor

Where Did We Drive It?
April was a continuation of driving patterns we've established in previous months with our 2018 BMW 540i. Most of us used it for commuting to the office and getting around on the weekends, which racked up about 1,400 miles of driving and helped generate our comments on performance, ride comfort and technology. Overall, I'll just note that from my standpoint our 540i is a winner. It's classy and enjoyable to drive, just as I'd expect a BMW luxury sedan to be.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
We didn't have any significant changes to our BMW 540i's fuel economy in April. The sedan is holding steady at around 22 mpg in combined driving. I'm still impressed by our best fill of 32.2 mpg, which happened last December when I drove the BMW about 285 miles on the highway. Just set the cruise control at a reasonable speed to get truly impressive numbers with this car.

Average lifetime mpg: 22.6
EPA mpg rating: 23 combined (20 city/29 highway)
Best fill mpg: 32.3
Best range: 480.5 miles
Current odometer: 10,288 miles

Maintenance and Upkeep
We took the 540i to Irvine BMW for service at around 9,000 miles per its insistent requests in the maintenance minder. The 540i, like many modern BMWs, factors in driving habits when determining a service interval. The regular service included an oil change, oil filter change and tire rotation.

While there, we asked the dealer to check on a recurrent Apple CarPlay issue, when the screen will often freeze while engaging CarPlay wirelessly. The only fix we've found is to disconnect then reconnect the offending smartphone from CarPlay. No surprise, the dealer couldn't replicate the issue. The service visit was complimentary, and Irvine BMW even offered an Uber shuttle service to and from the dealer. (We didn't need it and declined.) We'd go back again.

Logbook Highlights

Performance
"This car is deceptively quick. It's not like it's hiding it. It's just that you're surrounded by comfort and class, and that makes you forget that you have such a potent engine. Once you put the throttle down, boom! You take off like a rocket. Such a great car to drive." — Rex Tokeshi-Torres, vehicle testing technician

2018 BMW 540i xDrive

"I really like our 540i's eight-speed automatic transmission. Left in Drive, it is pleasingly smooth-shifting and responsive. But I also enjoy how easy it is to further adjust the transmission for sportier performance. You can move the shift lever to the Sport mode or use the 5 Series' adjustable drive settings; both adjust the transmission's shifting patterns. There are also paddles on the steering wheel for manual gear shifting. When you mat the gas and click through the gears manually, the shifts are super quick and firm. It's like having a sports car's dual-clutch automatic. The rev-matched downshifts are really smooth, too. All in all, it just adds to this car's dual-nature character." — Brent Romans, senior editor

"When placed in its Sport driving mode with the firmed-up suspension tuning, our 540i is surprisingly fun to drive around turns. There's some passion here that was missing in the previous-generation 5 Series. That our car has all-wheel drive doesn't seem to be that much of a downside. On the contrary, it's kind of cool to be able to easily apply power as you round a corner and have the 540i stay hooked up. Granted, this is still a big luxury sedan, but as big luxury sedans go, this one is more enjoyable than most." — Brent Romans

2018 BMW 540i xDrive

Comfort
"Our BMW rides really nicely in Comfort mode. There's a particularly rough stretch of road on my commute, and I've been in some, well, honestly, cheap cars recently. It was a very pleasant surprise to feel how well the BMW handled a stretch that's so rough it actually bounced one car I was driving hard enough to set off the traction control warning." — Will Kaufman, associate staff writer

Interior
"A few days ago, some of us in the Edmunds office were talking about our 5 Series' interior and comparing it to the interior of a Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Everyone was commenting on how great the Mercedes' interior design is. I found myself defending our 5 Series, though. Yeah, the E-Class is undeniably nicer, but it's also the best in the segment.

"Otherwise, I think the 5 Series' interior holds its own in the luxury sedan class. It has BMW's classic interior design approach (which I think brings a sense of heritage and familiarity to the car) and it's fitted with class-competitive materials. The only real disappointment for me from a design standpoint is our test car's odd metallic diamond-pattern trim, but that's just specific to our test car." — Brent Romans

2018 BMW 540i xDrive

Technology-Audio
"I had to take the case off my Samsung Galaxy S7+ to fit it into the cordless charging cradle, but once I dropped it in I had real trouble getting it back out. It filled the space so completely, and access is obstructed to begin with, so I wound up slipping my ID badge under the edge of my phone to lever it out. As much as I like having cordless charging in cars, a lot of the cradles don't seem designed with larger phones in mind." — Will Kaufman

"Even though I've been driving our 540i a lot recently, it's still a little strange to me to have Apple CarPlay in a BMW. CarPlay is inherently a touchscreen-based system, and BMWs have traditionally not had touchscreens. But, hey, here it is. I do like having CarPlay and it's neat that you can connect your iPhone without needing a cord. In a way, it's the best of both worlds. You can use iDrive, which is still great, or you can fire up CarPlay for its certain functions that you like." — Brent Romans

Miscellaneous
"I wouldn't mind if BMW made its various sedans look a little more distinctive from each other. For example: I parked next to a light blue BMW thinking it was a new 5 Series. Twinsies! But, umm, no. Only after looking at the other car's badge did I realize that it was a 4 Series Gran Coupe. Oops." — Brent Romans

2018 BMW 540i xDrive

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