2018 BMW 540i: Monthly Update for July 2018
by Mark Takahashi, Senior Writer
Where Did We Drive It?
In addition to its usual commuting duties with fellow editors, I took our 2018 BMW 540i on a quick round trip from L.A. to San Francisco. That gave us a nice 790-mile boost on the odometer. We needed to take it back to the dealer for a repeat warning light, but it seems it's fixed for good now.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Since the last update, we added 2,325 miles on our 540i and used 81.9 gallons of premium unleaded. That averages to 28.4 mpg for July and lifted our overall average 0.2 mpg past the EPA combined estimate of 23 mpg.
Of the total, my Bay Area jaunt added 790.4 miles, used 26.2 gallons, and averaged out to 30.2 mpg. That's better than the EPA's highway estimate of 29 mpg, and I wasn't even trying! It was blazing hot the entire trip (it reached 108 degrees in California's Central Valley), and the A/C was working pretty hard.
Average lifetime mpg: 23.3
EPA mpg rating: 23 combined (20 city/29 highway)
Best fill mpg: 32.7
Best range: 488.9 miles
Current odometer: 16,204 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
We returned to our local BMW dealer for a recurrent passenger restraint warning, the same thing we took it in for in June. After the technician followed the guidelines set out by a service bulletin and software update, we haven't had any issues since.
"A few of my colleagues have said the 540i is a little on the bland side. I can see what they mean. But for the class, I disagree. This 5 Series is supremely capable when it comes to power. When I needed to pass slower traffic, the engine never broke a proverbial sweat. At the top of freeway on-ramps, I had to back off the throttle to match the flow of traffic." — Mark Takahashi, senior writer
"Always a pleasure to get into the 540i and exercise its absurdly refined powertrain. Granted, I was coming out of a Nissan Kicks, but still. What an engine, what a perfect pairing with the latest ZF eight-speed automatic, what an eerily smooth rush when you mat the throttle. Skip the four-cylinder 530i and go straight to the 540i. You're in for a treat that's worth every extra penny." — Josh Sadlier, senior manager, content strategy
"Two days after we took the 540i to service to remedy the passenger restraint system warning light, it was back.
"Santa Monica BMW performed the same initial tests. Last time the tech essentially cleared the code and OK'd the car. Since it was our second time with the same issue, the shop foreman got involved. Per service bulletin SIB 72 04 17, he attached a tie strap to better secure the wiring harness associated with the seat sensor. Then he updated the software to the most recent version. Nine hours after we dropped the car off, it was ready to pick up." — Mike Schmidt, senior manager, vehicle testing operations
"These seats just work for me. That's why I picked this car for my road trip. I knew I could make it nonstop from L.A. to San Francisco without any significant fatigue. Ventilated seats would be a welcome addition in July, but the seats breathe pretty well. The ride quality is also well-suited for this kind of touring as it smoothed over any undulations or bumps." — Mark Takahashi
"My son, his girlfriend and I took a drive down to San Diego in the 540i. I picked the BMW because I wanted the three of us to be comfortable during the four hours of total drive time. Didn't happen. Liz, confined to the back seat, didn't have enough legroom sitting directly behind my son or me, so she ended up taking the middle seat.
"Just looking at the 540i's length, fitting three people should have been a no-brainer. The cabin is smaller than the exterior would lead you to believe, however. Liz is only about 5 feet 6. I'm 6 feet, and my son comes in around 6 feet 4. It was a bit surprising that she wasn't able to find a comfy position behind us." — Matt Jones, senior consumer advice editor
"Logging almost 400 miles in a day is a breeze with adaptive cruise and lane keeping assist. I had the following distance set to the second of four settings (fourth being maximum distance). This gave me the optimal California highway interval — not so far back that impatient drivers behind me thought I was dawdling, and not so close that braking was too abrupt. Lane keeping assist allowed me to drive with the lightest of contact with the wheel, reducing the amount of perceived driving significantly." — Mark Takahashi