2018 BMW 540i xDrive: Monthly Update for March 2018
by Cameron Rogers, Staff Writer
Where Did We Drive It?
Even though several members of our editorial, photo, video and social media teams were out of town in March for the New York International Auto Show, our 2018 BMW 540i xDrive didn't stay in the parking garage one single night. Auto show festivities kept our coast-to-coast staff busy and there wasn't much leeway for road trips, so despite its popularity the 540i didn't leave Los Angeles and we only added a little more than 900 miles to the odometer. For those keeping track, that's a little more than halfway to our monthly target of 1,700 miles.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Lots of city driving.
Two of the 540i's three fills in March fell below the EPA's city rating, at 18.0 mpg and 19.4 mpg. Judging by the timing of the fills, it's easy to surmise that these 550 miles were spent almost exclusively braving Los Angeles traffic. We stretched our legs a little at the end of the month, racking up another 365 miles at a more reasonable 23.4 mpg. Our monthly fuel economy averaged out to 20.4 mpg and caused our lifetime average to fall from 22.8 mpg to 22.5 mpg.
Average lifetime mpg: 22.5
EPA mpg rating: 23 combined (20 city/29 highway)
Best fill mpg: 32.3
Best range: 480.5 miles
Current odometer: 8,904 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"Is there a better combination of performance and fuel economy at this price level? I say no, particularly when you throw in our 540i's all-wheel-drive system. We've seen that 32 mpg and above is eminently attainable in this machine, whereas on a recent multi-day road trip in our other AWD long-term sedan, the Subaru Impreza, I only saw 31.9 mpg. I should add that the Impreza, at 152 horsepower, makes less than half the power of the BMW (335 hp), yet the 540i's silken turbocharged inline-six feels like it's working half as hard. How do the Bavarians do it? Beats me, but in the powertrain arena at least, it's clear that the company's Ultimate Driving Machine ethos is alive and well." — Josh Sadlier, senior manager, content strategy
"My old feelings still hold for the 540i — I wish it was still a BMW. The digital gauges, terrible adaptive cruise control, and ping-ponging lane keeping assist all are a frustration and departure from the 'Ultimate Driving Machine' that BMW is supposed to be. That being said, the 540i is perfectly pleasant to commute in. It's like a big rolling couch with plenty of horsepower to edge out aggressive mergers on Interstate 405. As a previous BMW owner, I still get a certain amount of joy from driving a BMW once in a while." — Abigail Bassett, senior director, video & social media
"There's a lot that makes the 540i an absolute distance-crushing sedan, but after spending a few hundred miles on a dull-as-dirt, all-highway road trip, I will say that the seats are probably at the top of that list. Comfortable. Supportive. Breathable (even without ventilation — c'mon, BMW!). They're ridiculously good." — Kurt Niebuhr, photo editor
"I was already pretty happy with how BMW's iDrive worked, but this latest version makes it even better. The added ability to use the infotainment display as a touchscreen, combined with Apple CarPlay, makes this one of the best systems out there. It's easier to use the touchscreen in the CarPlay menus because otherwise you have to use the dial to scroll through all of the hotspots. If that all wasn't enough, you don't need to use a USB connection to use Apple CarPlay. Now, I just toss my phone into the bin that has a wireless charging pad and go. It's the future, people!" — Mark Takahashi, senior writer