2018 BMW 540i xDrive: Monthly Update for May 2018
by Josh Sadlier, Senior Manager of Content Strategy
Where Did We Drive It?
We needed to shake up the long-term 2018 BMW 540i xDrive's routine. Too much stop-and-go commuting duty was making it soft. That's why I took it upon myself to get the 540i out on the open road, heading to Arizona at the beginning of May and then to California's Eastern Sierra region at the very end.
Spoiler alert: This 5 Series is an outstanding road-trip companion. Where else can you get 335 remarkably refined horses, 30-plus mpg, 600 miles of highway range and supremely supportive sport seats in a luxurious midsize package? Indeed, it's hard to pinpoint anything that this car doesn't do well. Lexus may have come up with "the relentless pursuit of perfection," but I'd say the current 5 Series embodies that ethos as convincingly as any vehicle on the market today.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Editor Romans challenged me to break his record of 32.2 mpg when he heard I was heading out of town in the Bimmer. Naturally, I obliged. Coming back from Phoenix to Los Angeles, I rolled up 380.1 miles and pumped in 11.6 gallons for a 32.7-mpg tank, obliterating Brent's previous mark by 0.5 mpg. I've informed him that I'll be glad to give him a driving lesson if he asks me nicely.
Overall, I continue to be amazed by the ease with which this car crests 30 mpg on the highway. How refreshing to find a modern turbocharged car that routinely exceeds its EPA-estimated fuel economy. In related news, our lifetime average is now right in line with the EPA's combined estimate of 23 mpg.
Average lifetime mpg: 23
EPA mpg rating: 23 combined (20 city/29 highway)
Best fill mpg: 32.7
Best range: 488.9 miles
Current odometer: 12,507 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"With a road trip to Arizona scheduled for Sunday, I received an ominous warning on Friday morning when I started the 540i. 'Right rear tire low,' it informed me. 'Stop carefully and check tires. On cars with run-flat tires, the journey can be continued at speeds of up to 50 mph.' Sure enough, the onboard tire pressure monitor showed 20 psi for the right rear, versus 30 for the fronts and 36 for the left rear. I kept an eye on my speed and made a beeline for Stokes, our go-to tire shop in Santa Monica. Turns out there was a 'metal shard' in the tire that was cramping its style. About an hour and 35 bucks later, the tire had been repaired and I was good to go for my trip." — Josh Sadlier, senior manager of content strategy
"This powertrain. What a gem. So smooth and powerful, and BMW's programmers have somehow made the ubiquitous ZF eight-speed transmission feel more telepathic than in rival applications. I do find that I always put the car in Sport mode to wake up the throttle response; left to its own devices, there's a slight delay that I don't enjoy. But with that extra press of a button, it's well-nigh perfect. Truly extraordinary engineering here." — Josh Sadlier
"I encountered a glitch with our 5 Series. Backing out of my driveway in the morning, the rearview camera failed to boot properly. The display changed to the camera screen, but behind me was apparently only darkness. The perfect black of the void. And also my neighbor's Ford Focus." — Will Kaufman, associate staff writer
"Love the driver's seat in this car. Firm, generous padding in all the right places, and the adjustable side bolsters provide perfect snugness. 'Drive-all-day comfort' is an overused compliment in our trade, but it's on point here. I actually did drive the 540i all day from L.A. to Sedona, Arizona — that's 8 hours — and with this seat beneath me I could have kept right on going." — Josh Sadlier