When most people with families ponder their next vehicle they undoubtedly consider the practicality and convenience of the station wagon. Manufacturers, of course, have shied away from using the term “station wagon” in recent years because I suppose it’s not considered cool anymore. New adjectives such as “touring” and “avant” sound much cooler but are just synonyms for station wagon. In fact station wagons are so uncool they’ve actually become cool again, especially with tuners who strive to be different.
As a person with a large family I was anxious to put this station wagon to the practicality test. I recently tested the BMW 340i XDrive and this vehicle was very similar except for the motor (and obviously the trunk). Under the hood is BMW’s 2.0-litre twin-scroll turbo four-cylinder engine which makes 241 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. This is more than adequate power for the vehicle and is a pleasure to operate over the entire power band at a not too shabby 9.83 L/100km observed fuel efficiency.
As with the other models in the 3-Series lineup, 2016 brings a needed refresh of the exterior. I use the term needed because of BMW’s frustrating decision to revert to incandescent bulbs for brake lights and turn signals when this generation was released in 2012. Many cheaper vehicles use the more efficient (and better looking) LED lighting so I was happy to see BMW rectify this problem. The new 3-Series even has available LED headlights to boot. Minor tweaks to the front and rear fascias give the car a much nicer and sportier aura.
Also new this year is a variety of mechanical upgrades. There are new front struts, new rear dampers, a redesigned electric power steering system, updated Dynamic Stability Control system and a revised eight-speed automatic transmission.
The interior is typical BMW excellence though not as opulent as the 340. For instance the Dakota leather is not as soft as the Nappa or Merino leather. The steering wheel isn’t the awesome three-spoke M-Sport model despite the vehicle being equipped with the $1900 M-Performance Package. That being said, let’s not be picky here because it’s still very luxurious.
Space-wise there’s going to be an issue if you’ve got more than two young ones to put in the rear seat. You can fit a maximum of two baby seats only as the middle seat is barely large enough for a six year-old to sit in with no booster at all. For a family vehicle I was a bit let down in this department. The added space in the trunk is nice to have for those big grocery runs or if you want to fold the seats down in order to move a large object.
Other equipment found on this tester thanks to the $5400 Enhanced Premium Package includes a heated steering wheel, alarm system, comfort access, rear-view camera, auto dimming mirrors, park distance control for both front and rear and the must have heads-up display. All in, the MSRP is $55,245 before destination and taxes.
The 3-Series Touring is perfect for the enthusiast who loves the sportiness of the car but just needs a little extra versatility at the same time. There are a plethora of SUVs that can be very temping but few, if any, will retain the all-around performance of the legendary 3-Series.