Mediocre power, superior refinement
BMW's normally aspirated, 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder is the only engine offered in the wagon. Making 230 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque, the engine is more than adequate for city driving and highway merging, but can't match the specs of the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon. Occasionally, stomping on the throttle in the BMW leaves the driver stranded in a power valley by a slow shift. But aggressive drivers will love the engine's speed and refinement when spinning to the 6500-rpm redline.
The automatic transmission features sport and manual modes in addition to the standard programming. Sport causes the transmission to downshift earlier and hold onto revs longer, creating a noticeable and appreciated difference compared to the standard mode. Selecting your own gear changes is done through either the gear lever or optional shift paddles. However, the manual mode doesn't give the driver complete control; upshifts still occur automatically just before redline.
The 3 Series wagon does an excellent job juggling the duties of both sporty and comfortable driving. Over most roads, the 328i quelled bumps and holes with ease. Still, a few sharp, high-speed breaks did slam the suspension against its bump stops with jarring impacts.
For low-speed parking maneuvers, the steering in the 328i is quite heavy, but get the car up to pace, and the wheel transmits precise information. Pushing the wagon through turns, the chassis remains quite neutral, avoiding serious oversteer with the help of the all-wheel drive system. Of course, nudging the gear selector into sport mode is the true switch for transforming the wagon from grocery-getter to corner carver.
A proven formula
There's good reason that a BMW 3 Series is the safe bet when it comes to buying a car. It provides the comfort and luxury that drivers want every day with the capabilities to perform for the occasional heavy-footed spin. The 328i xDrive Sports Wagon is no exception, offering the same great formula with that extra dose of wagon practicality.