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2013 BMW 328i xDrive Road Trip: Philly To The Windy City

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2013 BMW 328i xDrive Review

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, New York Bureau
The Auto Channel

Our usual go-to mode of transportation between Philadelphia and Chicago is exactly what you would think, commercial airline. My wife had some free time available and I was game to give HER new car, a 2013 BMW 328i xDrive sedan, a highway run. So, we took to the interstate for this trip.

We would roll for a bit over 750 miles each way, taking 11 ½ hours, overnighting in Akron on the way west, and driving straight through coming back. The Pennsylvania Turnpike is interesting to drive as it crosses Pennsylvania horse country, rolls through lots of farmland, and crosses the Appalachian Mountains in central Pennsylvania through four tunnels. Posted speed limit is 65mph and many folks like to exceed the 10-over rule-of-thumb. In addition to running radar speed enforcement, the PA State Police cruise at about 80mph and if they are not catching up to a car in front, that usually becomes their next customer. Although there are signs posted for speed enforcement from the air, we didn’t see any. The western portion of the turnpike is fun to drive as it twists, winds, and climbs up and down through the Appalachians.

During the 1930s the Pennsylvania Turnpike was designed to improve automobile transportation across the mountains of Pennsylvania, using seven tunnels built for the abandoned South Pennsylvania Railroad in the 1880s. The road opened on October 1, 1940 between Irwin and Carlisle as the first long-distance limited-access highway in the United States. Following World War II, the turnpike was extended east to Valley Forge in 1950 and west to the Ohio border in 1951. In 1954, the road was extended further east to the Delaware River.

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As you enter Ohio the speed limit bumps up to 70mph, the terrain flattens near Akron and Cleveland making for less-interesting driving, but the straighter roadway makes for better sight lines while running at 10-over. The Ohio Turnpike had lots of construction zones posted at 50mph, so there were all-too-frequent slowings, although no dead-stop events. The Indiana toll road takes you through the RV manufacturing region of the world and the next thing you know you are seeing Lake Michigan and the skyline of the Windy City.

We like to get where we are going, and only make short stops for fuel, needed biological breaks, and perhaps a small bite to eat. I drove all the way west, with the overnight stop in Akron making that easy to do. On the way back home we traded the driving on and off. I appreciated the afternoon nap.

With this long highway run in the new 328i, which by the way had about 1000 miles on it at the start, fuel consumption measurement was in order…while still achieving a good average speed. I’m not a hypermiler. The new BMW 328i has a 2.0-liter 16-valve turbo 4-cylinder rated at 240HP. This is coupled to an 8-speed automatic. My wife’s car is xDrive all-wheel-drive, so that adds weight and friction losses. I miss the wonderful smoothness of the BMW 6-cylinder, but the turbo four has plenty of power and is not lacking in any way. The 8-speed auto is a dream. EPA test fuel economy ratings for the 328i are 22 city mpg and 33 highway mpg, with 26 the combined rating. This 26mpg combined rating equates to 3.8 gallons per 100 miles, and this figure appears now on the EPA/DOT fuel economy label.

For the two westbound legs, from Philly to Akron we got 35.1mpg with an average speed of 67.9mph, and between Akron and Chicago we got 36.4mpg with an average of 68.4mph. For the long leg back home we got 36.3mpg at an average of 70.0 mph. I was very pleased with this overall fuel consumption, especially since it was better than the EPA highway test rating of 33mpg, while we still traveled at “time efficient” speeds.

The 328i has a Driving Dynamics Control that switches between ECO PRO, Comfort and Sport settings, with Comfort being the default. The ECO PRO mode modifies the powertrain management, and re-programs the heating and air conditioning, the heated seats and the exterior mirrors to operate at optimum efficiency. BMW says it reduces fuel consumption by as much as 20%. We used the ECO PRO and picked up around 0.5mpg.

Although not coming in to play on our trip I should mention that the new BMW 3 Series sedan is equipped with an Auto Start-Stop function, which automatically switches off the engine during short stops at traffic lights or in stationary traffic, so as not to waste fuel. The start-stop is OK in city driving at traffic lights and such, but in jammed highway stop and go traffic we tend to turn it off.

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We had clear and dry weather that made for easy driving, save for a thunderstorm with a heavy downpour coming west just after we passed Pittsburgh. BMW does a good job with seats. I was never uncomfortable during the entire drive with the seats providing good upper leg and back support. Slight tweaks with the 8-way power settings help relieve being in one position too long. Tire and wind noise are very well managed which made for easy conversation while also listening to the variety of entertainment from the SiriusXM satellite radio.

As for the BMW vehicle itself, this is my wife’s fourth. BMW ownership is very customer friendly with our experience having been very satisfying with a number of BMW stores, and the 4 year/50,000 mile maintenance coverage for all factory-recommended maintenance makes for care-free driving. Typically we visit the BMW service department once a year.

The whole purchase process and decision on what model and options was fairly easy. I was the “advisor” to my wife. I’m often puzzled when I hear that someone didn’t get exactly the vehicle they wanted and had to settle on something else. My wife ordered this 328i exactly to her specifications, it was produced in Munich and shipped across the Atlantic and at our dealer ready for delivery in 43 days. With a little planning you can get 100% satisfaction.

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The 2013 BMW 328i sedan is priced starting at $37,100. My wife’s car is xDrive-equipped with an MSRP of $38,850. She opted for the Modern Line which adds $2100 and also the Cold Weather Package for $950. Along with heated front and rear seats and headlight washers, the heated steering wheel is something she won’t do without. Xenon headlights added $900 and the Premium Package another $3100.

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One of the Modern Line design features is the steering wheel and the upper instrument panel in the same color trim as the overall interior, compared to the BMW-traditional black. I was a bit skeptical on this interior, but it was my wife’s choice. I now have changed from that skeptical view and find no objection. I was concerned with IP reflection in the windshield, but BMW has done a good job controlling that.

If 328i pricing is a bit steep, a 320i with 180HP is offered at $32,550. For the eco-minded there is a 328d diesel sedan as well as the 6-cylinder powered 335i for those who want max performance. In addition to the Modern Line, Luxury, Sport, and M Sport trims are offered.

BMW already has 2014 model information on there website at The model line up has been tweaked a bit. If you are shopping luxury sport sedans and want to compare you can do that right here on

I’m not sure that we’ll be driving to Chicago again any time soon, but a good road trip is always nice if you have the right wheels to do it in.

© Larry Nutson