I recently had the use of a BMW 528i xDrive for a few days to use for mixed city/highway driving. While it’s no Cadillac (the Cadillac CTS handily beats the BMW 528i in numerous important specs including power/mass, torque, horsepower, value, etc.), the BMW was enjoyable for temporary use as an economy-minded car.
The two points where the BMW 528i was slightly better than the Cadillac CTS were:
- Entertainment/Navigation system: While improved over previous years, the still somewhat lacking Cue touchscreen interface is eclipsed by the BMW iDrive interface.
- Fuel economy: Not really a downside, as the large V6 of the Cadillac CTS has 80% larger displacement and 75% more horsepower than the BMW 528i, yet the BMW 528i has only 15-20% better fuel economy when driven in low-performance ECO PRO mode.
Using the ECO PRO mode, I got over 36 MPG on mostly 55-65 mph state highway including some stops. MPG was overall better than 32 with about 20% city, 80% highway.
I didn’t mind the engine autostop/start feature. You do have to keep in mind not to creep forward at a stoplight, or the engine will restart and not shut off again till the next stoplight. The engine restarts as you begin to release the brake. I found I adapted quickly to this behavior. You can press a button right under the manual start button to disable the autostart feature. In sport mode, the autostart is disabled automatically.
I found the three personalities enabled by ECO PRO, Comfort, and Sport to be distinct and useful. The acceleration in ECO PRO is quite muted relative to Sport, but depressing the accelerator past about halfway wakes up the engine in ECO PRO to enable needed boosts of acceleration for merging with traffic. Comfort mode is what perhaps most people will use by default, while the aggressive shift patterns of Sport are fun if less economical.
The trunk was roomy, the ride quiet and accommodating. The navigation system was quite usable and the split-screen interface was appreciated as well. The radio performed well with good sensitivity and HD Radio. While not the best value and certainly not the best performance in its class, the BMW 528i is a factor to consider in the market.