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Bavarian Dream Pie

The 2011 BMW 336i xdrive

There are plenty of cars on the road today that were bought by people who just needed something to get them from here to there. And then there are cars that were bought by people who wanted to get from here to there and enjoy the journey as much as the destination. BMW’s 335i xDrive sedan is in the latter category.

Car magazines have been heaping praise on BMWs for years. Ten best car lists, comparison test winners, the fact that Car & Driver writers own more BMWs than any other brand—the Bavarians really know how to put a car on the road. Over the years, I’ve had scant experience with the brand, but have always admired them from afar. Thanks to Chuck Skillin at Towne BMW, last week I got to drive a 335i, which put it all into perspective (for me) for the following reasons: First, it’s a great-looking car—especially the test car in Vermillion Red Metallic with the Oyster and Black Dakota leather interior. Second, what I call “intuitive simplicity”—I didn’t need an engineering degree to get behind the wheel and operate the dash controls. There were no touch screens—the radio had actual buttons which you could select by feel with no need to take your eyes off the road; ditto for the HVAC controls, cruise control, and virtually everything else within the driver’s reach.

Third, it’s one of the most comfortable cars I’ve driven in some time. The seats not only looked great, they were great to sit in—front and back. Fourth, it handles like, well, like a BMW. It takes curves effortlessly, stops confidently, and accelerates with authority. My test drive took me on all kinds of roads and the 335i didn’t disappoint on any of them.

And finally, the little things that never fail to impress my small mind, such as the digital compass in the rear-view mirror, the digital outdoor thermometer located in the instrument cluster, and the driver’s cupholder which slides out of the dash like a drawer at the touch of a finger.

You can’t talk about a car like this without mentioning its features. I can’t possibly mention all of them in a space this small, but here goes anyway. The xDrive in the 335i’s name signifies BMW’s all-wheel-drive system. On dry roads it acts like all legendary BMW rear-wheel-drive cars have over the years. But when the going gets damp, wet, or slippery, the xDrive senses any need for change in power distribution, and sends it to the wheel(s) in need to help eliminate wheelspin before it occurs. Power comes from a TwinPower Turbo 3.0-liter inline six rated at 300 horsepower, while transmission choices are a six-speed manual or Steptronic six-speed shiftable automatic (which is what I drove). Gas mileage for the automatic is rated 19/28 miles per gallon city/highway. Dynamic Stability Control, four-wheel ventilated anti-lock disc brakes, xenon adaptive headlights, retractable headlight washers, start/stop button, automatic climate control, and of course a host of interior/mechanical safety and security items are standard. Go to for the whole story.

My test car had a starting list price of $43,100. Options were the cold weather package (including heated front seats and steering wheel), Premium Package (sunroof, even more power seat adjustments with lumbar support, Bluetooth and more), automatic transmission, iPod and USB adaptor, and a one-year subscription to satellite radio. With destination, it totalled out to $50,300. You should also figure in BMW’s warranty (four years/50,000 miles), maintenance program (four years/5,000 miles of factory-recommended services, which even includes replacement of brake pads and wiper blades during the warranty period), and that same time/mileage limit for roadside assistance. As anyone knows, these services can add up to thousands of dollars over four years.

So that 335i not only looks smart sitting in your driveway, it might even make someone like me look smart for buying it. Imagine me, a legend!

Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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