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2018 bmw 3 Series Sport Wagon

BMW, along with a rapidly diminishing handful of other automakers, continues to prove year after year that there is a niche in the United States for smaller, performance-oriented cargo haulers. Don't call them station wagons, even though that's what they are -- BMW calls them Sports Wagons.

Overview
The Sports Wagon builds on the 3 Series sedan. To cut down on options and configurations for what is a very low-volume machine, BMW offers the wagon with just two engines.

As you'd expect, the wagon is a significantly more versatile cargo carrier than the sedan. It's capable of swallowing 17.3 cubic feet of gear, compared to the 13 cubic feet the sedan's trunk will hold. Fold down the rear seats - which feature 40/20/40 split folding capability to accommodate different mixtures of passengers and cargo - and space swells to 53 cubic inches. For extra room, there's a pair of under-floor storage wells - a larger forward unit, and a smaller rear unit suitable for holding the roll-up cargo cover.

Extended trunk aside, the Sports Wagon is identical to the 3 Series sedan. The chassis is soft yet athletic, though the electric power steering system sacrifices a good deal of the last 3's steering feel in the name of fuel efficiency.

Inside, the cabin combines the simple, driver-focused instrumentation that buyers have come to expect from BMW with a slightly edgier and less conservative overall design theme. A tablet-style 6.5-inch display screen mounted atop the dashboard displays stereo and vehicle information. Shell out for the optional navigation system, and the screen is upgraded to a larger 8.8-inch unit.

All secondary systems are controlled through BMW's iDrive infotainment setup, which has evolved over the years from a bewildering complex unit to surprisingly simple and user-friendly system. Redundant controls on the steering wheel and dashboard provide alternate means of accessing the electronics.

Technical Specifications
BMW breaks down the Sports Wagon line-up into two models named 330i and 328d, respectively.

The 330i boasts a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 248 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 258 pound-feet of torque between 1,450 and 4,800 rpm. That's enough power for a zero-to-60-mph sprint of 5.7 seconds. Fuel economy checks in at 23 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway, and 26 in a combined cycle.

The 328d gets a diesel-powered turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. It generates 180 horsepower at 4,000 rpm and 280 pound-feet of torque between 1,750 and 2,750 rpm. Getting to 60 mph from a stop takes 7.6 seconds. Fuel economy comes in at 30, 40, and 34, respectively. These figures are jaw-dropping for the segment.

Both engines shift through an eight-speed automatic transmission and BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive system. You're completely out of luck if you want a stick, rear-wheel drive, or both.

Standard and Optional Features
The only difference between the 330i and the 328d is under the hood. Both models come standard with SensaTec upholstery, a multi-function steering wheel, 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped by run-flat tires, a power-operated tailgate, roof rails, a universal garage door opener, a panoramic moon roof, auto-dimming mirrors, power-adjustable front seats, automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, automatic LED headlights, ambient lighting, wood trim on the dashboard and the door panels, plus Bluetooth connectivity.

Extra-cost options include metallic paint, leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, 18-inch alloy wheels, an adaptive M suspension, rear window shades, heated front and/or rear seats, parking sensors, navigation, adaptive cruise control, Apple CarPlay compatibility, a wireless phone charger, and a surround sound system. Buyers can also choose from several option packages.

Occupant Safety
All 3 Series models come standard with dual front, front side, front knee and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems.

Key Competitors
The BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon's most direct rival is the Volvo V60. Audi's A4 allroad, which is essentially a jacked-up A4 Avant with SUV-like styling cues, is another possible alternative but it's more rugged and correspondingly less dynamic to drive.