All posts by Scott Huntington

Scott Huntington writes all over the internet about cars. He was (probably accidentally) interviewed to be the host of the next Top Gear USA.

How Does the 2017 BMW 5 Series Stack up Against the 2017 Mercedes E-Class?

Mercedes leaves no market niche unfilled. In the last decade, the three-pointed star brand has taken a portfolio that was robust and injected it with steroids to achieve some vehicles that can only be described as neurotic. BMW, the market-leader not long ago, has pledged 40 new or updated models by 2020 to compete with their Teutonic neighbors.

Consumers who love crossover coupes and electric runabouts can rejoice at all this puffery, but these brands are still best measured by their staple sedans. There is no competition where BMW and Mercedes are more evenly matched than E-Class vs. 5 Series, and for 2018, both are fresh and ready to do battle.

More Alike Than Different

Back in the 1990s and early ‘naughts, this comparison would have been entirely predictable. BMW, the sports sedan company, delivers a businesslike interior and better on-road dynamics. Mercedes sacrifices nimble handling and delivers a more luxurious experience for the well-heeled socialite.

Now, however, things are different. Technology has allowed each company to toe the line further and further into the other’s “niche,” until what was a blurred line no longer exists at all. You can take your Mercedes to the track, and you can use your 5 Series as a limousine — and in both cases, life will go on quite pleasantly.

Parsing Hairs

Still, while these cars might both strive to be the one-car-that-does-it-all, they are two distinct products and must be judged as such. To be fair, it must be said that within each model designation there are a cavalcade of trim levels that include hybrids, all-wheel-drive models, track stars and even a wagon for Mercedes fans.

Using the middle-of-the-road E400 in comparison against the brand-new for 2018 540i is the closest we can get to a head-to-head. Turbo sixes power both cars. Mercedes is more potent on paper, but we hear the bimmer is underrated. However, with both cars scraping 400 horsepower, it is a little concerning to hear that the Merc can have issues with braking.

Styling and Interior

The BMW benefits from coming fresh out of the design shop, and so it brings sharper lines than the E-class — which was initially penned for the 2014 model year and has since been refreshed. However, the Mercedes has aged well, and the E-class coupé is handsome on a level only a 2-door, which BMW doesn’t offer, can achieve.

Inside, the newer BMW offers a world-class infotainment system that is, of course, the latest iDrive interface. Both cars offer superb interior appointments, with the nod going to the Mercedes for overall interior stylishness — it’s just warmer and more inviting than the austere BMW.

The Final Word

Anyone who can put either of these cars in their garage should count themselves lucky. After all, no one said full-size German sedans were cheap. The BMW is new and exciting for 2018, but the halo will fade, and if you go this route, know that it offers slightly higher operating costs than the E-Class.

Even though it’s been on the market for some time, the E-Class remains relevant. It is perhaps the slightly more comfortable car, thanks to its comfy interior, but it does feel heavy on the road next to the new 5 Series. Will you be much happier in either one than driving a company car, though? Unquestionably.

Driving Your BMW in the Winter

Bavaria in January can see below-freezing temperatures, and in other parts of Germany, it’s even colder. Right now, a large chunk of the United States is seeing sub zero temps, with highs barely getting above zero. If you’re concerned about driving your Bimmer in the cold, you can feel confident it’s built to perform in any condition.

However, just because you have a high-performing car, you shouldn’t drive as if nothing has changed. To ensure your BMW has a long and rewarding life, you should take steps to be safe during the winter months and protect your car from the harsh effects of salted roads. These tips are easy to follow, but they make a world of difference.

Protecting Your Finish

If you’re like many BMW owners and want to keep the paint on your car looking as shiny and new as possible, winter weather is no fun. Snow and rain can strip wax from your car’s finish, but that’s only the beginning of your problems. Particularly for older models, you’ll want to ensure oxidization and rust do not set in.

The first step you should take to protect your car from the elements is to keep it inside. A clean, organized garage is the best place to do this. Make sure the garage seals well, has proper insulation and that the door is in good working order. A running car you can’t back out doesn’t do you much good.

Storing your BMW indoors will go a long way toward improving your winter driving experience. Allowing the battery and engine fluids to stay warm will reduce the effort needed to start the car, prolonging battery and accessory life.

The warmer indoor environment will also keep ice from clinging to underbody components. This step is critical in preventing rust, as expanding water can cause small cracks in metal components where rust can begin to eat away at your prized vehicle.

Driving in Snow and Ice

Some BMWs come equipped with the xDrive all-wheel-drive system, but if you own a rear-wheel-drive model, you can still enjoy it when there’s snow on the roads if you take the right precautions. To maximize traction, you should install a set of snow tires. Consider having a second set of wheels, so you can keep the snow tires mounted and install them when the weather turns bad.

No tire can stop you from making bad decisions on the road, so use caution. If you’re not sure how much traction you have, drive slowly and remain in control. Avoid making sudden or jerky movements.

Lastly, be prepared for anything. You could end up stuck in the snow and the cold, so it’s a good idea to keep an emergency kit in your car. BMWs often come with toolsets — however, you should also put together a kit containing, at minimum, a few snacks, water, a flashlight, a space blanket and flares. You should also carry a set of jumper cables.

It might sound like a lot, but these small things will allow you to drive your BMW all through the winter. That’s an easy choice compared to winding up stuck in a snowbank.

7 Ways to Drive Improve Your BMW Driving

Driving is a great experience, but there are always ways you can make it better, especially if you’re enjoying a luxurious ride behind the wheel of a BMW.  If you’re not sure where to start, you’re in luck.  We’ve gathered a list of seven things you can do to drive your BMW a little better.

  1. Don’t Drain The Tank

This is especially important for the BMW 3 series, but you should keep it in mind for all of your BMWs — don’t run the car until the fuel tank is empty. There are much better ways to get some weight reduction. The fuel pump itself is inside the tank and is cooled by contact with the fuel — running the tank empty damages the fuel pump and can lead to an expensive and time-consuming repair.

  1. Eco Pro Mode for Winter Driving

We all love the traditionally turbocharged BMW engines, but that extra torque and spin put you at risk for getting stuck on snowy or wet roads.  No one likes the Eco Pro mode for standard driving — it makes your gas pedal feel heavy and you don’t accelerate as fast — but it’s ideal for wet or snow-covered roads.  You might accelerate a little slower, but it keeps you from spinning off into snowy oblivion.

  1. Pick the Right Shoes

Believe it or not, the shoes you wear can affect how you drive.  A good pair of driving shoes should securely fit on your feet but remain thin enough you can feel the car as you shift the pedals.  A good pair of Dockers will do the trick, and won’t break the bank either. They’ll allows you to get more responsiveness out of your car by providing tactile sensation and information through the bottom of your feet.

  1. Drive Defensively

When you’ve got the power of a BMW at your fingertips, it can be tempting to drive aggressively — speeding, accelerating quickly or braking heavily — simply because you can.  Not only does this put you at higher risk for an accident, but it’s also actually compromising your fuel economy. Studies have shown this type of driving lowers your fuel efficiency by up to 30 percent on the highway and up to 40 percent in city traffic. Drive safely and defensibly to improve your car’s fuel efficiency.

  1. Don’t Grind Your Gears

A manual transmission can take your driving experience to a whole new level, but only if you actually know how to drive it.  Grinding your gears, in addition to humiliating yourself, damages your transmission.  Shift properly, and avoid things like engine braking — shifting to a lower gear at high speeds to force the engine to slow the car down without pressing the brakes.  Yes, it is effective at slowing the car down, but it damages the car and leads to premature breakdowns.

  1. Stow the Cell Phone

This should be a no-brainer but it happens so often it bears repeating. Don’t mess around with your cell phone while you’re driving.  Distracted driving leads to more than 1.5 million accidents every single year — you can’t drive your BMW better if you’re watching a junker tow it away after you’ve totaled it. Stow the cell phone and if you absolutely need it, such as for navigation, use it in hands-free mode and stick it on your dashboard.

  1. Take a Class

If you’re like most of us, it’s been a while since you had a driver’s ed course — so you could probably use a refresher.  You can look into performance driving schools if you want to learn how to get the most out of your BMW, or you can simply look into your local DMV’s defensive driving course. Either way, you’re getting your skills refreshed, learning new skills and as an added bonus — many defensive driving courses qualify you for lower insurance rates!

Getting behind the wheel of a BMW should be something you enjoy — so take the time to become a better driver so you can enjoy it for many years to come.