Category Archives: Information

Can You Tow With a BMW?

BMW, the ultimate towing machine! Not familiar? Perhaps not. Bavaria’s famed automaker is better known for Hoffmeister kinks and persnickety gearboxes than for stump-pulling proficiency. So you might be surprised to learn that not only do BMW SUVs tow, they do it quite well.

Vehicle dynamics have long been the forte of the blue-and-white brand, and while you’re predisposed to think of dynamics as the way your M3 rotates when you chuck it into a 90-degree right, it’s the very same set of principles that informs the way your X5 behaves when pulling the family motorcraft. Naturally, BMW has taken all they know about building surefooted, smooth-riding cars and translated it into confident, capable towing machines.

Serious Tug

Boating magazine recently published a review of the BMW X5 as a tow/haul vehicle. It received numerous compliments, not only for its capable towing, but also for offering boat owners a driving experience that is noticeably more comfortable than that of a domestic-market pickup. While diesel Fords, Chevys and Dodges have added semi-truck levels of torque to their outputs, the BMW’s powerful V8 and robust suspension package make it a worthy competitor for all but the largest oceangoing boats with its 6,000-pound tow rating and 4,000-pound payload capacity.

Smaller oceangoing craft and riverboats should be no problem for the burly X5, which you can also have in diesel flavor with a wonderful compression-ignition powerplant that delivers a hearty 413 foot-pounds of torque, sure to make your trailer feel feathery on the highway. All X5s enjoy 15.2-inch front and 13.6-inch rear ventilated disc brakes in a testament to what a serious towing machine this is. Lots of vehicles offer the power output needed to pull a trailer, but making it safe and controlled to slow all that moving mass is what separates the ultimate driving machine from its lesser competition.

Don’t Forget About Little Sister

You’ll find the same exceptional road manners that make the X5 a capable tow vehicle in the more affordable, more compact X3 for city-going outdoor aficionados and anyone with an active lifestyle. Even in four-cylinder guise, the Twinpower four-cylinder on the base model X3 develops 258 foot-pounds of torque, enough to enable a payload capacity of nearly 1,000 pounds and the ability to tow 4,400 pounds. That’s plenty to haul your small trailer or camper or a pair of watercraft or snowmobiles. It’s the perfect solution for nearly all those who want the ability to tow, but won’t rely on their BMW strictly for towing, and can appreciate the versatility of a crossover.

Plus, You Still Get a BMW!

Seldom do you hear anyone heaping praise onto the full-sized pickup segment for being nimble, responsive backroads dancers with supportive seats and well-placed controls. That’s more a BMW thing. While these cars are capable tow vehicles, they’re also very much BMWs. You’ll enjoy every day of ownership with your tow-package-equipped Bimmer, not just the ones where you visit the lake or pull a trailer.

Consider how often you need to tow. Wouldn’t it be nice to find a vehicle that can comfortably perform the role of tow vehicle while at the same time swaddling you in luxury and offering class-leading performance that makes it a joy to drive? That is precisely what we have in the X line of SUVs. BMW has found success with the suburban market already, but these cars have gone underappreciated as thoroughbreds for some time. The secret’s out now, so don’t be surprised if one of your Ford- or Dodge-driving pals asks you next time they see you, “Can I take your X5 for a spin?”

Say Goodbye to BMW’s 3-Series Gran Turismo

BMW 340i GT M Sport Estorilblau

“It’s hideous, kill it with fire!”

This is a phrase you might find yourself using all too often in reference to the latest crossover, XUV or SAV that the world’s automakers roll out. It would certainly be an appropriate reaction to BMW’s ungainly-proportioned 3-Series GT, and it seems BMW has come to realize this because the GT will not receive a redesign after its current iteration.

For a brand that fervently seeks out and fills even the smallest of niches, the GT’s elimination is BMW admitting that sometimes you just can’t create a niche where there was only a dream before.

Be Sensible, BMW!

BMW’s top brass claims that there is still market demand for the 3er GT even though sales numbers have been presumably weak. It’s impossible to know just how few of the GTs are sold from BMW’s own market data because they roll that number up into the total count of 3-series sedans sold. Can we speak plainly for a moment? If this car was printing money, it would not be getting the axe.

It’s not as though this is going to break BMW. If there’s a vehicle out there that can print money it’s a 3-series, but even Bavaria’s original recipe is struggling to keep pace with the popular and more traditional X3 and X5 (and X1 and X1, and X7…) SUVs.

Add to that that the lower-riding 3-series variants already include a sedan, wagon and “Gran Coupe” and you can see where customers are going to suffer from Cheesecake Factory syndrome. More choices is not always a good thing, and BMW has spent decades perfecting the honest sedan.

A Face for Radio

BMW 330i GT Luxury Arktikgrau

If you know the BMW lineup fairly well, you’ll recall that there are “high coupe” variants of several X models. These crossovers can do everything a 3-series GT can but more importantly, they’re not nearly as ugly.

The 3 is the second attempt by BMW to fashion a high-beltline station-wagon-chimera out of its most popular model, if you’ve still got your sight after clapping eyes on the 5-series GT, you might just want to skip this one.

Don’t be mistaken, there’s plenty to be said for practicality and a form-follows-function approach to car design, look at Subaru. But with so much internal competition, you have to ask why? And now BMW has.

The Next Generation of 3-Series

Bimmerphiles will know the latest coming of the 3er by its G20 body code, and there will be no G20 iteration of the GT.

This is a critical time for BMW which has been criticized as moving away from their sporting heritage in an attempt to capture market share from Mercedes and Audi by offering a less communicative driving experience and a more cushy, amenity-rich interior.

The G20 has a challenging mission in rescuing the brand from dilution and restoring BMW’s sporting name without offending customers who want luxury.

That means that there’s no room for low-volume models. All the development money needs to hit home on the core product lineup which has, admittedly, swollen to a size that should not need help from any more flavors of 3-series.

So if you’ve got a 3-series GT and you love it, good for you. Hold on to it. Maybe it will become a novelty item like the Pontiac Aztek and ten years from now people will be picking through auction lots for them. If you don’t have one and you want one, you had better act fast!

How Will The Green New Deal Change Transportation?

The Green New Deal (GND) is a resolution from U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, both Democrats. It highlights the need to take bold measures to mitigate the growing threat of climate change, plus the prevalent problem of income inequality.

Transportation is a major aspect of the GND. Here are some of the transportation-related topics it covers and the changes that might occur.

A Net-Zero Emissions Goal

An earlier version of the GND set a milestone of the United States achieving zero emissions for the transportation, industrial and agricultural sectors by 2030. However, the latest edition of the GND proposes getting to the point of net-zero emissions. That means greenhouse gas emissions still happen, but at levels short of what the atmosphere naturally gets rid of or stores.

The people working to implement the changes rolled back their initial vision after realizing the difficulty of zero emissions in certain cases, such as for air travel.

More Dependence on Different Forms of Getting Around

People in the United States who can afford them love the convenience cars provide. Whether they’re going on long-distance road trips or heading across town for groceries, they hop into those vehicles and go.

The Green New Deal hopes to change that behavior. It proposes a high-speed rail network that helps people reach their destinations without booking flights. Some individuals pointed out that it’s not possible to cease using planes, but the GND doesn’t aim to do that.

It discusses “… overhauling transportation systems in the United States to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible, including through investment in zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing; clean, affordable and accessible public transit; and high-speed rail.”

BMW’s i line features high-tech electric vehicles that help change people’s ideas about future cars, and numerous other manufacturers have followed suit with models that don’t need fossil fuels to run.

Ocasio-Cortez also advocated for using bike lanes and public transit on Twitter in mid-2018, although the GND doesn’t specifically mention the former. In any case, this plan seeks to encourage Americans to travel in ways that may be unfamiliar now but could become commonplace and even convenient.

There’s a lot of work to do before reaching that stage, however.

Automobile Enhancements Are Ongoing

Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck announce a year long test of a BMW i3 electric vehicle at a City of Los Angeles press conference in Los Angeles, Sept. 11, 2015. Photo by Danny Moloshok/Newscast

Many people know the automobile industry takes continual steps toward progress in areas like fuel economy. For example, enhanced rolling resistance and better truck aerodynamics can cause such gains in long-haul vehicles. BMW, for example, intended to roll out more electric vehicles before the GND captured mainstream attention.

In early November 2018, BMW’s CEO said the brand aims to release five new all-electric vehicles by 2021. It also has other eco-friendly options in the works, such as plug-in hybrids. Those efforts align with what the GND hopes to do.

What About the Potential Downsides?

Some analysts chimed in to say that these transportation proposals are too far-reaching, especially in a short timeframe. Electric vehicles are far from mainstream adoption, only making up a tiny percentage of overall cars on the road. Moreover, although the prices have come down, they’re still not cheap and are likely out of reach for people in low-income brackets.

It’s also possible automakers would have to scale up their manufacturing efforts too quickly. Such rapid growth is undoubtedly difficult to manage.

Also, train travel works well for densely populated metropolitan areas, but not for residents in rural places. So, there are notable disadvantages for people in isolated towns that cannot afford electric vehicles — or cars of any type — and don’t have nearby rail networks to use.

Still in the Early Stages

In light of these possible pitfalls, people must keep in mind the “as much as is technologically feasible” line from the Green New Deal. It’s inevitable that some of the things proposed won’t work as well as advocates expect and could even be impossible.

On a positive note, perhaps the GND will encourage people to think about future improvements in the transportation sector with more open minds while being motivated by the time-based characteristic it brings.