Saturday, February 24, 2024

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Cars in the City



BMW was the best-selling luxury vehicle in 2021.

In the 1980s, car owners were tickled when automatic windows replaced the hand crank. Drivers toyed with other ideas, such as, “Wouldn’t it be great if my car could be the perfect temp when I hop in?” or “What if I could just wave a wand and ‘Voila!’ the volume is blasted?”

Well, car makers actually listened. These are some of the features in the BMW X-3 model for $51,740. 

The compact SUV 2022 model is the best seller of the BMW line. It’s sporty and powerful with loads of extras. After all, BMW was the best-selling luxury vehicle in 2021.

First off is a 2-liter twin power turbo 4-cylinder engine, which lends to a quick take off. Test-driving cars with some oomph to them is a sweet part of writing this car review. 

The heated leather steering wheel was toasty on a January day, and so was the driving experience.

As the car warmed up quickly, I reached for the knob to turn the heat down. There is no knob. Simply put up your two fingers, moving them in a downward motion. Your hand serves like a magic wand, and the temp decreases.

The “magical” Gesture Control feature can be configured for various hand movements. Twirl your index finger in a circle and up goes the volume on your favorite Coldplay song. If you’re a talker who uses a lot of hand gestures, beware, you might wonder why the temperature is suddenly getting colder.

The user-friendly infotainment system has dozens of settings and options but is often cumbersome to find what you want quickly. If you only use a few features, you’re in luck. Eight numbered shortcut buttons mean you can designate button No. 2 for FM radio.

Got a flat tire? No problem — just keep driving on it, as this vehicle comes with Run-Flat tires. At a slower speed, you can drive up to 100 miles until you can get the tire fixed. Bonus — there’s no spare tire in the cargo area, so it’s extra trunk space for your stuff.

If you’re feeling stressed, just tell the car “I’m stressed” and the scene is set. The moonroof shuts, the interior lights dim to orange, relaxing music is piped in, and your passenger stops talking. OK, the passenger doesn’t actually stop talking, but the rest of the features are true.

On the flip side, if your lane departure mode keeps vibrating or pulling you back in the lane, the car might think you’re sleepy. It will suggest you pull over to the rest stop before continuing to drive.

Have you ever opened the tailgate of an SUV only to have it hit the top of the low-hanging garage ceiling? Not anymore. Just adjust the tailgate height, and it automatically stops before the bang.

Remote starts go a step further than most, as  you can set an exact time for the car to start from an app on your phone. In the summer, the front grill opens to let out the hot air; in the winter, it shuts to keep the cold from coming in.

Safe and cozy. That is the BMW driving experience. ♦

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