Cars. Car Culture. Motorsports. Things that go Vrooom...

Meet the New Boss

posted by Terrence Dorsey on Tuesday, 19 June 2012 @ 07:21

"Rocket," the little wagon that could.

"Flash": a little bigger, a little badder, a lot more plush.

The sportwagon is dead. Long live the sportwagon!

So we sort of unintentionally went from one BMW sportwagon to another. One could argue we upgraded a bit in the process. It's not all that surprising, though, as we really loved the 3 series wagon and, as our family grows, something similar but a little bigger was always going to be a smart move.

The thing is, our dear old 325iT got T-boned. Crumple zones crumpled, occupants avoided injury, but poor "Rocket" was bent beyond any economical unbending. Farewell friend. You served us well.

So we went used-car shopping and ended up bringing home another BMW wagon: a 2000 540iT. The new wagon is probably the poshest car I've ever driven - except maybe for testing a 760i once. Leather and burlwood everywhere. Power memory everything. Cassette deck and CD changer.

Steering is a bit ponderous, not helped by big, fat wheels and tires (which do look great, however). Sure it has a 4.3 liter V8 with 380 ft lbs of torque, but it also weighs 2 tons. The automatic transmission is less responsive than the manual, but it has 5 speeds and I discovered a sport mode that perks things up a bit.

Electric sport seats with memory, however, is the coolest thing since... I don't know what. No more fiddling with seat adjustments and mirrors. And the seats are fabulously comfortable.

I have to admit that, before deciding on the BMW, we did consider a few SUVs that, under normal circumstances I wouldn't think about at all. However, up here in New England we get enough rough weather to sort of justify an all all-terrain, all-conditions vehicle. We do live in the mountains. We do get flooded roads occasionally. We do have friends who live at the ends of unpaved roads.

In the end, condition, familiarity and utility won out. The 540 wagon was as spacious as any SUV we looked at, more comfortable, and in far better condition for its miles. There are a few minor issues that you'd expect with any used car and appear to be easy home-mechanic fixes... so far. We'll see how this pans out.