BMW’s Drive for a Cause Event
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BMW’s Drive for a Cause Event

BMW’s Drive for a Cause Event

If you get a chance to drive a BMW you should always take it.  That’s one of my mottos.  Another one is to help other people whenever possible. Both of these opportunities came together Thursday as I made my way to the BMW “Drive for Cause” event taking place at a nearby dealer. This event has been going on all summer around the country and a team of BMW specialists bring several of their cars, along with a few competitors, to local dealers. For each test drive a person takes money is donated to either Team USA or a local charity depending on the local dealerships choice. BMW’s goal was to raise a total of $1.5 million dollars from all the events and BMW is a huge partner with U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams.

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They had the several cars to choose from the BMW lineup but I chose what I thought would be the most interesting. First was the new plug-in hybrid version of the popular X5 SUV, followed by the new 7-Series. Let’s start with the plug-in X5 known as the 40e. The idea of a plug-in hybrid may be off-putting to some but the way BMW does plug-ins intrigues me. You can go up to 20 miles on pure electric and then the car will switch to the turbo 4-cylinder, which may seem like a small engine for such a large SUV, but I’m happy to report the power is more than adequate. It feels plenty fast enough for an SUV of this size. In fact, the 0-60 time of 6.5 seconds matches the diesel version, which is the other choice for those concerned with better than average fuel economy. When the car is in Sport mode it uses the electric engine as boost to help achieve a feeling of performance. I think the average buyer of this car would be someone who is interested in an electric car of some kind but isn’t ready to go 100%. After all, the plug-in hybrids do qualify for a government rebate, which in the case of the X5 is over $4,000. I think the X5 plug-in maybe the best all-around choice from the X5 lineup because you can use the electric motor exclusively or as a hybrid to achieve up to 56 mpg-e or an average of 24 mpg with gas only. If I had a complaint it would be that the electric motor should go further –  40-50 miles would be nice for pure electricity. But overall I think it’s exciting to see BMW and other companies continuing  to offer alternatives throughout their lineup.

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The second car I drove was the new 7-Series, specifically the 750i. This car is simply loaded with tech. Much has been written about all the features and how it compares with its main rival the Mercedes S550. The Drive for a Cause event gives you the chance to drive direct competitor cars from companies like Mercedes-Benz and Lexus. After having the chance to drive the BMW 750i and the Mercedes S550 back to back, I admit both are great. When it comes to a direct comparison both are very comfortable cars, both are quiet, have plenty of gadgets and a wide range of new tech. They also have plenty of power and provide a jet-like experience when traveling down the road. So here is my verdict if I was the one writing the check: I’d buy the BMW. I’m a huge fan of both cars and companies, but to me the BMW is the winner because it feels the best to the driver. The Mercedes had me thinking about how I’d be even more relaxed in the back seat and how willing I would be to let “someone else drive if they want”. I will attest I very rarely say that phrase and while backseat comfort is also present in the BMW, it really can be enjoyed as more of a driver’s car. The engine sounds better and the little touch of sportiness you find as you get in the vehicle is magnified when you put the car into Sport mode. The seats hug you, the gauges get red as if they are “angry” and the car knows for sure that you mean business. The Mercedes is a great car but when it comes to a big luxury car, I want a few sprinkles of performance here and there. That’s what the BMW does well and that’s why the 7-Series is my choice.

 

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Team USA/BMW Partnership and the BMW Drive for a Cause event. Photo Courtesy BMW North America

 

Phil’s Morning Drive, a web series about cars, is now streaming on Amazon and YouTube.

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