MotorTrend delivers one of the most comprehensive test drive comparison in the midsize sedan premium segment. The BMW 335i xDrive is compared agains the Audi S4, Cadillac ATS4 3.6, Lexus IS 350 AWD and Volvo S60 T6.
The review is broken down in several categories: ride and handling, performance, efficiency, cabin, safety, value, cost of ownership.
Ride and Handling
In this category, the winner is Cadillac ATS. MotorTrend says that the “Ride is firm all the time, in a good, sporty way. Clearly the majority of the funding for this car went to the chassis. The handling is superb. You can just thrash this car and it keeps wanting more.”
BMW 335i xDrive and Audi S4 show the best performance from 0 to 60 mph (4.4 seconds). The Audi S4 does have an edge here thanks to its seven-speed S Tronic transmission.
The BMW 335i xDrive takes the win here. It is rated at exactly 20 mpg city, 30 mpg highway but the real test showed an average 19.2 mpg.
For years BMW has been criticized for not having an interior design at the same levels as the competition but over the last few years, under the guidance of BMW Group Chief Designer Adrian Van Hooydonk and BMW Chief of Interior Design Marc Girard, the new designs have reached new levels of luxury combined with sportiness. And for that reason, the BMW wins in this category, ahead even of the highly praised Audi.
On the other end of the spectrum is BMW’s iDrive. Turn the clock back a few years: No infotainment solution was as roundly and resolutely hated as the iDrive system that showed up in the Bangled 7 Series. These days? It’s the best in the business. The 335ix features the most comfortable seats of the test, though I hesitate to call them the best, because occupants do slide around during cornering. Ayapana said the BMW “has the best interior of the bunch” and called the seating position “perfect.”
The Volvo S60 T6 is the safest car of the group. In fact, the S60 is in the safest 9 percent of all cars on sale in 2013, according to our partners at Informed for Life. The S60 is the only car in the test to get such a rating. It’s also the only car here that scored a Good rating for the small overlap frontal impact test, an admittedly severe new test. The S60 is both a NHTSA and IIHS top safety pick.
That said, the BMW 335ix showed up with a nosebleed-high sticker price of $61,860. At first, we laughed, then we rolled our eyes, and then we just referred to it as the $62,000 3 Series. The 335ix has a base price of $46,075, meaning that our Alpine White test car had $15,785 worth of options. We would have been satisfied with only $6550 worth of extras. For instance, do you really need the $3040 yellow brake calipers?
This leaves the BMW and its combination of luxury, comfort, and curb appeal. There’s a reason every other car in the segment is measured against the 3 Series. Even with AWD, it remains the benchmark.
While safe and competent, the Volvo failed to get anyone’s pulse racing. The competition remains extremely strong and a refresh is coming soon. 4th Place: Cadillac ATS
Without question, the best driving car here, but last or near last in every other category. Cadillac has a great starting point, but it needs to finish the job. 3rd Place: Lexus IS 350
A solid value and welcome refresh. We’d love to see an F Sport with AWD, but Lexus doesn’t build it. Also, the front of this car is too homely for it to place any higher. 2nd Place: Audi S4
Muscular, brutish, and confidence-inspiring, the S4 is let down by its age and a slightly underwhelming driving experience. Still, what an impressive athlete. 1st Place: BMW 335i xdrive
Featuring the best combination of everything, the latest 3 Series just doesn’t have any glaring flaws. It’s still the master of the segment it created.