2018 BMW 530e iPerformance

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I don’t know if I’ve ever used the word “bargain” and BMW in the same sentence, but the new 530e plug-in hybrid is only $200 more than a conventional 530e – and that is a bargain.

On an overnight charge with regular household current, the EPA says this BMW gets 72 miles per gallon between the electric motor and gasoline engine. The engine is a 2.0-liter turbo four. Combined with the electric motor, horsepower is 248. Running in electric-only mode, I drove about 18 miles before the gasoline engine kicked in.

Other than a power meter, the interior is conventional 5 series. Redone for this year, ergonomics and fit-and-finish are improved over the old car. Tthe large video display is great, but it’s surprising BMW charges an extra $300 for Apple Car Play when it’s standard on many cars in all price ranges. Rotary control iDrive, now in its sixth generation, is improved.

A silly option is gesture control that lets you adjust radio sound by waving a finger.

The automatic is an eight-speed.

Row two is comfortable and roomy. The trunk, however, loses some room because of the hybrid battery pack under the floor. Performance of the plug-in hybrid version is on par with the gasoline-only 530, despite being considerably heavier.

So for the 2018 BMW 530e iPerformance, I say thumbs up to outstanding gas mileage, an improved interior, and good performance; thumbs down to extra cost for Apple Car Play and silly radio gesture control.

The as-reviewed sticker price is $66,460.

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