I’m so excited to finally be testing the new 2006 BMW 530 xi Sport Wagon. I spotted it several months ago at an auto show and was intrigued by some of its innovative family friendly features.
With two children in child seats, I have the uncanny ability (gift or curse?) of sniffing out good and bad Latch connector designs from a mile away. I immediately gravitate towards the unique design BMW has implemented with this new addition to their product line.
A spring-loaded, hinged cover swings back to reveal the Latch connector behind. Wait a minute: These actually work! BMW must have a new mom on their design and engineering team who goes through the hassle of installing car seats on a regular basis. Not only do these work, but they deserve an award.
The only problem with them is that they are not on every BMW out there. So I’ve decided to start a “standardize the BMW Latch design campaign.” While we’re at it, let’s just go full tilt and get the entire auto industry to standardize all Latch connectors (and use BMW’s great new design). I’ll put that on my “to-do” list right below ironing the linen tea napkins from a baby shower I hosted nearly three years ago.
After installing the child car seats (and the children) I start to load up my gear. I push the little button on the key fob showing the open tailgate in hopes that it might, well, open the tailgate. I’m not so lucky, however, as the gate just ever so slightly cracks ajar. After referring to the owner’s manual, I follow the instructions for increasing the amount the tailgate opens but to no avail. The commands prompted in the manual do not match the ones on the car’s computer screen, so I give up.
After securely stowing all sorts of nicks and knacks in the two in-floor storage bins and netted sidewall compartments of the cargo area, I hook my umbrella stroller under the large elasticized storage bands (keeping it from sliding from one side to the other with every turn). Closing the tailgate leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy all over when all I have to do it press the lighted button and the gate closes automatically while I move on to more important things in life.
I jump in and start driving, thinking that I’ll just figure out the thermostat and radio controls on the way. Using my freehand to shift gears in my manual transmission test car doesn’t leave me much freedom to program the radio stations. That’s the excuse I like to use anyhow, because it’s less painful than the truth, which is that I cannot for the life of me figure out how this so-called iDrive computer system works.
Even after reading the owner’s manual and referring to the interactive driver’s reference guide on CD-ROM, I still can’t work the thing and feel like a total loser. My free time would be better spent dusting off the biological calculus text book I never read in college.
I am willing to look past this overly complicated iDrive system and the poorly designed cupholders that pop out from the dash because of the events that follow: When approaching a near total breakdown after one child in the back swipes the other’s last anointed goldfish cracker, my MacGyver-mom kicks in. I quickly open the panoramic sunroof (that extends from above the front seats all the way to the back seats) and engage the kids in a little game of cloud search.
Before I know it, the tantrum is a thing of the past and I’m enjoying a peaceful drive while the kids are actually taking turns looking for shapes in the clouds. How ethereal!
*For more information on the BMW 530 xi Sport Wagon and its safety features visit Cars.com.
LET’S TALK NUMBERS LATCH Connectors: 2 Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5
IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore
SENSE AND STYLE Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times