While North America’s automotive marketplace is awash in wagon-like vehicles of various stripes – from mainstream compact hatchbacks to luxury CUVs to hulking eight-passenger SUVs – the classic sedan-based wagon is as rare these days as hen’s teeth.

Not counting jacked-up wagons like Audi’s A4 Allroad, the few true wagons that remain are spread thinly across almost as many segments as there are available models: There’s the Mercedes-Benz E-Class in the mid-size premium segment, the Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon in the compact mainstream segment and, competing against each other in the premium compact market, there’s the Volvo V60 and the BMW 328i xDrive Touring, soon to be joined by the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

I was set loose in a Black Sapphire Metallic 328i xDrive Touring for a week, and the first thing to note is that mouthful of a name. I’d have used the briefer and more encompassing “3 Series Touring”, except there’s little choice to encompass: While the 3 Series sedan is available in North America with a range of four-cylinder and six-cylinder gas engines (or a four-cylinder diesel), automatic or manual transmissions, and rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, the 3 Series Touring is available in only two flavours, with either the 241-hp four-cylinder gas engine or the diesel, paired exclusively with the eight-speed automatic transmission and xDrive all-wheel-drive system. No six-cylinder engine, no manual transmission, and no rear-wheel drive.

That’s the bad news (especially, from an enthusiast standpoint, the lack of a manual) but the rest is all good news because in most every other respect the 328i xDrive Touring is exceedingly well thought out, solidly engineered, and thoroughly pleasurable to drive.

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For 2016 BMW has tweaked things ever so slightly, with changes including revised front struts (they now feature a five-bolt upper anchor point versus the old three-bolt anchor point), new rear dampers, and a redesigned electric power steering system. Stylistically there are some slight changes to the lower portion of the front fascia (the air intake grilles are wider) and the headlight internals have been changed to move the headlights further apart. Apparently the rear bumper has been slightly modified as well, but if so the change is so subtle that I missed it entirely. That’s hardly a problem, mind you, as the F31-platform Touring remains a handsome looking wagon with nice proportions and a road-hugging stance, especially when fitted with my test car’s big 19-inch double-spoke wheels.

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