The BMW 3 Series is the company’s top seller in the United States and a favorite in the marketplace for good reason: It’s a well-built, premium compact vehicle endowed with world-class fit and finish, ample power, and a comfortable ride and handling trade-off that is unmatched by most cars at any price. No matter what model you choose, our editors generally agree that you’ll be able to go about your weekday routine without feeling that you’ve sacrificed ride comfort for the sake of weekend thrills.
The current model, which represents the fifth-generation 3 Series, is slightly larger, heavier and faster than the previous 3 Series generations. An even better car overall, the latest BMW 3 Series has a bolder look, revised suspension and braking, more power and more interior space. It tends to cost more than the competition, but if you go easy on the optional equipment, we think you’ll find that the price of admission is well worth it.
No matter what year you’re looking at, however, the BMW 3 Series remains the unequivocal “ultimate driving machine” and popular favorite in the entry-luxury category.
Current BMW 3 Series
The BMW 3 Series is offered in a variety of body styles (sedan, wagon, coupe and convertible) and engine choices. The 328i is available in all body styles and features a naturally aspirated 3.0-liter inline-6 (230 horsepower, 200 pound-feet of torque). The 335i is available in all but the wagon body and features a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 engine that’s rated at 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. The 335d comes only as a sedan and features a 3.0-liter turbodiesel (265 hp and a substantial 425 lb-ft of torque). A six-speed manual is standard on all but the 335d, which comes with the otherwise optional six-speed automatic. All-wheel drive (dubbed xDrive) is available on gasoline-powered sedans, coupes and wagons.
Inside, drivers will find a restrained show of luxury, with an emphasis on driver comfort and involvement — supportive seats underneath and a clean, clear analog gauge cluster dead ahead. Materials and build quality are exceptional in keeping with its price point; even the standard leatherette upholstery looks and feels better than one might expect. In the convertible, the optional leather upholstery features sun-reflective pigments that lower the temperature of dark-colored leather surfaces. For those who avoid convertibles because of the dreaded SBS (sweaty butt syndrome), your open-top chariot has arrived.
If you can ante up the considerable bottom line, the BMW 3 Series is still the standard-bearer of the compact luxury-sport class. It is a mixture of perfectly sorted and balanced vehicle dynamics, abundant and smooth power, a wide range of configurations to suit any buyer and available all-wheel drive for those who can’t afford to let a little inclement weather stand between them and their well-appointed journeys.