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James Flammang
Contributing Editor - August 24, 2016

Expert Rating

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23 City / 35 Highway

Unlike other websites and magazines, our ratings are not based solely on a singular road test, but rather a more encompassing batch of criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value. When comparing vehicles using our Rating System, it's important to note that the rating earned by each vehicle correlates only to the models within its class. For example, a compact car cannot be compared to a SUV—They are different vehicles altogether.

You can interpret our ratings in the following way:

5-Star: Outstanding vehicle. Only the most exceptional vehicles achieve this rating.

4-Star: Very Good vehicle. Very good and close to being the best vehicle in its class.

3-Star: Good vehicle. Decent, but not quite the best. Often affordable, but lacking key features found in vehicles of the same class.

2-Star: Below average vehicle. Not recommended, and lacking attributes a car buyer would come to expect for the price.

1-Star: Poor vehicle. Simply does not deserve to be on the road.


Ranking as the most affordable model in the compact BMW 3 Series, the 320i sedan focuses on efficiency and value, while retaining its luxury car credentials. Not every BMW feature is included or available on the 320i, including active-safety equipment. Still, most of the essential ingredients that have made the 3 Series so successful, for so long, are present in the entry-level 320i edition.

What's New for 2017

Changes are minimal for the 2017 model year. Venetian Beige interiors are now available only with black carpeting. Optional choices include Venetian Beige and Black Dakota leather upholstery, as well as Oyster color. Wireless charging and a wi-fi hotspot with enhanced USB connectivity are optional.

Choosing Your BMW 320i

Once again, the 320i holds a turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder engine that develops 180 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, but a six-speed manual gearbox remains available as a no-cost option.

Like most BMWs, the 320i comes standard with rear-wheel drive, but you can opt for the xDrive all-wheel drive system instead. A 320i is the slowest-accelerating member of the 3 Series family, but also the most frugal. With rear-drive, either transmission earns an EPA fuel economy estimate of 23 mpg in city driving and 35 mpg on the highway. Combined driving is estimated at 28 mpg (27 mpg with manual shift).

BMW’s Driving Dynamics Control includes Eco Pro, Comfort, and Sport settings. Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights and wipers, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth phone and audio, and a premium nine-speaker sound system with HD radio. Seats are upholstered in leatherette material that BMW calls SensaTec. Wood trim is available as a $500 upgrade.

Adding a Premium package for $3,100 brings a group of comfort/convenience features, including power front seats with driver memory, satellite radio, keyless access, a hands-free power trunk lid, a moonroof, garage-door opener, and auto-dimming inside/outside mirrors. The $800 Cold Weather package adds heated seats all around and a heated steering wheel. For $950, the Driver Assistance package equips the 320i with a rearview camera and front/rear parking sensors. There's also a Lighting package with LED headlights and foglamps.

Leather upholstery is offered as an individual option, for $1,450, in a choice of three colors. Several features from the Premium package are available separately, too. Navigation remains a standalone option.

For a more aggressive feel, the Sport package tacks on 18-inch wheels, anthracite black headliner, sport seats, and an M steering wheel. Dedicated enthusiasts might want to consider the $2,300 Track Handling package, which includes an adaptive M sport suspension as well as upgraded variable steering and brakes.

Prices start at $34,145 (including destination charge). BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive adds $2,000.

CarsDirect Tip

Despite its well-known advantages in handling qualities, one thing is wholly absent from the 320i: active-safety features, which are at least optional on plenty of models nowadays. To get such equipment, you have to move up to a higher point in the 3 Series lineup. Even the rearview camera is offered only in an option group. Adding too many options to the 320i, whether grouped or individual, spoils its best attribute: value.

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Read our review on the BMW 320 »

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