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Anthony Sophinos
Automotive Editor - April 17, 2018

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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.

2018 BMW 3-Series OVERVIEW

Becoming a legend isn't easy, but BMW's evergreen 3-Series has pulled it off. For years it has offered buyers a uniquely formulated mix of high quality craftsmanship and engaging driving dynamics which now define this Teutonic heavyweight. Through the continuous honing of these time-honored traits, this unassuming four-door has managed to transform the compact sport sedan segment from obscure niche to mainstream mainstay. With a mélange of body styles and engines, the 3 still remains an enticing choice in the hotly-contested segment it created.

What's New for 2018

LED foglights and headlights are now standard across the line. Buyers can now paint their 3 in Sunset Orange Metallic and finish the (optional) leather interior in Cognac Brown.

Mercedes-Benz CLA Class

Choosing Your BMW 3-Series

BMW makes it easy to lose an afternoon on its website building the ideal 3-Series. Specifically, there are three body styles – sedan, Sport Wagon, and Gran Touring – four powertrains (not counting the M3), and five trim levels to mix and match. To add to the fun, each trim level has multiple packages and tiers. While not every engine, body style, and trim are compatible, there is still ample leeway for even the choosiest buyer.

Regardless of model or body, all 3s come standard with auto stop/start, an eight-speed automatic transmission, automatic emergency collision notification, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, Bluetooth, and a 6.5-inch infotainment screen with iDrive.

The base engine, found in the 320i, is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. In this trim, it puts out 180 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque, and promises to return 23 miles per gallon city, 35 highway and 28 combined when equipped with the eight-speed automatic. You’ll only find this engine in the four-door sedan body.

The 330i is a step up from the 320i but uses the same 2.0-liter. For this application, BMW corrals some additional ponies, bringing total output to 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy unsurprisingly suffers a bit compared to its lower-tiered sibling, with an EPA-estimated 24/34/27 for the auto-equipped car. The most popular setup, BMW offers this more powerful four-cylinder in all body styles.

Springing for the 340i means getting a 3.0-liter, turbocharged six-cylinder. The inline-six, an engine that has long been a cornerstone of BMW’s character, gives the 3-Series 320 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. With the automatic, fuel economy is 21/32/25. BMW currently sells the 340i as a sedan, Sport Wagon, or Grand Touring.

BMW also has on tap two non-traditional offerings: both are 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinders, but one runs on diesel while the other relies on gas, an electric motor, and a lithium-ion battery pack. The diesel-powered 328d puts out 180 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, and sips fuel at a miserly 31/43/36. The plug-in-hybrid 330e iPerformance has 258 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque – fully charged, it will return up to 71 MPGe in combined driving, not to mention 14 miles of all-electric range. The 328d is available as a sedan or Sport Wagon, while the 330e is limited to the sedan body.

While the entire 3-Series line comes standard with an eight-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive, BMW does offer a no-cost six-speed manual and an xDrive all-wheel-drive system. The six-speed is available on all gas-powered sedans, provided they aren’t carrying the all-wheel-drive system. You won’t find it on the Sport Wagon or Gran Turismo bodies, though. All-wheel drive is more broadly available – it’s a $2,000 option on all sedan variants except for the plug-in hybrid, which is rear-drive only, while it’s standard equipment with both the Sport Wagon and GT bodies.

The Sport Wagon body is, unsurprisingly, the most versatile. It offers 27.5 cubic feet of cargo volume with the second-row seats in place, and a maximum of 61.5 cubes with the back seats folded. The GT, with its hunched back and wide-opening semi-hatch, isn’t far behind – there’s a minimum of 24.6 cubic feet and a maximum of 56.8.

Once you’ve chosen your body style and powertrain, the next step in the process requires customers choose from one of the many design packages offered on each trim. While the 330i, 340i, 328d, and 330e share their design packages, the 320i gets exclusive Sport Design and Sport Plus Design packages. The former is the default and is free of charge., while the latter demands $3,550 but adds a sporty body kit, an M suspension, more supportive seats, and one of three 18-inch wheel designs.

The four other trims get some combination of the Sport Line, Luxury, Shadow Sport Edition, and M Sport designs. The Sport and Luxury designs are no-cost items that add either a sporty body kit with black accents or a more restrained body with chrome accents. The Shadow Sport Edition is available sporadically and amplifies the Sport Line’s black accents with smoked taillights, black headlight housings, gloss-black grille surrounds, and black-chrome tailpipes. The M Sport Design is usually the priciest, but comes with real, functional upgrades – look for an M steering wheel in the cabin, a sport suspension, 18-inch M-branded wheels, and an even more aggressive version of the Sport Line’s body kit.

You’re not done yet, though. After choosing a design, BMW offers three equipment tiers although unlike the last step, customers are free to pass on this content. The Convenience Tier adds a sunroof, SiriusXM satellite radio, proximity entry with push-button start, and adjustable lumbar support – typically, this equipment tier is included with the M Sport Design.

Going for the Premium Tier brings adds a head-up display, navigation with real-time traffic, and heated front seats to the Convenience Tier’s gear. Finally, and only available on certain models, is the Executive Tier. It takes the previous two setups and adds adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams, a surround-view camera system, an automatic parking assistant, and a digital instrument cluster. These packages vary slightly based on the selected trim. There are also an array of standalone options, which we’ll note where applicable.

But before you get to choose from that list, there’s a lone package to grab – the $500 Driving Assistance Package. It’s a worthwhile purchase, adding BMW’s Active Driving Assistant (forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection and lane-departure warning), on top of speed limit recognition.


The most affordable 3-Series is the sedan-only 320i, powered by the 180-horsepower 2.0-liter and costing $35,895 (including $995 destination charge)

The Sport Design comes standard, although the Sport Plus Design is a $3,350 option. Unlike the rest of the 3-Series range, BMW’s equipment tiers are slightly different here – the $2,250 Convenience Tier adds simpler features that are already standard on the 330i and above. Power front seats, a sunroof, and auto-dimming mirrors make it a poor choice. Grabbing the $5,250 Premium Tier makes more sense – it includes the Convenience Tier, but also adds proximity entry with push-button start, heated front seats with adjustable lumbar, navigation, and SiriusXM satellite radio.

The Track Handling Package is unique to the 320i. Costing $1,700, it gives buyers performance bits like adaptive suspension, variable sport steering, M Sport brakes, and performance tires.

Much of the Convenience and Premium Tier are available as standalone equipment. Heated front seats cost $500, navigation adds $1,700, proximity entry is a $450 option, and power front seats ring up at $995. SiriusXM satellite radio adds $350 and includes a year of access, while BMW is one of the few automakers that charges a premium for Apple CarPlay, at $300. Parking sensors are $750, while blind-spot monitoring is a $500 feature. Finally, a wifi hot spot with a wireless smartphone charging pad costs $500.


Here’s where things get complicated, with three distinct body styles. The 330i sedan rings up at $41,245, while the Sport Wagon and Gran Turismo – which both come standard with all-wheel drive, we should note – start at $45,645 and $46,045, respectively.

All three bodies are available with the Sport Line, Luxury, and M Sport designs. The first two are no-cost items across the board, while the M Sport Design costs $4,750 on the sedan, $3,950 on the Sport Wagon, and $3,450 on the GT – it includes the Convenience Tier, which lowers the price of the equipment tiers by $1,750. There’s no clear explanation from BMW on the price difference. The Shadow Sport Edition is limited to the sedan and wagon bodies, but costs $1,350 regardless of body.

When we get into the equipment tiers, the Sport Wagon and Gran Turismo merge, mostly. Their prices for the Convenience and Premium packages are identical, at $850 for the first and $3,750 for the second. Those two tiers cost $900 more on the sedan. The wagon and GT both come standard with a sunroof – the extra charge reflects its inclusion on the sedan. The Executive Tier, meanwhile, is only available on the Sedan and Sport Wagon. The same $900 price difference applies, so the top equipment pack costs $7,750 on the four-door and $6,850 on the wagon.

Standalone options are largely similar to the 320i. Standouts include an $875 Harman Kardon audio system and adaptive cruise control for $1,200.


The 340i is only available as a sedan or liftback Gran Turismo, with the Sport Wagon and GT offering standard all-wheel drive. Prices for the sedan start at $49,945, while the GT body adds $1,950 to that figure, for a total of $51,895. Considering the $2,000 charge for all-wheel drive, the GT isn’t a bad deal.

The 340i does simplify the customization process, to a degree. The 340i sedan continues to offer all four design packs, although the M Sport setup is free of charge and the Shadow Sport Design costs just $750. The 340i Gran Turismo still isn’t available with that style pack, while its M Sport Package costs a hefty $2,550.

The Convenience Tier’s equipment is standard on the 340i, so there are only two equipment tiers to choose from. While the equipment on the Premium and Executive tiers is the same as on the 330i, the prices from sedan to GT are identical – the Premium Tier costs $2,900 while the Executive Tier demands $6,000.

The 3.0-liter six-cylinder 340i costs $49,945 is not available as a wagon. As with the 330i, there are four Design trims, of which the Sport, Luxury and M Sport carry no surcharge. The Shadow Sport is another $850 and matches the equipment proffered by the 330i Shadow Sport.
Only the Premium and Executive tiers are available; the contents of the Convenience are standard. Both tiers are available for each Design trim. As with the 330i, the only available package is the Driver Assistance Package.

Once again, there are no dramatic changes in the standalone equipment roster.


The oil-burning 328d starts at $42,745 in sedan form or $47,145 for the all-wheel-drive wagon.

The 328d and the 330e iPerformance that follows it are each based on the 330i. That means Sport, Luxury, Shadow Sport, and M Sport packages for both body styles. Like the 330i, the M Sport Design adds $4,750 to the sedan’s price and $3,950 to the Sport Wagon’s, while the Shadow Sport requires $1,350 regardless of the body.

The equipment tiers are similar, too. Prices for the sedan’s Convenience Tier start at $1,750, while the Premium and Executive are $4,650 and $7,750, respectively. Again, subtract $900 from those figures for the Sport Wagon, owing to its standard sunroof.

The roster of a la carte options is identical to the 330i.

330e iPerformance

The gas/electric 330e iPerformance has a price tag of $46,595, not including any federal income-tax credits it qualifies for. The plug-in hybrid 3-Series is only available as a rear-drive sedan with an automatic transmission.

The M Sport Package is, once again, a $4,750 option, while the Shadow Sport Edition requires $1,350. The equipment tiers are identical, too, so plan on paying $1,750 for the Convenience Tier, $4,650 for the Premium Tier, and $7,750 for the Executive Tier. The 330e iPerformance makes no changes to the individual options list or its prices.

CarsDirect Tip

The 330i’s power level is just right for most consumers, while the Premium Tier adds just enough gear without making causing a huge price increase. While the sedan is undeniably the most popular version of the 3-Series, we recommend the Sport Wagon for its modest premium, standard all-wheel drive, and increased versatility. If it were up to us, we’d be driving a 330i xDrive Sport Wagon with the Premium Tier, the Driver Assistance Package, a heated steering wheel, Apple CarPlay, and blind-spot monitoring. Total cost? Just a hair under $51,000.

Get your price on a BMW 3-Series »

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