All About BMW 3 Series: Why Should You Get this Car
BMW is a German automaker whose sporty, luxurious vehicles need no introduction. One of their most famous models is the BMW 3 Series, and there’s a reason for its popularity on the domestic car market.
A four-door sedan that has been in production since the 1970s, the BMW 3 currently has five trim levels: the BMW 330i, the BMW M340i, the BMW 330e, the BMW M3, and the BMW M3 Competition. It is now a couple of years into its seventh generation model, which arrived in 2019.
Despite this stellar reputation and long history, the BMW 3 has a lot of competition in the luxury car market. That begs the question, “Should you get this car?” You’ll also want to know how it stacks up to its competitors.
We’ll cover all those details and more in our BMW 3 Series review.
BMW 3 Series: recent updates and features
As mentioned, the BMW 3 Series has been around for a long time, with the last major redesign in 2019. There have been some minor tweaks in the lineup since that time, including the 2021 model.
For 2021, BMW reintroduced the 300e, the plug-in hybrid member of this stellar lineup. Previously, it went on a short hiatus starting in 2019. BMW also brought back the redesigned M3, which went on hiatus in the same year as the hybrid. They’ve also added the M3 Competition trim, which sits at the top in terms of performance.
The 2017 edition was the first year to receive Apple CarPlay, followed by Android Auto in 2021.
In 2020, BMW discontinued the Gran Turismo and sports wagon versions of the 3 Series.
One small note: The BMW 3 Series should not be confused with the BMW X3, which is also a fantastic vehicle but firmly in the SUV category.
Want the standard trim? BMW 330i horsepower and fuel efficiency
Enthusiasts have always known BMW for their performance-driven engines. In recent years, they’ve been making strides in the fuel-efficient market, as well.
For the 2021 BMW 330i specs, you’ll get a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 255 horsepower and an eight-speed automatic transmission. If you go up a trim level, you get a turbocharged six-cylinder engine with 382 horsepower and an eight-speed automatic. At the top of the 3 Series lineup, the M3 Competition rushes forward with an impressive 503 horsepower.
Want to be environmentally conscious and spring for the 330e? You’ll see 248 horsepower instead.
Rear-wheel drive is standard for all models, although you have the option to upgrade to an all-wheel-drive system. Fuel efficiency is excellent, with the base level 300i achieving 26 mpg on city streets and 36 mpg on the highway. With the M3, those numbers drop to 16/23 mpg.
For previous models, like the 2018 BMW 3, you’ll get 24/35 mpg if you’re using the rear-wheel drive.
Seating, storage, and tech features
For 2021, expect a large, quiet cabin with ample storage space in the trunk: 17 cubic feet of cargo space in the standard model and 13.2 cubic feet in the hybrid. This number falls to a flat 13 cubic feet in the top-of-the-line M3 for both 2021 and earlier editions. You can also split-fold the back seats to slide in oversized items when needed
For seating, max occupancy in all recent models has been five. Those five seats are incredibly comfortable, even during long drives. Synthetic leather upholstery is standard, with the option to upgrade to genuine leather.
When it comes to tech, the 2021 BMW 3 Series comes standard with an 8.8-inch information display, along with two USB ports, a 10-speaker stereo, HD radio, and Bluetooth connectivity via Apple Carplay and Android Auto. Again, Android Auto is a relatively new addition to BMW’s tech options, which means earlier models will be missing this feature.
Other standard tech features for 2021 include an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a tri-zone automatic climate control system.
BMW rating for safety and road handling
Luxury car brands have a vested interest in keeping their consumer base safe. With the BMW 3, you can expect a reliable vehicle with phenomenal road handling. That applies to the BMW 330i's reliability, too.
For 2021, regardless of trim level, BMW added automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, and rearview cameras as standard features. Upgrades that you may want to consider include blind-spot monitoring, front cross-traffic alerts, a heads-up display, lane-keep assist, adaptive headlights, and automatic high beams.
The 2021 BMW 3 Series received a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Administration and was a top safety pick of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Standout years for safety include the 2018, 2019, and 2020 editions, which means you can feel secure shopping for earlier models of this luxury sedan.
As for how the BMW 3 handles on the road, BMW vehicles are performance-driven, with swift acceleration and nimble handling around twisting roads. Their responsiveness, combined with all-wheel-drive options and multiple safety features, reduce risks in unfavorable driving conditions.
Standard models will get you far: the BMW 330i price
The BMW 3 Series is a fantastic choice for a luxury car purchase, full of creature comforts and desirable features. It will get you to where you want to go, and it'll do so in style. When you compare the BMW 3 to its competitors, however, how does it stack up?
BMW's main competitors are German auto manufacturers Audi and Mercedes-Benz. More specifically, the 3 Series' top rivals are the Audi A4 Sedan and the Mercedes C-Class, which are iconic luxury vehicles in their own right. There is no denying that all three makes and models would be an excellent choice for your next car. It's also no secret that each of them can be expensive if you buy them brand new off the lot, which is all the more reason why it's worth your while to consider opting for a used version.
However, BMW's strength is in its sporty handling. So if you're looking for a luxury car with a phenomenal engine, the BMW 3 Series will still be your top choice. Best of all, the 3 Series has been a top choice in this category for many years, so if you're keen on shopping for an earlier car model, you can save on that steep, upfront price by shopping online.
With Shift, shopping for a BMW 3 from the comfort of your home is a breeze. You'll know that no hidden issues exist from the 150-point inspection that Shift performs upfront on each vehicle. You'll also get a fair price to complement your shopping experience. This list of the most reliable used cars for under $10,000 will give you a decent idea of the variety that Shift has in stock.
BMW 3 Series review: the final verdict
The BMW 3 Series is a worthy contender in the realm of luxury cars, regardless of the trim level. Its deft handling on the road and interior features make it one of the most stylish commuter cars, hands down.
If you’re curious about those other car brands, though, or if you want even more evidence that BMW is the right option for you, then read up on BMW versus Mercedes to find out which one is better. After all, a little bit of extra research before any big purchase never hurt anyone.
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All prices are based on vehicle availability and pricing as of
September 24, 2021
Pricing shown is not guaranteed and does not include taxes or other product fees.