KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
Now in its fifth generation, BMW's 3 Series carries on as one of the world's premier driving machines. Both Sedan and Sport Wagon variants add more power and performance for 2007, an upgrading that also sees the former 325 and 330 lines redesignated as 328 and 335 models. Even the more affordable members of the familyrear-wheel-drive 328i Sedan and Sport Wagon and all-wheel-drive 328xi Sedan and Sport Wagonoffer an impressive roster of comfort and convenience touches in addition to their crisply-tuned suspension packages, standard Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) and powerful anti-lock brakes (ABS) that continue to win rave reviews from driving fans everywhere.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you're a genuine driving enthusiast who still believes that there's just something special about German automotive engineering, virtually any selection from the 328i/328xi menu could be just what you're looking for. Even at its entry level, the 3 Series package provides an engaging mix of character, quality and performance.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you prefer a suspension tuned more towards ride comfort than control, want a rear seat with lots of legroom or need a spacious trunk, the 3 Series may be less attractive than some of its European or Japanese competitorsalthough the Sport Wagon does offer 25-percent more cargo room even with the rear seat up. BMW's iDrive integrated controller that's included with the optional navigation system also has been criticized for its unnecessary complexity.
What's Significant About This Car?
While displacement of the in-line six-cylinder engine in the 328i/328xi remains at 3.0 liters, the latest iteration incorporates upgrades that help bump output from 215 to 230 horsepower and raise maximum torque from 185 to 200 pound-feet. Galvanic silver trim elements add a more upscale look to the interior and pre-wiring for SIRIUS Satellite Radio becomes standard, while two new colors enhance the exterior palette.
True to tradition, even the entry-level 3 Series offers a full measure of BMW's legendary driving DNA. Fortified with more power and torque for 2007, both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive variants, in either body style and with either transmission, are quicker from zero to 60 mph and even more capable of easily coping with any kind of traffic situation. There's a precise feel to the steering and the well-sorted suspension provides exceptional confidence through even the most challenging corners. While some may find the ride a tad too tautparticularly when fitted with the optional Sport Packagewe think the handling advantages more than offset any minor comfort tradeoff. BMW's excellent xDrive all-wheel-drive system also makes dealing with inclement weather considerably less stressful.
Order a 3 Series with a manual transmission and you'll enjoy the benefits of this subtle but effective helper that automatically applies the brakes for a few seconds whenever you're stopped on a hill to help prevent the car from rolling backwards while you engage first gear.
Optional Active Steering
This high-tech adjunct to the standard power steering varies the effective turning ratio to correspond with vehicle velocity, making it easier to maneuver at low speeds while enhancing stability under freeway cruising conditions.
Although slightly roomier than any of its predecessors, the 3 Series remains a compact sedan that provides better accommodations in its firm but comfortably supportive front buckets than in a rear benchwhere six-footers are apt to feel a bit confined. The clean, elegant look is highlighted by standard leatherette upholstery set off by Burl Walnut, Poplar Natural Wood or aluminum trim. Legible white-on-black instruments and a multifunction steering wheel on a tilt/telescoping column reinforce its driver-centric character, while models fitted with the optional navigation package get an alternative "double-wave" dash to accommodate the central video display. Other nice touches include tri-zone climate control and a keyless startup system
A relatively long wheelbase coupled with short front and rear overhangs, plus a slight wedge shape, gives the compact 3 Series a dynamic flair that reflects common styling cues with the larger 5 Series and 7 Series, elements that are further reinforced by the signature twin-kidney grilles. Unique headlamp and taillight treatments help define the 3 Series' character, and the 17-inch wheels that are part of the optional Sport Package impart an even more aggressive stance than the standard 16-inch alloy rims. All 328i/328xi models are fitted with extended-mobility run-flat tires, so no spare is included.
Notable Standard Equipment
In keeping with its performance heritage, the 3 Series emphasizes precise handling by augmenting its well-tuned suspension with the comprehensive Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system. DSC interfaces with the car's powerful anti-lock brakes (ABS) as well as with Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) on rear-wheel-drive models or Hill Descent Control (HDC) on all-wheel-drive vehicles. In addition to the expected power assists, the 3 Series offers numerous comfort/convenience touches including cruise control, 10-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, Bluetooth wireless connectivity and a single (Sedans) or dual (Sport Wagons) power moonroof. All models feature run-flat tires, dual front and front-side airbags plus BMW's front- and rear-seat Head Protection System (HPS).
Notable Optional Equipment
Key single extras include a six-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, eight-way power front seats with driver memory, corner-following xenon Adaptive Headlamps, Comfort Access keyless entry/startup, distance-maintaining Active Cruise Control, Active Power Steering that varies effort and ratio with vehicle speed, a navigation system with real-time traffic information and iDrive integrated multifunction controller, Dakota Leather upholstery, Logic7 Sound System and SIRIUS Satellite Radio. The Cold Weather Package includes headlamp washers and heated front seats, while a Premium Package brings leather plus a subscription to BMW Assist that includes real-time help/concierge service at the push of a button. The Sport Package nets tauter suspension, sport seats and 17-inch wheels/tires.
Under the Hood
Revamped for 2007, the latest generation of BMW's ultra-smooth 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder engine now makes 230 horsepower (up from 215) and 200 pound-feet of torque (up from 185). That added muscle helps drop zero to 60-mph times on all models but has almost no impact on the overall fuel economy, whether you pair it with the six-speed manual or six-speed multi-mode Steptronic automatic transmission. Another welcome touch is BMW's sophisticated Valvetronic variable valve-timing system that bolsters low- and mid-range responsiveness while helping make the engine even more efficient.
3.0-liter in-line 6
230 horsepower @ 6500 rpm
200 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/29 (manual), 21/30(automatic) (328i Sedan), 20/29 (manual), 21/31 (automatic) (328i Sport Wagon), 19/28 (manual), 20/27 (automatic) (328xi Sedan), 19/28 (manual), 20/27 (automatic) (328xi Sport Wagon)
The BMW 328i Sedan has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $33,095. A 328xi starts at $34,995, a 328i Sport Wagon at $34,895 and a 328xi Sport Wagon at $36,795. All trims are priced slightly above their key rivals. Although Sedan transaction prices are still being determined, Sport Wagons currently command a modest premium, but Fair Purchase Prices that represent prices that consumers are actually paying can differ substantially, so click on the Fair Purchase Prices to compare. Historically, 3 Series vehicles are among the industry leaders in resale value, falling slightly behind competitors like the current Acura TL, but faring somewhat better than the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and about equal to the Audi A4 and Infiniti G35.