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 Sports Wagon variants are offered in two trims: the 328 and 335, with the later powered by a twin-turbocharged engine. Even the more affordable members of the family – rear-wheel-drive 328i Sedan and Sports Wagon and all-wheel-drive 328xi Sedan and Sports Wagon – offer an impressive roster of comfort and convenience touches in addition to their crisply-tuned suspension packages, standard Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), powerful anti-lock brakes (ABS) and handling characteristics that continue to win rave reviews from driving fans everywhere. New for 2009 is the addition of a diesel-powered 3 Series, the 335d Sedan.
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 and 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.
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 competitors – although the Sports Wagon does offer impressive cargo room even with the rear seat up.
The 3-Series Sedan and Wagon receive a slight exterior and interior freshening, with a new front end, revised rear end and a more dynamic profile. Also new are an improved iDrive controller and the addition of a turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel engine.
Driving Impressions True to tradition, even the entry-level 3 Series offers a full measure of BMW's legendary driving DNA. Fortified with abundant power and torque, both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive variants, in either...body style and with either transmission, are plenty fast from zero to 60 mph and easily capable of 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 taut – particularly when fitted with the optional Sport Package – we 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 2009 BMW 3 Series remains a compact sedan that provides better accommodations in its firm but comfortably supportive front bucket seats than in the rear bench – where 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 and 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. The new iDrive controller now features preset keys to call up menus for the navigation, radio, CD and telecommunications.Exterior
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. New headlamp and taillight treatments for 2009 signal the direction of future BMW sedan styling, adding more curvaceous features and softer lines. The 17- and 18-inch wheels that are part of the optional Sport Package impart an even more aggressive stance than the standard 16-inch alloy rims. All 3 Series models are fitted with extended-mobility run-flat tires, so no spare is included.
In keeping with its performance heritage, the 2009 BMW 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 and convenience touches, including cruise control, 10-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system and a single (Sedans) or dual (Sports Wagons) power moonroof. All models feature run-flat tires, dual front and front-side airbags plus BMW's front Active head restraints.
Key single extras include a six-speed STEPTRONIC automatic transmission, eight-way power front seats with driver memory, corner-following Xenon Adaptive Headlights, Comfort Access keyless entry and start, 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, HD radio 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 and concierge service at the push of a button. The Sport Package nets tauter suspension, sport seats and 17-inch wheels and tires.
Although the 328i and 335i share the same 3.0-liter engine displacement, how BMW tweaks each engine makes all the difference in the world. In the 328 models, an ultra-smooth 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder engine makes a respectable 230 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. In the 335, twin turbochargers up the output to 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. Another welcome touch is BMW's sophisticated Double VANOS variable valve-timing system that bolsters low- and mid-range responsiveness while helping make the engine even more efficient. The turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel features BMW AdBlue urea injection, which allows it to remain emission compliant in all 50 states. Generating a massive 425 pound-feet of torque, the 335d can sprint to 60 miles per hour in six seconds and is reported to achieve around 36 miles per gallon during highway driving.
3.0-liter in-line 6
230 horsepower @ 6500 rpm
200 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/28 (Sedan), 17/27 (Sports Wagon, manual), 18/27 (Sports Wagon, automatic), 17/25 (AWD)
3.0-liter in-line 6 Twin-turbocharged
300 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
300 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1400-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/26, 16/25 (manual, 4WD), 17/25 (automatic, 4WD)}
3.0-liter in-line 6 Twin-turbocharged Diesel
265 horsepower @ 4200 rpm
425 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/36
By Dawg Fan on Tuesday, July 22, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: Poor reliability
Pros: "Great driving car"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"We bought this car new in August of 2006. This was one of the best driving automobiles I have ever driven. BMW goes to great lengths to make it that way. Almost perfect 50/20 weight distribution and rear-wheel drive are two of the reasons. The car was a little small for my 6'-2" frame, but once inside, I had plenty of room. My issue with the car was reliability. We should have known something was up when the BMW Assist didn't work on the test drive. While on our first trip in the car we spent half a day in a dealership getting the computer re-programmed. We ultimately had issues with engine and transmission oil leaks, a popping sound in the rear end, tapping noise from the valve train, push-button start failure, cooling fan failure, tire pressure sensor failure... It seems like every time the car went in the shop we spent $2,500 a pop. Also, and this is not a problem with the car but was still an issue with me, we had to drive 130 miles round trip to the dealership just to get the oil changed. I would love to have been able to keep the car longer and enjoy it, but I couldn't stand the constant drain on my pocketbook. This was our first and last BMW. I get much better reliability from my Honda and it cost about half as much."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By Kallol on Friday, July 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "Steering feel"
Cons: "Horrible Reliability"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"I loved the steering feel of the car. Also the 328i is very simple and not full of flashy gadgets like the other cars have, which i like. Bad part is the reliability. Just after the factory warranty expired, the radiator started leaking. Had to do a complete cooling system overhaul which cost $1800. Next the rear differential started leaking. It was a $900 fix. Then the sway bar link bushings went bad. Another $500 just to replace the bushings. Between 50000 - 70000 miles, i had to spend $3200 just to keep the car running. This is really bad German engineering. BMW just does 1 thing right and that was the steering feel. Even that they messed it up from the 2012 year model since they started using electric power steering. The new BMW drive like a Camry. Suggest something Japanese like Infinity or Lexus. Because now BMW handles just like them. The steering feel is just like the Japanese cars. Very light and over boosted. At-least with the Japanese cars, you get decent reliability. Money that you save can be spent on something else."
6 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By anonimous on Thursday, July 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 197,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "nimble, great handling, good fuel consumption"
Cons: "run-flat tires, tight trunk opening space"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"The engine and driving is still solid. I expected to go past 250,000. I don't care too much about the run-flat tires, and the black paint on the roof trimming is starting to peel off. Mechanically, it's in great shape though."
By BMW4 eva on Wednesday, July 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 51,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Extremely fun to drive! Sticks like Velcro!"
Cons: "Maintenance at dealer $$$$$"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have a loaded 328i. It has about 51K on it and drives like it just came out of the showroom. The feeling of driving a machine like this cannot be put into words- you smile EVERYTIME you get behind the wheel! Sticks like velcro in turns, does not vary one inch on straightaways, it practically drives itself. VERY comfortable with the sport seats and sports suspension package. If you about $32K, buy one. You will not regret it."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By db on Monday, July 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "awesome to drive!!! and great looking!"
Cons: "cup holders in the way of front passenger"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The 2011 BMW 335 xDrive is an amazing car. It truly is the ultimate driving machine! You feel gripped to the road and the steering wheel is tight and responsive. Great at highway speeds, especially if wanting to pass another car and zip through traffic. I highly recommend this car!"
By Christoph on Tuesday, July 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Ultimate Driving Machine"
Cons: "Repair costs"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I absolutely love this automobile. My only concern is how tempting it is to speed, and I haven had anything major breakdown yet so I'm afraid of what the repair costs will look like when the time comes. I travel a lot for work so I'm in a lot of rental cars and always look forward to getting back in my 335 on my return."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful