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 Bob L on Monday, November 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 41,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Performance, Range, Handling, Fuel Economy, MaxFun"
Cons: "High initial cost of BNWs, but the best value."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Read the professional reviews of this car. They all agree that it's one of the best they've ever driven thanks to the incredible straight 6 cylinder twin scroll turbo diesel with 260 hp and 425 lb-ft of torque. The car is under-stressed at highway speed (80 mph at 2000 rpm) and with the sports package, will do an honest 150 mph. (Check out the YouTube videos of this car on the autobahn!) I've never met a hill where it even slowed down! With all this performance, it still gets 25 mpg around town and 30+ on the highway (I've seen over 40 mpg cruising on Hwy 5.) This car has all of the features and performance of the best 335i's with more torque and much better mileage. Yes, diesel fuel can be more expensive than supreme, but the better mileage more than makes up for the difference. Also, the range of the car is 400 miles. A nice feature for us who want to limit our trips for refueling. This car has all the features of the best 3-series plus full torque from 1700 rpm, the highest top speed next to the M3, and incredible mileage. The 5 year, 50,000 mile warranty has covered everything except tires, including a new battery after 40,000 miles on the odometer! The 2011 335d was the last of the performance diesels in the 3-series. The new 328d is the European 320d and has a 4 cylinder turbo engine. It is really about 2/3 of this car in every way."
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Brandy on Wednesday, November 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Performance, comfort, and reliability."
Cons: "Replacement tires are very expensive."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is the car I wanted for years, and I finally bought it as new. The car is so fun to drive, and the only reason I'm selling it, is because I've moved to a state where fwd or awd are mandatory due to the weather conditions. The performance, comfort, and reliability are excellent, and I will really miss my buddy."
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Dre on Thursday, November 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "twin turbo, awesome seats, exterior features"
Cons: "FACTORY TIRES, paddle shifters, interior, price"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"With this being my first German automobile, i can say that my mind is blown. The 335i offers awesome performance capabilities, while also possessing comfortability. The interior could offer more for the price you pay, but once you get behind the wheel, interior is a thing in the past. The exterior has neck breaking features that will look good even a decade from now. For being a 5,000lb car, the thing handles amazing in rain, sleet, and snow. This twin turbo machine possesses a lot of low-end torque that puts you in your seat and makes driving terrific when you're feeling like a speed demon. The gas mileage is a little disappointing. With this being a twin turbo 6 cylinder, i always find myself wanting to bury my foot in the gas, but even driving casually i find myself only getting around 15mpg city and 23hwy. This a sports car, so expect the suspension to be on the firm side, especially with factory run-flat tires."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By DK on Friday, October 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 83,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"The amount of times I have had to service this car is absolutely insane. Every bit of service is incredibly expensive and all the random electronic parts go awry often. Additionally, I have not had the best experience with BMW as a company."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By Rob on Tuesday, October 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 133,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Style, performance, comfort, stereo system"
Cons: "Expensive to maintain"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I've owned my 330xi for four years and put 80,000 miles on it. And I love it. It's great fun to drive on the highways, in the twisties, and in the snow. Repairs/replacements (brakes, shocks, struts, run-flat tires) can be fairly pricy, though. Shop around. Just can't beat the BMW driving experience."
15 people out of 23 found this review helpful
By mjmarovi on Monday, October 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 44,200overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Performance, Handling, Styling, Build Quality"
Cons: "Stock Rear Differential is Open Design"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I am absolutely a gearhead and someone who pays close to attention to all of the details of how a car is made, it's aftermarket appeal, or the quality of the driving experience in stock form it delivers. Although many cars offer similar options as the 335i like heated and power seats, automatic windshield wipers (these are superior to others I've used/had in other makes version), moonroof, etc. there are some key differences in the 335i. BMW's rack and pinion steering is absolutely one of the best on the market. The car is predictable and you always feel like you are in complete control of the car but not pushing the car past what it can do. The powertrain is purely astonishing. Everything from the motor, transmission, and fuel system are designed to handle power levels far beyond it's stock rating. (which is underrated by about 10% by the way). This is great for someone who is looking into aftermarket enchancements for greater power, or someone who simply looking for long term reliability from a car in stock form. Once you combine the interior luxury (no it's not an Aston Martin of course), but the interior is completely functional. It's not overly flashy, but everything works and is very clean. The retractable cupholders are a great touch and storage is ample. What really sets this car apart for me though is the timeless exterior styling and the twin turbo inline 6 forged internals powerplant, or better known as the N54. Truly a fantastic car that is tough to be without jumping up into a much higher price point. It's the little things like the active headlights and additional side light that turns on when you make a turn, the automatic wipers, the adjustable seat bolsters, the twin turbo motor, you just know you're not in an average car."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful