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 Wally on Monday, January 19, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Very poor quality & reliability. I seldom drive the car because I am afraid a warning light will come on."
8 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By Kat on Saturday, January 03, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 106,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Best car ever"
Cons: "Maintenance is ridiculous"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"I absolutely love my car. It was my dream. But not even 2 years later and almost $8,000+ in repairs I just cannot continue. The hardest part is that it's the best car I've ever owned. Fun to drive. Sexy. Comfortable and the drive experience is absolutely amazing. If you can afford to fix the issues it doesn't matter but repairs are outrageous and totally necessary. In looking up reviews sadly I am not the only person with this problem thus my decision to let her go. I may buy another BMW but I will be very wary of what I decide to get.. Sad to let her go :("
24 people out of 38 found this review helpful
By CBO on Thursday, December 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 82,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handling, Power, MPG, Grip, Stereo, Fit and Finish"
Cons: "Expensive maintenance and eats tires."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"We have owned this car for 7 years and it's been a great car the entire time. Better in the snow than our X5. Surprisingly fast everyday, but in the rain its the fastest thing on the road. The stereo that comes with the luxury pack is amazing. The car has been flawlessly reliable, but maintenance is expensive. It does chew up tires every 30k miles. Sporty handling in all conditions. Everything works as you would expect on a BMW and has held up well. No surprises."
40 people out of 63 found this review helpful
By Tom on Tuesday, December 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great to drive"
Cons: "needs 4 wheel drive, now offered"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"The diesel is quiet, cannot tell any difference with gasoline engines. Great comfort features, quality body, some minor and one major concerns. Minor concerns: Navigation system cumbersome, does not store contacts for phone, takes minutes to load each trip Major concern: Rear wheel drive needs snow tires, cannot handle ice, adds to expense to have two sets of wheels and tires"
8 people out of 16 found this review helpful
By J.C. on Tuesday, December 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fast, fun car."
Cons: "Not cheap to own & maintain."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I have owned or leased six BMWs over the years, and I like this 2008 335xi very much. I ordered it from the factory exactly as I wanted. Six speed manual and no iDrive. When delivered new, the Dinan folks had a lightweight flywheel, performance software, cold air intake, stainless steel exhaust, and various other bits waiting to be installed to make the car a "Dinan 3." It quickly became an all-wheel drive near-M car with loads of performance. It's now got 100k interstate highway miles and has given great service. The factory replaced the high pressure fuel pump and the injectors under warranty. It's still on the factory brakes at 100k miles. Only other service need was to have the valves cleaned/de-carboned at 90k miles. I replaced the run-flat tires w/ standard Michelin Pilot Sports and never regretted. Has been a great car, and I plan to keep it running a long time. These cars must be cared for, though, and are not for drivers who want low-cost, low maintenance vehicles. These are enthusiast cars, and are high performance cars which require a little TLC."
5 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Joey on Friday, November 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great car to drive with good mileage"
Cons: "Cup holder feels like cheap material."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This 6-speed manual is very smooth and exciting to drive. We feel safe taking corners. Have had no mechanical or electrical problems. Minor issues have been a broken cup holder which seems cheaply manufactured for this car. Four year warranty covered the cup holder, torn leather sleeve covering the hand brake, and a broken seat glide shield. Purchased our sportswagon in Orange County NY in Sept 2011. The following month we drove to St. Petersburg, FL where we now live. This vehicle made the drive enjoyable and easy."
16 people out of 29 found this review helpful