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2011 BMW 3 Series

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2011 BMW 3 Series Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 7.2

In the 35-plus years since its introduction, the BMW 3 Series has come a long, long way. For 2012, the 3 Series has grown into a raft of separate model designations, ranging from the 328i Sedan to the 335is Coupe and diesel-powered 335d Sedan. In between these extremes are more coupe variants, a handful of additional sedans, two wagons and three convertibles, along with availability of xDrive all-wheel-drive (AWD) models.

You'll Like This Car If...

There are sports sedans, sports coupes and sport convertibles. And then there is the BMW 3 Series. While any number of manufacturers will adapt key elements of BMW's mainstay into their product portfolio, no one - to date - has duplicated the 3's seductive combination of performance, handling and day-to-day utility. Drivers love it, geeks (especially those with an affinity for elegant engineering) love it, and families love it. True, Audi is making inroads into the American consciousness, and Infiniti's G37 represents a compelling performance alternative, but neither puts it all together quite like BMW.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If the balanced handling benefits of rear-wheel drive don't resonate, or you live in an area which places a premium on all-wheel drive, the 2011 BMW 3 Series may not be the best of your available options. And despite improved warranties and no-cost maintenance during that warranty period, older, high-mileage German is typically more expensive to maintain than older Japanese or domestic.

What's New for 2011

The seemingly still-new 2011 3 Series benefits from a number of small visual updates, including new hood and front fascia, new headlights featuring an "eyebrow" for the daytime running lights, reshaped exterior mirrors with enhanced aerodynamics, and a new rear treatment that visually widens the car. Additionally, the 3 Series coupe and convertible receive a new side-skirt design. On top of the visual changes is a host of new options, combined with new variations in color, trim and upholstery.

Driving the 3 Series

Driving Impressions For the committed BMW aficionado or someone relatively new to the marque, the driving experience is key to realizing - and benefiting from - your substantial investment. If you live...

in an area not conducive to even the occasional full-throttle blast, forego the BMW. In fact, you should probably forego individual transportation all together. A balanced platform, communicative steering, composed ride and stop-on-a-deutschmark (now discontinued) braking make for one of the most entertaining experiences in the automotive realm. And with available all-wheel drive (xDrive) and diesel power, that ultimate experience or joy (take your pick) can now be experienced in the snowbelt or by the compulsive greenie. One note of caution: If you live in an area of the country where streets are poorly maintained, avoid the sport suspension. Its benefits on the smooth stuff won't offset its punishment on the rough stuff. Each 2011 BMW 3 Series model offers a 6-speed manual transmission or, for a fee, a 6-speed automatic. The only two exceptions are the diesel-powered 335d, which comes exclusively with the 6-speed automatic, and the 335is, whose optional transmission is BMW's 7-speed double-clutch automatic.

BMW Diesel
We were inclined to suggest the base 3.0-liter six for its essential goodness, but defaulted to the TwinPower Turbo for its almost sublime explosiveness. And then we were reminded of rising fuel prices and the diesel's 36 mpg highway rating. With the thrust of a V8 and the economy of a four, it's the right powertrain for the car - and the obvious choice for the times.

BMW's Ultimate Service
If you have the financial wherewithal to buy or lease a BMW, it's assumed you have the financial capability to weather the 4-figure service visit. Just because you can, however, doesn't mean you want to. A BMW may be about the joy of driving, but Ultimate Servce - where everything from oil to wipers to brake rotors are replaced free of charge (during the warranty period) - adds to the joy of BMW ownership.

2011 BMW 3 Series Details
Interior

Few, if any, carmakers know their brand DNA quite like BMW. The 2011 BMW 3 Series is longer, and the greenhouse - in relative terms - is less generous, but the basic 3 Series design rules apply: long hood, short rear deck, and good sight lines to better allow aggressive urban or suburban driving. The 2011 models benefit from modest updates to the front and rear, but these are modest - and do nothing to outdate their immediate predecessor.

Exterior

In each of its successive generations the BMW 3 Series grows incrementally. Happily, each growth spurt nets a small improvement in interior comfort. Most of that, however, remains with front seat passengers, who enjoy comfortable and supportive accommodation. The 2011 3 Series is more typically targeted at professional couples and/or youngish families, and is never intended to be the principal people mover. Young professionals and their families will be very happy with the accommodation. For those needing more utility, the Sports Wagon remains in the lineup, as does an all-new X3 SUV for 2012.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

All BMW models come with a generous level of standard equipment, and all can absolutely kill you - or, at least, kill a budget - with onerous ad-ons in the option column. Choose the high-performance variant of the standard 2011 BMW 335i, the 335is, and you'll find yourself driving a sport derivative imbued with all that's good for the performance enthusiast. The 335is upgrades include 20 more horsepower - to 320 - from the TwinPower Turbo, and that power is controlled via Dynamic Stability Control and Dynamic Traction Control. And the "s" provides extensive use of aluminum in various suspension components, sport suspension calibration, and an aero kit. Mounted on 18-inch rims, the tires are staggered in width with 225/40s in front and 255/35s in back. Inside, if you grow tired of the sounds of BMW's twin-turbocharged in-line-6, you can turn up the standard HD audio.

Optional Equipment

While every imaginable option variance is available on a 3 Series, the 335is Coupe is the notable odd duck. You might reasonably expect leather to be standard on the 2011 BMW 335is Coupe, especially in light of a $51K base price. And you would be wrong. Leather - in a variety of attractive flavors - will cost $1,450, while the Premium Package, affording you a digital compass mirror, BMW Assist with Bluetooth, lumbar support, auto-dimming mirrors and a universal garage door opener will add $2,650. Separate options include navigation for $2,100 and Harman Kardon surround sound for a relatively reasonable $875.

Under the Hood

It used to be so easy. A "328" designation conveyed a 2.8-liter displacement, while the "335" would indicate a capacity of 3.5 liters. Despite our disconnect with the nomenclature, we won't argue with the results. The normally aspirated 3.0-liter in-line-6 produces an ultra-smooth 230 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque. The 3.0-liter six fitted to the 335i models boasts twin turbochargers and 300 horsepower in standard guise, and 320 when you move up to the 335is. Finally, the 3.0-liter diesel, also an in-line-6, offers a 36-mpg EPA rating on the highway and 50-state certification. All can propel you from zero to jail in an amazingly brief sprint, and hang out all day on the autobahn - or your version of the autobahn.

328i Sedan & 328i xDrive Sedan / 328i Coupe / 328i Convertible /
328i Sports Wagon & 328i xDrive Sports Wagon
3.0-liter inline-6
230 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
200 lb-ft of torque @ 2,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy:
328i Sedan: 18/28
328i xDrive Sedan: 17/25 (manual), 17/26 (automatic)
328i Coupe: 17/25 (manual), 17/26 (automatic)
328i Convertible: 17/26 (manual), 18/27 (automatic)
328i Sports Wagon: 17/26 (manual), 18/27 (automatic)
328i xDrive Sports Wagon: 17/25 (manual), 17/26 (automatic)


335i Sedan & 335i xDrive Sedan / 335i Coupe & 335i xDrive Coupe / 335i Convertible
3.0-liter inline-6 twin-turbocharged
300 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
300 lb-ft of torque @ 1,200-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy:
335i Sedan: 19/28
335i xDrive Sedan: 19/26 (manual), 18/27 (automatic)
335i Coupe: 19/28
335i xDrive Coupe: 19/26 (manual), 18/27 (automatic)
335i Convertible: 19/28


335is Coupe / 335is Convertible
3.0 liter inline-6 twin-turbocharged
320 horsepower @ 5,900 rpm
332 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26 (manual), 17/24 (automatic)


335d Sedan
3.0-liter inline-6 twin-turbocharged diesel
265 horsepower @ 4,200 rpm
425 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/36

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2011 BMW 3 Series Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.8
Out of 10

Based on 1026 Ratings for the 2006 - 2011 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.7/10
    Quality
    9.1/10
  • Reliability
    8.9/10
    Performance
    9.4/10
  • Comfort
    8.9/10
    Styling
    9.3/10

Superman in the rain, sport luxury perfection

By on Thursday, December 11, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 82,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

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."

16 people out of 23 found this review helpful

Can't tell it is diesel, snow is trouble

By on Tuesday, December 09, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,500

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

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"

4 people out of 7 found this review helpful

I am very pleased with this 2008 335xi

By on Tuesday, December 09, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

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."

3 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Love this car

By on Friday, November 28, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

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."

10 people out of 20 found this review helpful

Best imaginable Car at the Price

By on Monday, November 17, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 41,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

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."

12 people out of 20 found this review helpful

Sad To Sell

By on Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

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."

9 people out of 13 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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