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2011 BMW 3 Series

Overview
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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

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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2011 BMW 3 Series Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.8
Out of 10

Based on 1011 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

Excellent mechanical condition

By on Thursday, September 11, 2014

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

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Excellent mechanical condition, great performance!"

Cons: "Minor dings, tire wear"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Perfect blend of style and performance, this car has it all! It handles like a sports car yet is as comfortable as a the luxury car it is. Mechanically car is literally as good as new, amazing ride with lower than average mileage. There are some minor dings and tire wear. The sports package, premium package, and heated seats add to the pleasure of this very well appointed coupe, this ultimate driving machine is the best I've ever owned!"

5 people out of 11 found this review helpful

The ultimate drivers car

By on Friday, September 05, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 43,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Powerful, controlled and driver friendly"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Once you drive a BMW 3 series for few days whether it's on a highway or a county road you will be with it forever. The way it accelerates, the way it is planted to the road it's an experience. The best part is the way it delivers the power. It is close to perfection, buying my BMW is the best thing I ever did in my life."

2 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Excellent car, a blast to drive

By on Saturday, August 30, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000

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
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"This car is in great condition both mechanically and in terms of appearance. It was my wife's car and, unfortunately, she passed away not long ago. It is a twin-turbo mover but with surprisingly good gas mileage (26 MPH on recent trip). Perhaps equally important, it has 2+ years and 20,000+ miles remaining on an extended warrantee that can be conveyed to the new owner."

3 people out of 9 found this review helpful

Lived up to my dreams

By on Thursday, August 28, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 142,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "great to drive, good on gas, solid in bad weather"

Cons: "cup holder location. As if that's a Big deal."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Finally able to get a BMW when I handed the Nissan to my daughter when she turned 16. This car has been great to drive for the past 8 years and 140k+ miles. The 325xi AWD is the most sure-footed car, better in the snow than the Volvo XC90, better than FWD Nissan or Hyundai. It is responsive on the accelerator, brake, and especially the steering. Good on gas on the highways, getting over 30mph when averaging over the posted. Downside? The cupholders are not in a good place. And the back seat is not good for an adult traveling more than 2 hours. Next car is another BMW, but I plan to take delivery in Germany for that one."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Off the Showroom 2009 328i Sedan Still smells new.

By on Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,750

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: "Tight drive and quiet."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Only 21750 miles garage kept like the day it was bought. Great first car for a younger college student. Clean inside and out. You won't find a BMW or otherwise in this great condition. All service up to date. Records available."

6 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Best handling car I have ever owned

By on Monday, August 25, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 62,000

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

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This vehicle has done everything I have asked of it in all climates. It handles and performs like a sports card and gets over 25 mpg."

2 people out of 3 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

Buying this car?