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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

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2011 BMW 3 Series Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.8
Out of 10

Based on 1003 Ratings for the 2006 - 2011 models.

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

328i, auto, loaded, Great Vehicle however

By on Thursday, August 14, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
6/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Nice lines, handles very well, solid ride, but"

Cons: "Poor gas mileage"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"This is a great vehicle however the gas mileage for a senior like myself who has a light foot is about 15 mpg average"

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Drove great, had reliability issues.

By on Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I owned and sold this car
Reason: Poor reliability

10 5.0
overall rating 5 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
5/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
2/10
Quality
6/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Great driving car"

Cons: "Reliability"

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."

12 people out of 15 found this review helpful

Good steering feel only....

By on Friday, July 18, 2014

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

10 3.0
overall rating 3 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
3/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
1/10
Quality
1/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
4/10
Comfort
4/10

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."

9 people out of 11 found this review helpful

Great car, has been really good.

By on Thursday, July 17, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 197,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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."

3 people out of 3 found this review helpful

The on,y car to buy!

By on Wednesday, July 09, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 51,000

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: "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."

5 people out of 6 found this review helpful

great drive!

By on Monday, July 07, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,500

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
9/10

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!"

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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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