By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 8.3
For more than 30 years, the BMW 3 Series has set the standard for entry-level luxury sedans. Despite the best efforts of age-old rivals like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 and Lexus IS, the 3 Series continues on as the undisputed benchmark in the category. This level of dominance is owed in large part to the variety of configurations that comprise the 3 Series line, including the multifaceted Sport Wagon, a fuel-sipping diesel, and an all-new Gran Turismo hatchback. To make the nameplate more accessible, the newly available 320i trim delivers 3 Series prestige at a buyer-friendly price. As for coupe and convertible versions, they will migrate to the forthcoming 4 Series platform, leaving the 2014 BMW 3 Series with an all-4-door portfolio. This is the story of why we named it one of the 10 Best Luxury Cars Under $40,000 for 2014.
Automotive purists on the prowl for the most enthusiast-oriented sports sedan on the market need look no further than the 2014 BMW 3 Series. Although entries from Acura, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz are certainly advanced, well-equipped 3 Series models hold the edge when it comes to the latest in-car tech.
If value, style, and quality trump handling dynamics on your list of priorities, the new-for-2014 Lexus IS deserves your consideration. Other noteworthy alternatives include the sporty Cadillac ATS, the well-rounded Audi A4, and the popular Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Two-door versions of the latest 3 Series platform are set to arrive in showrooms later this year under the new 4 Series designation. In addition, a new 4-door hatchback variant dubbed the Gran Turismo joins the roster.
Driving Impressions A major element of 3 Series appeal is their driving dynamics. They consistently perform at or near the top of their segment in terms of ride and handling. The exception...... is the bigger, heavier Gran Turismo hatchback, which isn't as nimble as its siblings. The 3 Series' fuel-saving stop/start feature shudders during engine shutdown, and again when the system restarts. Drivers can deactivate stop/start by pressing a button on the dash each time they start the car. The delightfully torque-rich turbo-6 is good for 5.4-second 0-60 bursts, but the surprising turbo-4 is only about a half-second slower. The down-powered 320i gets to 60 mph in roughly 7.1 seconds. The diesel engine delivers strong performance and excellent fuel economy. As a bonus, the twin-scroll turbocharger used on all powerplants is virtually free of turbo lag. In late 2014, the next-generation BMW M3 will arrive.
iPhone users can access a number of popular mobile applications like Glympse location sharing data, audio books by Audible, and TuneIn radio via the standard navigation system display and iDrive controls. BMW Apps can even read aloud Twitter and Facebook feeds.
SURROUND VIEW SYSTEM
Cameras in the outside mirrors provide a bird's-eye top view of the area around the car to aid maneuvering in tight spaces, while the selectable Side View function uses cameras in the sides of the front bumper to monitor traffic crossing in front of the car.
BMW calls its 2014 3 Series interior "straight out of the BMW design handbook," meaning an uncomplicated look with tight fits, simple shapes and upscale materials. The cockpit, angled toward the driver by seven degrees, presents important controls within easy reach. Overall, the cabin is quite spacious, and the rear quarters offer more legroom than the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Cadillac ATS and Infiniti Q50. The console-mounted iDrive controller is handy to both driver and front passenger, and its freestanding central screen boasts an HDTV-like trans-reflective, high-resolution display. On the practicality front, 3 Series Sport Wagon and Gran Turismo models maintain a sizable advantage over their sedan-only rivals like the Lexus IS and Infiniti G when it comes to hauling cargo.Exterior
When BMW's 1977 3 Series replaced the respected but ungainly 2002, its styling was a pleasant surprise. Thirty-six years later, its evolving design has never again surprised, and that's a good thing. Line up all six generations, and the evolution is so apparent that even casual observers have no doubt what it is. Today's slightly longer and taller model differentiates itself mostly by adding more defined character lines and creases, along with a visual connection between the headlights and the marque's signature twin-kidney grilles. The Gran Turismo hatchback, on the other hand, is an acquired taste.
Straight out of the box, base 320i trims come equipped with leatherette (vinyl) upholstery, manually adjustable front seats, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone climate control, and a 9-speaker sound system with a 6.5-inch LCD display, a USB port, and HD Radio. For comparison, the less expensive Acura TSX and Audi A4 offer power front seats and leather as standard fare. Safety features standard on every 2014 BMW 3 Series model consist of eight airbags, active head rests to help reduce the severity of whiplash injuries, and impact sensors that unlock the doors, activate the hazard lights, and disengage potentially hazardous electrical systems in the event of a collision.
In typical BMW fashion, the options list for the 2014 3 Series is both extensive and pricey. Features we feel are worth their weight in gold include the above-mentioned Surround View camera, a hands-free power trunklid that opens by waving your foot under the bumper, navigation with programmable waypoints, a head-up display that projects pertinent driving information onto the windshield, and adaptive cruise control designed to maintain a preselected distance behind the vehicle ahead. The sport seats, aerodynamic enhancements, suspension tuning, and lightweight wheels of the available M Sport Package help bridge the performance gap between the standard 3 Series and the fire-breathing M3.
Two turbocharged gasoline engines are offered in 2014 3 Series lineup: A 2.0-liter 4-cylinder in 320i and 328i models (detuned in the 320i) and the 3.0-liter inline-6 in 335i models. Both engines drive the rear or all four wheels through a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission. Diesel models get a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that packs nearly the same low-end torque as the 6-cylinder, but with significant fuel economy benefits. The ActiveHybrid 3 marries a 55-hp electric motor (packaged inside the 8-speed automatic housing and driven by a lithium-ion battery) to the turbo-6 for a combined 335 hp (not the sum of both peak outputs, since both engine and motor can't operate at max power simultaneously).
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
180 horsepower @ 5,000-6,250 rpm
200 lb-ft of torque @ 1,250-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/36 mpg (manual), 24/36 mpg (automatic), 23/35 mpg (AWD)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
240 horsepower @ 5,000-6,000 rpm
255 lb-ft of torque @ 1,250-4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/34 mpg (manual), 23/33 mpg (automatic), 22/33 mpg (AWD)
2.0-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4
180 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm
280 lb-ft of torque @ 1750-2750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 32/45 mpg, 31/43 mpg (AWD)
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6
300 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
300 lb-ft of torque @ 1,200-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/30 mpg (manual), 23/33 mpg (automatic), 23/28 mpg (AWD)
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 (hybrid)
335 horsepower @ 5,800-6,000 rpm
330 lb-ft of torque @ 1,200-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/33 mpg
The entry-level 2014 BMW 320i carries a rather palatable mid-$33,000 starting price, while 328i models begin just over $37,000. The diesel-powered 328d starts just under $40,000, and the range-topping 335i trims check in right around $44,000. All-wheel drive (AWD) adds $2,000 to the price of any sedan, and is standard equipment on the Sport Wagon and Gran Turismo. Sport Wagon models start at around $42,000, while the base Gran Turismo starts at around $41,500. With all option boxes checked, the 2014 3 Series tops out close to $61,000. Fully-loaded versions of the Lexus IS, Cadillac ATS and Audi A4 are slightly less expensive than the 3 Series. Only the Lexus bests the 3 Series at resale time. If the 2014 BMW 3 Series is the right car for you, take a look at KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price to see current transaction prices in your area.
By Bond95492 on Thursday, February 19, 2015
I don't own this caroverall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfort ride, 3 Modes Offered"
Cons: "Trunk space, I Drive/Changing Mode lock"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"I actually got the BMW 328i as part of a rental upgrade and was happy to try out this vehicle since this is one car I was considering for my next car purchase. Overall the interior seating is comfortable and the car seemed to handle well. I loved that you can go from a Econ mode to a Sport mode quickly. I definitely felt the difference when switching to a different modes (especially to the Sport mode). The car was very quiet on the road. In most cases I was going 80 mph without realizing it. It was an automatic and the shift gear was electronic and took some time in getting use to (from getting into drive, reverse and parking), but once you got used to it was good. The stereo sound and linking to my device for music was easy and the music sounded good. However, the volume is extremely low when it came to broadcasting my Siri. Was using this as part of traveling and found it useless. Needless to say we had two phone so I used the other for navigation while the other played the music. I didn't experience a low volume when making a call, so I was a little perplexed why the car had trouble on this item. Now the grips of the car. It is a key-less car, meaning that you have a button to start it. However, there was no interior trunk opener. To open the trunk it required me to get out the keys from my pocket and use the remote. If there was a button in the car, it wasn't stage clearly. Another thing I found was the trunk space was extremely small. I could only fit one standard suit case and 2 carry-on and one kids suit case. The standard suit case could not be placed on it's side (up right position). It is a standard dimension suit case and did not have this issue in my VW Passat. There was room above the suit cases, but I was still off by half an inch to stack a smaller suitcase. This was frustrating (only 4 of us traveling) when loading up the car and I'm really good about utilizing every possible configuration to maximize space. Needless to say one suitcase had to travel with the kids in the back seat. This became a concern since I didn't want to leave the suitcase in the backseat only for the car to be broken into. While I praised the stereo above, the controls of the stereo are only found on the steering wheel and the I-Drive Touch Interface system. Unfortunately, when transferring from each car modes (Eco, Comfort, Sport) the main info screen changes as well and locks out the the music screen that was on display. You had to wait for the screen to go back from the mode screen to the music screen before you can do anything with regards to music. If not you wind up being locked into the mode screen. This happen to me for a couple of times when I changed my driving mode and tried changing my music to fit he drive. Unfortunately, I got locked into the car mode screen multiple time which was quite frustrating. The last gripe I have with this car was the cup holders. For a hot coffee enthusiast like myself, I drink my coffee with a sleeve. Now when placing the cup of coffee into the cup holder the cup and sleeve fits with no problem, but when removing the cup to take a drink the sleeve gets caught on a lip of the cup holder. To make matters worse, it is a pain to fish out the sleeve from the cup holder. The lip is caused by two mismatched size holes. Really made me wonder how this could of happened and gotten missed when designing this part of the car. Overall, I was originally supposed to get a Chevy Impala as a rental car but glad I was able to try this car out. It would have been interesting to compare these two and provide some feedback, since this is the other car I'm considering in buying. Even with some of the quirkiness of the car design, I have to admit it the ride was smooth when in the comfort mode. Unfortunately, I it is not enough for me to consider this car as part of my next future buy line-up."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Jordan on Monday, February 09, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,400overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Drive, ride, looks, feel, MPG"
Cons: "Several features that should be standard are not"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This car has almost everything you could ask for in its class and then some. It looks great, drives exceptionally well and gets great gas mileage (I average 24 or so in the city and 35 on the highway - on premium). The 4 years of free service are an excellent touch to sell this car. One MAJOR flaw however - the car does not come standard with HID headlamps, or the bi-xenon headlights with the Halo's. BMW is famous for their projector headlamps and halo rings... and their best selling model doesn't have it standard? Don't even get me started on the backup equipment... Compromises were made, but the final product executes as it should, but for a price."
21 people out of 46 found this review helpful
By Minnotte on Saturday, January 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Luxury and power well matched. My only gripe is the awkward shifting it makes at slow speeds when I first get going out of my driveway in the parking lot ...it seems to jolt. Next time I'm getting the smooth shifting 5 series."
26 people out of 45 found this review helpful