"She can be a bit fussy, maintenance is key! Be prepared to spend more than you will with a Honda, but then again this is no rice burner. Fit and finish is top of the line, quality is found at every turn. You don't buy this car because it is an economical grocery mover or "Mom Mobile". You buy this car because it is a joy to drive, has power on tap, and at the end of a hard day is therapeutic to drop the top!"
Pros: "Athletic, balanced, attractive, smooth, and fun"
Cons: "Small trunk and rear seat, limited storage space."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This body style came to America for the 1999 model year and stayed in production until 2005 in sedan form. Many consider this the best 3 series as newer models have become more luxurious, burdened with needless tech and saddled with electronic steering....and now a 4 cylinder! the 2.5 liter inline 6 has always been one of the top rated engines by car experts. The sound of it at full throttle is music to the ears. While not super powerful or torquey it still moves the car with authority while getting 30 mpg highway. Not a bad trade off at all. Nothing drives like a 3 series and I have owned a LOT of cars in my day. The near 50/50 weight distribution, responsive chassis and connected steering are very hard to find and the only cars I have driven that come close are the Cadillac CTS and the Infinity G series. The car had great visibility and rides very well for its size. It cruises nicely at 80 and the seats are comfortable for long drives.
If I were to change anything it would be back seat and trunk space. Both of which are very limited. The folding seat was an option on this model and it is one that should have been standard.....never sure why that was the case. So, it is small if you carry passengers a lot and the trunk is also smaller than most cars in this class. If you can live with that there isn't much I would change except for maybe more in cabin storage space. These cars can now be purchase in the 5-10k range and are worth every cent. I have owned 4 E46 BMWs and they just impossible to top if you love driving.
Issues to be on the lookout for that go bad on EVERY one of these cars. The secondary air system that you will hear and will run for a few minutes when you first start the car. This always seems to go bad at some point. WINDOW REGULATORS are probably the number one "go bad" thing and only last about 6 years I am told. They are about 350-550 depending on dealer vs speciality shop (labor). There was a fault with the radiators as well so have that looked at. BMW said the auto transmissions were "sealed" but then rescinded that and they should now be flushed so don't let someone tell you that they don't need it, they do. When you get the tranny flushed it has to be done twice in a row to get all of the fluid out and there is a special tool to pump the fluid out that only BMW has so beware of places like Jiffy Lube or Midas, they won't do it properly. Above all else, buy one owned by an enthusiast and make sure the car was kept up service-wise or else they can get expensive to repair. Enjoy, there is no car quite like it!"
"My car with 90K miles is still an absolute blast to drive. If you find a good non-dealer mechanic, this car will last for ever! If I get fewer than 200,000 miles I'll be disappointed. Would have given 5 stars for quality, but some of the minor, non-mechanical things that go wrong can be annoying."
"This is my second 3 Series and I'm so thankful to have it! First was a 1997 318. Found this 325ci used with 67000 miles! Drives and looks like new! Friends and co-workers thought I'd bought a new BMW. Love this car! Six cylinder power is silky smooth and fast! The five speed automatic shifts unnoticed with manual mode when needed. Gas mileage is 27-31 on highway with little difference between driving "sensibly" at 65-70, or as the car wants at 80! 100 mph comes at just 3500 rpm. Brakes work so well you must watch BEHIND to avoid being rear-ended by an average car... With the Sport and Premium packages, the power seats are so comfortable and the car rides and handles so well, you will want to go for a ride just to go for a ride! I'm 6'3" and the seat's nowhere close to all the way back too! 15000 miles on oil changes, free loaner cars at dealerships and it costs just a fraction more to have them change the oil? Wow! Goodbye dirty hands! Buy a 3 Series six cylinder car, you will NOT be disappointed, they really are The Ultimate Driving Machines!"