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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 1039 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
    9.2/10

Good 2nd car for single person

By on Monday, April 20, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "fun to drive"

Cons: "Extremely high cost of ownership"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4

"An auto mechanics dream. AC repair, brake sensors, brake pads, and other less costly repairs plus high cost routine maintenance and I have spent almost $5000 in the past 5000 miles. No wonder the warranty ends at 40,000 miles."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

BEST CAR EVER OWNED

By on Saturday, April 04, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 115,000

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
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "great price and great car"

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

"From the time I steped on the lot this was the vehicle that caught my eye. A rare BMW color of barrique red. I then looked at the nomenclature (the number) and noticed that it was an XI model. 6mt, awd, 4 door, beautiful color, with brown lether interior and burled walnut accents. What a perfect car. Handling is great in all weather conditions. Will instill confidence in your driving ablities. Great car to own and drive."

12 people out of 19 found this review helpful

Best Car BMW Makes

By on Wednesday, April 01, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000

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
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Torque, ride, handling, mileage"

Cons: "Run Flat Tires"

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

"This car is absolutely amazing. It drives great, sporty but with a decent ride. The 425 lb ft of torque combined with terrific handling make it a blast to drive. And, to top it off, it gets between 35-40 mpg going about 80 mph. Out of 7 previous BMWs, this is unquestioningly the best I have owned. My only quibble is BMW's practice of using run-flat tires. They are horrible. I changed them out the first week I bought the car, drastically improving ride quality, handling, and tire noise."

3 people out of 3 found this review helpful

highly recommended for a sporty family car

By on Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 88,000

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
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Consumer reports said unreliable but not for me!"

Cons: "Too fast for teens!"

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

"Relative expensive new but it proved to be worth the price I will buy a new one again. Once the turbo cutting out was fixed under warranty the car proved to be very reliable! The power of this car is spectacular but driven normally I average 27 mpg and better! My car is 2 wheel drive but with good snow tires I never feared getting stuck in ne pa. I now have 88'ooo and the car is still tite and runs like new."

3 people out of 7 found this review helpful

Solid car great handling and economical

By on Friday, March 27, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 47,000

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
7/10

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

"This is my third BMW three series and I'm not disappointed. This is a solid car,great handling and economical."

3 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Amazing car, smooth, fast pick up.. gorgeous lines

By on Saturday, February 21, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 99,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Fun to drive, low profile tires, looks fantastic"

Cons: "No back up cam, limited interior storage"

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

"Love, love this car... such a pleasure to look at and drive; every time I get in I have fun, and the heated seats just add to that! I've never owned a car that hugged the turns so well, or allowed me to enter traffic and keep up a brisk pace with such ease and confidence. The only drawback is the bucket seat, in that it is a little hard to get in and out of if you're not used to a low profile car. Not good for someone who needs tons of cushioning or who has bad hips let's say. It's a sports car, and that's what makes it awesome! This driving machine is to love and use if that's what you're looking for! Only reason I'm selling it is that we are getting ready to move out west to mountain area, and I need to look at 4WD... sad to let her go, but this is truly a driver's car with good looks and a spectacular engine!!"

13 people out of 17 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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