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2018 BMW i3 KBB Expert Review

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KBB Expert Rating 9.0 / 10
This Car - 2018 BMW i3
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Consumer Rating 7.5 / 10

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KBB Expert Review

KBB Editors' Overview

By Scott Oldham -- Contributing Editor

BMW offers both the 2018 BMW i3 and the new more powerful i3s as pure electrics or as plug-in hybrids with extended range. Both are sporty, quick and quirky with unconventional styling and advanced technology like lightweight carbon-fiber construction. The i3’s open-space interior concept also separates it from the pack, as does its nearly $45,500 entry-level price tag, which gets you a pure electric vehicle with a range of about 114 miles on a full charge. Add the range extender, which is a small 2-cylinder gas engine with a 2.4-gallon fuel tank, and the price goes up to over $49,000. This setup is good for a total range of 180 miles, which is more than the Fiat 500e, VW eGolf and Nissan Leaf, but shy of the range offered by the less expensive Chevy Volt and Bolt or Toyota Prius Plug-in.

You'll Like This Car If...

As a city runabout and daily commuter it’s hard to beat the 2018 BMW i3. If you’re looking for a comfortable, spacious, and fun-to-drive eco-friendly ride with a beautifully finished interior and funky styling, you’ll like the new BMW i3 or the new i3s that offers more power, even quicker acceleration and improved handling.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Yes, the 2018 BMW i3 is a 4-door, but its rear doors open front to back, like the rear doors on small pickup trucks. They can be a pain in tight parking spaces and they do not open unless the front door is opened first, so rear-seat passengers can feel trapped. Also, the new BMW i3 costs more than its competition, and the Chevy Volt and the Chevy Bolt EV offer far greater range.

What's New for 2018

For 2018, BMW has created the new i3s, which is a more powerful and better-handling version of the i3. Like the i3, it’s available as a pure electric or as a plug-in hybrid. The i3s packs 184 horsepower, which is 14 more than the standard model, and gets wider tracks, larger wheels and tires and a sport-tuned suspension. Prices start around $48,650.

Driving It Driving Impressions

With a 0-60-mph time of just 7.2 seconds, the standard 2018 BMW i3 is plenty quick. Quick enough to leave most small cars in its emissions-free wake of self-righteousness. And the new sportier i3s model is even quicker, running from 0-60 mph in just 6.8 seconds. That’s quicker than BMW’s 320i sedan. An electric motor delivers its torque all at once, so the acceleration is instantaneous, and continuous. With no mechanical transmission, the momentum is uninterrupted by gear changes, giving the i3 an almost slingshot-like effect. Power is routed to the rear wheels, which gives the i3 better handling than most of its front-drive rivals, although it surrenders that advantage in snow or on slick roads. Its steering is quick and the i3’s wide stance and short wheelbase give it go-kart-like agility. This is a fun car to drive once you get used to its unique power delivery and the funky feel of its regenerative braking system, which recharges the batteries with the energy captured from the brakes.

Favorite Features

This advanced safety system is part of the $2,500 Technology and Driving Assistant Package. The autonomous technology maintains the desired distance from the car ahead at speeds above 19 mph. In more congested conditions, it creeps, accelerates and stops the car for you as bumper-to-bumper traffic inches along.

When a proper parking space has been found, the driver activates this autonomous system with the press of a button, and it essentially parallel parks the BMW i3 for you. Parking Assistant takes control of the BMW i3’s steering, braking and acceleration. It even controls the gear selection. This system is optional on the i3 but it is unavailable on the i3s.

For vehicle details and pricing notes… Read More
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