1997 BMW 3 Series Review

Pros & Cons

  • Great steering, top-notch suspension, and nice exterior styling.
  • Spartan interior and cramped passenger compartment.
List Price Estimate
$399 - $961

Used 3 Series for Sale
None for sale nearby. Instead:
See all for sale

cash graphic with confetti

Get More For Your Trade-In

1997 BMW 3 Series appraisal values can range from $147 - $753.
Find out what your car is really worth in minutes.
See your car's value

Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

People buy BMWs for a variety of reasons. BMWs carry an obvious panache that tells the world that you have, indeed, arrived. Driving a BMW also tells the world that you are a person who is young at heart, someone who may want to change their own gears from time to time; unlike, say, a stuffy owner of a Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, or Cadillac. Lastly, BMWs politely tell people that you like to drive, and to please move out of that left lane so you can pass, thank you.

The BMW 3-Series is now in its sixth year of production. Despite this, the car is still fresh and exciting; evoking powerful feelings of desire and jealousy every time we see one cruising down the street. Last year, new engines were introduced to the entire lineup, improving torque for both the four- and six-cylinder models. This year, the M3 sedan makes its way to these shores, and all models receive standard All-Season Traction. Other changes for 1997 include minute styling alterations to the interior and exterior.

The 3-Series is BMW's most popular line of cars because it spans such a broad price range. Starting at just over $20,000 for the fun and cheap 318ti hatchback, the 3-Series reaches its pinnacle at nearly $40,000 with the outstanding, high-performance M3 coupe and sedan. Despite the disparity in prices, the 3-Series models are uniformly fun to drive due to their wonderful chassis, excellent steering, and top-notch suspensions.

We believe that the purchase of a 3-Series car is one of the best ways to get know that twisty stretch of road that you were always afraid to introduce to your Buick Century. If you have the guts and the money, the new 3.2-liter M3 sedan just might be your cup of tea. This is definitely not the car for all people, back seat room is cramped and the limited cargo space make it impractical for large families. But, if you are a person who enjoys driving, the 3-Series is a nice alternative to muscle car machismo. We are thrilled that BMW has exercised restraint in these times of overblown excess. By keeping their revisions to those things that need revising, leaving the core of the vehicle untainted, the 3-Series is able to improve itself, instead of replace itself, every few years.

1997 Highlights

Traction control and heated side mirrors are now standard across the line. Additionally, all cars receive minor styling revisions to the grille and rear fascia, as well as in the cockpit.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1997 BMW 3 Series.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

I'll own this car forever
drandy,01/03/2014
328i 2dr Convertible
I bought my 328 convertible in '99 with 11k miles, loved it for 10 years, sold it to a needy college kid for two years, and bought it back 18 months ago. With 125k miles on it, the car is still a delight to drive. Soft top is still in good shape, mechanicals are still rock solid, drive is a delight. I use a local German car specialty shop that is much less expensive than a dealership, so brakes, hoses, etc., aren't as expensive as they might be. With classic good looks and wonderful driving behavior, this car typifies, "the Ultimate Driving Machine" - I'm a BMW-owner for life. If you need to choose between a newer non-beemer or an older beemer, go with the beemer. You won't regret it!
First car
whippersnapped,06/19/2011
328i 4dr Sedan
This is the first car I have ever owned, although I have driven many others. In my opinion, this is as close to a perfect car as there is (which is why I bought it. A logical progression, really). I got an excellent example of the model for 4 grand, and have since put less than a thousand into it over 8,000 miles. It is just bulletproof. I have never pushed the revs to the red because the car simply doesn't need it to do whatever you need. The interior is comfortable but you can tell it was a secondary concern after performance. The car has it where it counts, and that is what matters to me.
I'm never selling this car!
Ken,11/16/2010
328i 4dr Sedan
Well, I purchased this 1997 328i in 1999 as a dealer leftover that had been sitting on the lot for a very long time. I got a heck of a deal on it. I have driven it on and off for the past 11 years and when I'm not using the car, it's garaged. The black paint shines like the day I got it. The interior shows almost no signs of wear aside from the drivers floor mat. No cracking of the leather, etc. I have had NO MECHANICAL PROBLEMS whatsoever with the car in the 70,000 miles I've owned it. Aside from regular scheduled maintenance, I've replaced the brake pads and tires once and that's it. This car has proven to be the most reliable vehicle I've ever owned. I will never sell this car.
I was in shock up until writing this Review
merc272,02/05/2012
328is 2dr Coupe
The one word that pops to mind when i think of this car is "timeless". Its like a well maintained Italian suit, aged with beauty, but always stylish. The throttle response is a little iffy because the pedal seems to have a lengthy discussion with the engine and drive train before kicking me back in the seat. (that's what you get when you let the french design a transmission) never the less I'm never afraid to push it just a little bit more, and hit a blistering speed of 115mph on the highway before backing off the throttle. I was floored, grinning ear to ear like a little kid who had just gotten his first 22. rifle for Christmas. This is truly what a proper sports car should be.

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    0

More about the 1997 BMW 3 Series

Used 1997 BMW 3 Series Overview

The Used 1997 BMW 3 Series is offered in the following submodels: 3 Series Hatchback, 3 Series Sedan, 3 Series Coupe, 3 Series Convertible. Available styles include 318ti 2dr Hatchback, 328is 2dr Coupe, 318i 2dr Convertible, 318i 4dr Sedan, 328i 2dr Convertible, 318is 2dr Coupe, and 328i 4dr Sedan. Pre-owned BMW 3 Series models are available with a 1.9 L-liter gas engine or a 2.8 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 190 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1997 BMW 3 Series comes with rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.

What's a good price on a Used 1997 BMW 3 Series?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 1997 BMW 3 Serieses are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 1997 BMW 3 Series for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 1997 BMW 3 Series.

Can't find a used 1997 BMW 3 Seriess you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used BMW 3 Series for sale - 5 great deals out of 5 listings starting at $25,525.

Find a used BMW for sale - 3 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $12,513.

Find a used certified pre-owned BMW 3 Series for sale - 9 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $8,749.

Find a used certified pre-owned BMW for sale - 1 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $14,602.

Should I lease or buy a 1997 BMW 3 Series?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out BMW lease specials
Check out BMW 3 Series lease specials