2002 BMW 3 Series Review

Pros & Cons

  • Luxurious, powerful, exceptional road manners, available all-wheel drive for sedan and wagon.
  • Pricey for their market segment, limited rear-seat space and cargo capacity.
List Price Estimate
$1,055 - $2,534

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Edmunds' Expert Review

If you've got the bucks, this is unequivocally the best car in the entry-luxury category.

Vehicle overview

The fifth-generation 3 Series was introduced in sedan form in 1999, followed by the coupes, the convertible and the wagon. We like 'em all. This year, few changes are in store for this homerun hit, among them some exterior alterations and increased feature content. Mostly, we're just pleased that BMW has abandoned its misguided attempt to appease the masses by lightening up the steering. It has now been restored to its former glory.

Sedan buyers can choose from a 2.5-liter inline six (models with this powerplant use the numerical designation of 325) that makes 184 horsepower, or a 3.0-liter inline six (330 models). The latter engine bumps horsepower and torque to 225 and 214, respectively, in the 3.0-liter engine and adds some noticeable punch to the 3 Series, keeping it ahead of rivals like the Audi A4 and Lexus IS 300.

All 3 Series sedans, coupes and convertibles receive a standard five-speed manual transmission, a sport-tuned suspension and ventilated front and rear disc brakes. Two versions of the coupe are available: the 325Ci, with the aforementioned 2.5-liter inline six, and the 330Ci with the more powerful 3.0-liter engine, larger brakes and standard 17-inch wheels. The more powerful 330 coupe reaches 60 from 0 in just 6.4 seconds and features a broad torque band. Both engines meet low-emission vehicle (LEV) standards. A five-speed Steptronic automanual transmission is available for those who don't want to shift their own gears.

Another option is all-wheel drive. Derived from the all-wheel-drive system found in the X5, "xi" models split 38 percent of the engine's power to the front wheels and 62 percent to the rear. The AWD package also includes a 0.7-inch increase in ride height and is available on both 325 and 330 sedans, as well as the 325 wagon.

If you opt for the 325Ci convertible, you'll have to lower the top manually unless you pop the extra cash for the power top, but 330Ci ragtop consumers get this perk standard. To BMW's credit, convertibles come with a glass rear window and rollover protection. Wagon buyers will appreciate the touring model's standard roof rack and rear window wiper, but, as with the sedan, don't expect to carry full-sized adults in the backseat for long periods of time.

Safety equipment on all 3 Series models includes All-Season Traction (AST) and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), along with dual front airbags, door-mounted side airbags and BMW's patented Head Protection System (HPS). Dynamic Brake Control reinforces the driver's effort during emergency braking. Rear side airbags and xenon headlights remain optional.

The 3 Series remains at the top of its game in terms of driving dynamics, looks and quality. For passionate road warriors looking to break into the luxury segment, this BMW is truly the Ultimate Driving Machine.

2002 Highlights

BMW has seen fit to give the sedans and wagons a facelift for 2002. An in-dash CD player finally makes it onto the standard features list. The center stack has been altered to accommodate the new automatic climate controls. Steptronic automanual operation has been altered so that you move the transmission lever forward for downshifts and backward for upshifts. Bi-xenon headlamps are on the options list so that both low and high beams can glow a cold blue and can be set to automatic operation. Rear side airbags are available for coupes and convertibles. Two new colors, Electric Red and Gray Green (and a Natural Brown interior leather) join the color spectrum.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2002 BMW 3 Series.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Don't believe the naysayers
irobot1,07/13/2013
330i Rwd 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 5M)
My current 2002 330i Sport is my 4th BMW and 34th car overall so I have some experience. This model of BMW - the E46 - is just plain solid. Yes, there are known issues such as window regulators and water pumps, but when you get past those annoyances and pay attention to the detail in the design of this car they fade into the background. It's easy to do regular maintenance on the car such as oil changes and brake replacements, in part because the parts are made with quality materials and still look like new after 10 years on the road. I think the E46 is possibly the last 3 series to have the classic BMW look and feel, and I have noticed the value of these cars going up in the used market.
Great overall car.
Jordan,03/12/2016
325i Rwd 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 5M)
I got this car after selling my 2000 Audi A4. It's pretty much perfect in every way. Despite what everyone says about it being expensive to maintain, it isn't. Sure, if you take it to the dealer for every little thing then yes, it's expensive. It gets decent MPG, it's quick, it's comfortable, it's nicely equipped, it's gorgeous. The only issues I've had is with the ABS, which every German car has problems with. Mine has now got 218,000 miles and still starts every time. Definitely glad I bought it.
Long time owner
L B,09/04/2016
325Ci Rwd 2dr Convertible (2.5L 6cyl 5M)
I've owned my 325 do convertible for more than 10 years and I've kept up with the maintenance. I've rarely had to make repairs on the car. As I've gotten older it's hard to get in and out of, but other than that, it's been the best car ever!
Brilliant All weather sedan!
Reuben D,02/14/2002
325xi AWD 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 5M)
I purchased this car(325XI w/Sport Package) after driving the WRX, Audi 1.8Q and 3.0Q and S60AWD. The car with the 17inch tires is a paragon of perfection, if you are keen on a wonderful tactile machine that communicates the road to you in ever so many ways, this is the automobile for you. None of the competition can match its lovely moves on the road. Throughly recommended, as also Kelly BMW in Columbus (Bill Reifsteck)!

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger5 / 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
    Rollover4 / 5
    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
    Poor
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2002 BMW 3 Series

Used 2002 BMW 3 Series Overview

The Used 2002 BMW 3 Series is offered in the following submodels: 3 Series Sedan, 3 Series Coupe, 3 Series Convertible, 3 Series Wagon. Available styles include 325i Rwd 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 5M), 330i Rwd 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 5M), 330Ci Rwd 2dr Coupe (3.0L 6cyl 5M), 325Ci Rwd 2dr Convertible (2.5L 6cyl 5M), 325Ci Rwd 2dr Coupe (2.5L 6cyl 5M), 330Ci Rwd 2dr Convertible (3.0L 6cyl 5M), 325xi AWD 4dr Sport Wagon (2.5L 6cyl 5M), 325xi AWD 4dr Sedan (2.5L 6cyl 5M), 330xi AWD 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 5M), and 325i Rwd 4dr Sport Wagon (2.5L 6cyl 5M). Pre-owned BMW 3 Series models are available with a 2.5 L-liter gas engine or a 3.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 225 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2002 BMW 3 Series comes with rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual. The Used 2002 BMW 3 Series comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2002 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 2002 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) 2002 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 2002 BMW 3 Series.

Can't find a used 2002 BMW 3 Seriess you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used BMW 3 Series for sale - 1 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $15,436.

Find a used BMW for sale - 9 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $11,040.

Find a used certified pre-owned BMW 3 Series for sale - 9 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $22,320.

Find a used certified pre-owned BMW for sale - 1 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $12,694.

Should I lease or buy a 2002 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