I bought my 2003 BMW 325I in 2013. At ten years old and 140,000 miles I knew it was a little bit of a risk, but you can pick these up for the same price you'd pay for a Civic in similar condition. BMW or Civic? Come on, no brainer. Fortunately I have a lot of tools and am very mechanically inclined, so I can do all of my own work. I've had to change the water pump, cooling hoses, window motors, and a few little things. With youtube and a little ingenuity none of it is a big deal at all. If you plan to pay a dealership for this kind of little stuff, forget it. It's well worth a little work here and there to have a car with a buttery smooth straight 6, and absolutely impeccable handling. Three years later I still enjoy driving it. Sometimes I go to the store in the middle of the night and get my girl ice cream, really just because I want to drive somewhere. No more Hondayotas in my driveway. They're laughable after driving what is truly the ultimate driving machine. Mine just hit 170k with no current issues at all. I'll get 200+ smiling the whole way. I will warn, however, if you're buying a used one, the maintenance and care that has gone into it previously is of the utmost importance! Check it, double check it, do your research and then check it again!
Let's face it, if you buy a +10 years old car it will need some attention. BMW's are known for being very good machines as long as you take good care of them, they are not cheap to maintain, but (as the title says) you get what you pay for. If you expect to drive a boat like this with a low budget, do yourself a favor, go buy a Toyota. On the other way, If you are handy enough to make some DIY it's the perfect car for you, if you don't have the time/ skills/ place but still want to drive one, find a reputable independent shop that specializes in BMW instead of taking it to a stealership and you'll save some money. It's not a car you can take to Pep Boy's and have it fixed for cheap; you'll end up paying more and losing time. It's worth pay some extra and get it fixed right the first time. Being that said it's a great car, it has 50/50 weight distribution, a traction control that actually works, great handling, acceleration, brakes and a powerful and simple engine. The electronics have their days, sometimes a few things tend to fail (remember, it's a +10 years old car) but nothing that'll leave you on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck. The car itself has a level of comfort and security that most base and mid line cars don't have nowadays (heated seats, one touch in the 4 windows, automatic windshield wipers and headlights, rear ventilated discs, lecture lights on the front and back, remote window open and closing). I could sell mine now and buy a new Civic, but I'd be losing comfort, security and the pleasure of driving. You can buy one for cheap, but you are advised they are not cheap to keep running.
I bought this car almost 5 years ago with 88K miles on it. Because of where I worked for 2 years car now has little over 200K. With proper maintenance, changing oil when light comes on after turning off key, I have had virtually NO problems with this car. It runs like the day it came off the showroom floor. You guys saying poor reliability or have tons of repair work on it - did a poor job of inspecting the car before you bought it. The place where I bought the car from took care of every little thing and I had it worked on, at his expense, at two different places, one of which was BMW. I absolutely love my car.
Let me be the first to say buying a BMW out of warranty is a risk, that being said if done properly it's one of the best deals out there. If you have the ability to do your own work, the upkeep isn't that bad at all. I rebuilt the entire front end suspension for $600 (chances are you will have to do this as well, it's a consequence of the suspension design) where a mechanic would have charged over 2k. The 325xi is a slug to be honest, it's heavy and not the best on gas. Oddly though, I have great fun with the car and enjoy being in it very much. Great in snow, very safe, sharp looking, and if you have a level head easy to work on and find parts for without paying dealer prices.
I must say, this car was a complete joy to own and drive. This car is a great starter car but the repairs and maintenance can be a bit costly but overall it's a great car and very safe when it comes to accidents (trust me on that one).