Read the 2016 BMW 340i xDrive's introduction to our long-term fleet.
See all of the 2016 BMW 340i xDrive's long-term updates.
What We Got
On its surface, the 2016 BMW 340i looked much like the outgoing 2015 BMW 3 Series sedan. It was the changes underneath that got our attention and made this addition to our long-term test fleet of interest. The new, slightly more powerful engine and updates to the steering and suspension were modest but noteworthy.
We'd be borrowing this car from BMW, so after some back and forth, we decided to get the 340i, which had the 320-horsepower, turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine. Next we opted for the eight-speed automatic transmission given that's how most 3 Series sedans are equipped. Although we didn't need the extra traction, we also went with the all-wheel-drive model to see how it might fare on winter trips to the mountains.
Base MSRP for the 340i xDrive was $48,795. We tacked on a bounty of optional equipment packages: Technology ($2,750), Driver Assistance ($950), Driver Assistance Plus ($1,700), Lighting ($800) and Cold Weather ($800). Further add-ons included adaptive cruise control ($1,200), rear manual sunshades ($575), enhanced integration of Bluetooth and smartphones ($350), leather dashboard ($1,450) and its exterior Jatoba Brown Metallic paint ($550).
All in, our 2016 BMW 340i xDrive had an as-tested MSRP of $59,920. Here's how it fared during the year:
"This engine is magnificent as usual, despite being new, with peak torque created as low as 2,000 rpm and sustaining all the way to redline. The inline-six is silky smooth and is always willing to rev to its limiter. The eight-speed automatic is equally commendable, executing shifts responsively, smoothly and with virtually no slop." — Jonathan Elfalan, senior road test editor
"It's easy to forget that our 340i has well over 300 horsepower on tap. You don't hear any roar from the exhaust when it starts, and even when you get into it on the highway it remains relatively subdued. Don't let the silence fool you. This is a very fast sedan that could flat out embarrass cars boasting far bigger engines that make considerably more noise. The balance of refinement and capability is one of the things that makes this 3 Series so appealing." — Ed Hellwig, senior editor
"The steering has excellent weight and a good amount of feel from the electrically assisted steering rack. It's one of the more natural-feeling electric steering systems I've experienced in a while. Very impressed with BMW. I think it got it right with this car." — Jonathan Elfalan
"We needed a good road trip to help bring things back into balance, which is exactly what Editor Sadlier provided this month with a comfy cruise to the Pacific Northwest. The long highway stretches, combined with Sadlier's impressive display of restraint, netted us a record tank of 518.4 miles and 34.6 mpg, easily besting the EPA's 33-mpg highway estimate." — Jonathan Elfalan
"With the holidays ... I ended up keeping one vehicle for over two weeks straight. Since I'm a Los Angeles native, there weren't any epic drives to Grandma's house, just a bunch of short trips and errands in our 340i. Unsurprisingly, our 340i's lifetime average for fuel economy dropped while the car was in my care. What can I say? I like performance." — Mark Takahashi, senior writer
"My relationship with driver seats is like a 2-year-old's relationship with steamed vegetables: lots of fussing and complaining. Aggressive headrests, armrests that are too low to be useful, steering wheels that don't telescope enough. I feel a tantrum coming on. But the BMW is great. The seat is comfortable and all the adjustments are meaningful. The wheel comes out far enough, and I can actually use the armrests. The headrest doesn't force me to sit like Quasimodo. The thigh rest can be extended. And the seat tilt function ... the Bimmer is the only car I've been in that does it." — Will Kaufman, associate staff writer
"Multiple passengers remarked on how firm the ride was, and I couldn't argue with them. I've learned not to expect a plush ride in a European sport sedan, but this borders on not good enough. It would be interesting to try non-RFTs on this car to compare. Anecdotally, I've heard BMW drivers say it's night and day, and I remember being struck by how well the E90 M3 rode on its standard non-RFTs." — Josh Sadlier, senior manager of content strategy
"The trunk is not deep enough to fit two carry-on bags lengthwise. But the space is tall enough to fit both if one is loaded at an angle. Overall the cargo area measures roughly 34 inches deep by 38 inches wide at the wheelwells." — Mike Schmidt, senior manager of vehicle testing operations
"I expected more golf-bag-friendliness from this generously proportioned 3 Series. Two lightweight bags barely fit in the trunk, and we had to take the driver out of one of them. Maybe there's a better way to Tetris them in there, but given that this 3 Series approximates the size of 5 Series past, I figured a couple of bags would be a breeze. Not so much." — Josh Sadlier
"I hopped in the 340i Saturday morning and found a small part of the dash sitting on the cupholder. I first thought someone had broken into the car, but there were no other signs of damage. Plus, all the wires on the dash trim were still connected. It'd simply fallen out. None of the tabs on the piece looked broken, so I slid it back into place. The next morning, the same problem: The trim piece was sitting on the cupholder again. Curiously, on the morning after that, the trim piece stayed attached. Let's hope it stays like that." — Carlos Lago, senior writer
"This will sound odd, but I've often appreciated the way BMW does sun visors, and the 340i is no exception. There's a lot of resistance to motion, and this is good. It means the visor (when in the side window position) doesn't swing around and hit me in the face when making moderately spirited left turns." — Jason Kavanagh, senior road test engineer
Audio and Technology
"Is this BMW's idea of helpful traffic information? There's way too much data crammed onto the navigation screen. You can't see the difference between the highway traffic and the surface streets. It's a mess and far from helpful. It should default to highway traffic only and make the streets a different color. Otherwise it's just a maze of colorful lines that mean nothing." — Ed Hellwig
"Although the 3 Series is showing its age, the modern tech is all there. During my 200 miles with the car, I became very familiar with the radar cruise control and real-time traffic display on the navigation screen, as many of the miles were spent in bumper-to-bumper traffic going down to visit family and run errands in Orange County. On top of the iDrive controller is a small touchpad surface, and I found myself writing the letters to find destinations and input addresses far more often than using the scroll wheel to make selections. The iDrive system reads back the letters to you, so you can legitimately enter text without looking at the display." — Calvin Kim, road test editor
"When I brought our 340i in for a oil change service back in August, the dealership wasn't able to reset the car's oil change indicator. A diagnosis eventually led to the discovery that our car's oil level sensor was defective. At the time, though, the dealership didn't have the part (it had to be special-ordered from Germany)." — Brent Romans, senior editor
"Outside ... I crossed paths with my service adviser, who I thanked in passing. While in stride he turned to me, cracked his first smile, shot double finger guns at me and said, 'Thanks! And if you see a survey remember to give me all 10s!' He continued out of view behind a car then shouted, 'Text me if there are any problems!'" — Michael Massey, vehicle testing assistant
"I maintain that it's too large — this 3 Series is a great 5 Series — but that's been the case for years now. And I lament the loss of civilization's best-ever cruise control interface: the BMW stalk. The 340i's steering-wheel-mounted buttons are more fiddly than the now-extinct stalk (pour a little out), though the actual control-of-cruising itself is quite good." — Jason Kavanagh
"Eco Pro mode has a function that allows you to coast like you would in a manual, where neutral is easily accessible. It's very intuitive and makes negotiating midspeed traffic much easier. But for sitting in summer traffic, I'd want to reconfigure Eco Pro to allow for full A/C." — Will Kaufman
Maintenance & Repairs
The 3 Series requested routine service at roughly 10,000-mile intervals. And since all 2016 models carried BMW's four-year/50,000-mile free maintenance plan, we paid nothing for these oil changes.
Our car was part of two recalls during our test. During one scheduled dealer visit, we addressed an open campaign (service bulletin #12-43-15) to reprogram the engine control unit. It was at this same time, upon learning that the oil meter would not reset, when parts were ordered to replace a faulty oil level sensor.
Some expenses fell outside warranty coverage. When a suspected pothole impact left an ominous bulge in one of our front tires, it was time to break out the wallet. The damaged tire had to go. We also replaced the opposing tire for all-wheel-drive symmetry and because the car was returning to BMW soon. Finally, we felt it prudent to check the alignment. It was OK. But this string of events cost us almost $900.
Fuel Economy and Resale Value
Observed Fuel Economy:
The combined EPA fuel estimate for the all-wheel-drive 340i is 25 mpg (22 city/32 highway). After 23,000 miles, we averaged 23.5 mpg with a single best mark of 34.6 mpg. Our best range on a single tank of the required premium fuel was 518.4 miles.
Resale and Depreciation:
Our well-equipped 340i had an MSRP of $59,920. Its long list of optional equipment put it at a disadvantage in the resale market. Based on a private-party sale, Edmunds TMV Calculator valued the BMW at $37,325 at the conclusion of our test. This reflects a 38 percent depreciation from its original MSRP. By comparison, our similarly option-heavy 2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo depreciated 34 percent.
Best-in-class engine and handling prowess. Many useful technology features. Capable of single-tank fuel range over 500 miles. Free scheduled maintenance. Easy to find a comfortable driving position.
Fuel economy suffers from its fun-to-drive nature. Ride is firm on typical city streets. Some tech features can be better executed. We experienced a couple of build quality issues.
The 3 Series sedan is still a benchmark in its segment. It offers exceptional performance, sharp handling and responsive steering. If you're willing to put up with its firm ride and average-size trunk, you'll love the way this sport sedan feels every time you drive it.
|Total Body Repair Costs:||None|
|Total Routine Maintenance Costs:||None (over 13 months)|
|Additional Maintenance Costs:||$897.59|
|Warranty Repairs:||Program engine control unit per service bulletin #12-43-15; replace faulty oil level sensor|
|Non-Warranty Repairs:||Replace two tires; perform wheel alignment|
|Scheduled Dealer Visits:||2|
|Unscheduled Dealer Visits:||2|
|Days Out of Service:||None|
|Breakdowns Stranding Driver:||None|
|Best Fuel Economy:||34.6 mpg|
|Worst Fuel Economy:||13 mpg|
|Average Fuel Economy:||23.5 mpg|
|Best Range:||518.4 miles|
|True Market Value at service end:||$37,325|
|Depreciation:||$22,595 (38% of original MSRP)|
|Final Odometer Reading:||23,897 miles|
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.