2017 BMW 3 Series

2017 BMW 3 Series Sedan Review

An artful blend of refinement and performance makes the BMW 3 Series one of the best in its class.
4.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Dan Frio
Edmunds Editor

The 2017 BMW 3 Series should be near the top of the list for shoppers wanting a compact luxury sport sedan. Whether enjoying its blend of features and refinement or putting its smooth optional engine to the test, you'll be impressed. It runs in a crowded class, but the 3 Series is one of the best.

BMW practically invented the compact luxury car decades ago, and today's 3 Series advances that heritage. It's the best-selling car in its class, and for good reason. Few can match its artful blend of performance and refinement, though that doesn't stop them from trying. In either sedan or wagon style, the 3 Series makes few compromises. It's simultaneously comfortable and sporty, compact without being confining, and its engines are fuel-efficient and powerful. It's a truly fantastic all-rounder with no significant flaws.



what's new

For 2017, a new four-cylinder engine in midlevel 3 Series models results in a name change (last year's 328i is now the 330i) and a slight power bump. The M Sport package is now standard on 340i models, although the Sport or Luxury package can be substituted at no additional cost. Wireless device charging and Apple CarPlay integration are new stand-alone options, and the 3 Series' iDrive infotainment interface is upgraded to the latest version.

we recommend

If cost is no obstacle, we'd take a 340i with the Technology package. It's got a dreamy smooth six-cylinder engine, an elegant, advanced infotainment system and, for good measure, a wonderful sound system. That said, the 330i packs good punch from its turbo four-cylinder and delivers many desirable features when equipped with the Tech and/or Premium bundles. If driver aids and safety are a top priority, also check the boxes for the Driver Assistance or Driver Assistance Plus packages.

trim levels & features

The 2017 BMW 3 Series is available in sedan and wagon body styles. (The 3 Series Gran Turismo hatchback is reviewed separately, as are coupe and convertible models collectively known as the BMW 4 Series.) Sedans come in 320i, 328d, 330i, 330e and 340i trim levels with standard rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive (called xDrive) is optional on all but the 330e plug-in hybrid. The wagon is available only in 330i xDrive and 328d xDrive trims. The 320i is the cheapest way into a 3 Series, but it lacks many standard and optional creature comforts. Best to start at the 330i.

The 320i starts with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (180 horsepower, 200 pound-feet of torque) and a choice of a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission. Standard feature highlights include 17-inch wheels, remote locking and unlocking, push-button start, automatic wipers, dual-zone automatic climate control, premium vinyl upholstery, BMW Assist emergency telematics, Bluetooth connectivity, the iDrive infotainment interface, a 6.5-inch display and a nine-speaker sound system.

The 330i has a more powerful 2.0-liter engine (248 hp, 258 lb-ft of torque) as well as power-adjustable front sport seats, power-folding and heated side mirrors, auto-dimming mirrors, paddle shifters for automatic transmission-equipped models, driver-seat memory functions and split-folding rear seatbacks.

The 328d and 330e sedans come similarly equipped. Both also use a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired only to the eight-speed automatic, but the 328d engine uses diesel fuel and generates 180 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. The 330e engine takes conventional gasoline but is augmented by an electric motor for a combined 248 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque.

The 328d and 330i wagons are equipped like the sedans and also come with a panoramic sunroof, roof rails, a power liftgate and the eight-speed automatic transmission.

Finally, the 340i sedan has a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine (320 hp and 330 lb-ft), the contents of the Premium package (see below), LED headlights, keyless entry and ignition, a sunroof and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system (optional on most other models). The M Sport package (see below) is also standard, but its contents can be replaced by those from the Sport or Luxury packages.

There are several option packages for the 2017 3 Series. In our opinion, the main ones to look out for are Premium and Technology as they further equip the 3 Series with a host of desirable convenience and tech-oriented extras. Other popular picks include the Track Handling package (improves handling) and the two Driver Assistance packages that add many advanced driver safety aids.

trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 BMW 328i xDrive sedan (2.0L 4-cyl. turbo; AWD; 8-speed automatic). NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the 328i has received some revisions, chief among them a new name (now 330i) and a boost of 8 horsepower and 3 pound-feet of torque. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's 330i.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.5 / 5.0

Driving

5.0 / 5.0

Acceleration4.0 / 5.0
Braking5.0 / 5.0
Steering4.5 / 5.0
Handling4.5 / 5.0
Drivability5.0 / 5.0

Comfort

5.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort5.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort5.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration4.5 / 5.0
Climate control4.5 / 5.0

Interior

4.5 / 5.0

Ease of use4.5 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out4.0 / 5.0
Driving position5.0 / 5.0
Roominess4.0 / 5.0
Visibility4.5 / 5.0
Quality5.0 / 5.0

Utility

4.5 / 5.0

Small-item storage3.5 / 5.0
Cargo space3.5 / 5.0

Technology

4.5 / 5.0

Audio & navigation5.0 / 5.0
Smartphone integration4.0 / 5.0
Driver aids4.5 / 5.0
Voice control3.5 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
The 2017 BMW 3 Series' turbocharged engines are typically overachievers, and the eight-speed automatic is always on point with exquisitely curated shifts. Handling is excellent despite generous suspension travel to improve ride comfort. A great performer.

acceleration

edmunds rating
Other than the 320i, which is expectedly slow given its 180 hp, acceleration is strong. We've tested a bunch of 3 Series models, and all have impressed. In our tests, a 340i xDrive sprinted from zero to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds. Expect the 330i to take about 5.5 seconds.

braking

edmunds rating
The brake pedal has no bite to speak of, and that's a compliment. It's progressive and never abrupt. In panic stops from 60 mph, a 328i xDrive needed just 113 feet to halt, despite wearing less grippy all-season tires. A 340i xDrive was at 118 feet. Either way, it's outstanding.

steering

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The current 3 Series' steering feels more synthetic than past iterations, but it's still a job well done. Words like "telepathic" may no longer apply, but there's gratifying responsiveness and accuracy.

handling

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The supple ride attests to BMW's focus on luxury, but a true sport sedan lies beneath. The harder you push a 3 Series, the better it feels. The optional M Sport lowered suspension increases athleticism without a stiffer ride penalty. Retains a sense of refined performance that sets it apart.

drivability

edmunds rating
Always-on turbo torque means great flexibility in daily driving; there's no need to downshift if you want some oomph. The transmission is expertly programmed, always shifting with grace and precision. The auto stop-start system stays off if you turn it off.

comfort

edmunds rating
BMW has made comfort a top priority lately, and the 3 Series is a case in point. From its absorbent ride to its remarkably quiet interior at highway speeds, it meets luxury buyers' expectations across the board. You needn't care about sportiness to enjoy this car.

seat comfort

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The front seats find a nice middle ground between plushness and snug support. The side bolsters are modestly sized but should suffice for most. There's an ample range of adjustments. The armrests are nicely placed and padded.

ride comfort

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The 3 Series has a lot of suspension travel for a performance car, giving it very good shock-absorption capability. Older 3 Series tended to ride firmly, but this one has true luxury-grade compliance yet still feels sporty.

noise & vibration

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BMW now pipes in a pleasant, throaty synthetic soundtrack through the speakers that you'd never guess was fake. It's quiet while cruising, however, as is the cabin in general, impressively so.

climate control

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You'll have to spend a little bit of time familiarizing yourself with the climate control buttons, but overall it works very well. The ability to vary the upper air vent temperature independent of the floor vents remains a BMW hallmark. Ventilated seats aren't available on the 3 Series, though.

interior

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The 3 Series interior offers an attractive yet restrained design and a sensible control layout with familiar BMW ergonomics. The rear passenger space is better than ever but may yet leave a bit to be desired. Small item storage is hard to come by. Still, a strong effort overall.

ease of use

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Most buttons and stalks are well-placed. The cruise control buttons on the wheel are particularly intuitive. The iDrive controller is complex, but there's a logic to it that becomes second nature. The Tech package includes a wider and better 8.8-inch screen.

getting in/getting out

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The short doors facilitate access in tight spaces. You can't fall down into this sport sedan as you would into a sports car; seat height is where it should be. The front seatbacks can impede rear access a bit if taller folks are up front.

driving position

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The driver seat offers a lot of adjustment range in the up-down and fore-aft directions, and the telescoping steering wheel pulls back far enough for even the tallest of drivers. Once situated, the mirrors, gauges and controls all feel close at hand.

roominess

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The front seats have abundant head- and legroom. The backseat legroom is generous, too, and even our 6-foot-2-inch tester had enough headroom back there. But backseat elbow and shoulder room do feel tight on the door side.

visibility

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Visibility is excellent all around, thanks to reasonably thin pillars and plenty of glass. We applaud BMW for maintaining these traits over time. But a rearview camera and parking sensors should be standard at this price, not optional.

quality

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Quality materials abound, including real metal inlays on the dashboard and the center console. The sun visors feel flimsy, though, and do not slide for extended side-window coverage. Buttons, knobs and levers feel solid and precise.

utility

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The wagon offers max versatility with 53 cubic feet of cargo capacity. The sedan gets handy 40/20/40-split folding rear seats, except for 320i, which offers them as optional. Multiple bike, board, boat racks and carriers are available from BMW Accessories.

small-item storage

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The 3 Series continues to suffer from a shortage of bins or cubbies for phones and other small items. All four doors have decent-sized pockets, though, and there are two front and two rear cupholders.

cargo space

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The trunk measures an above-average 13 cubic feet, and rear seatbacks fold forward via trunk-mounted levers. The wagon offers 53 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.

child safety seat accomodation

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Any of the three rear seat positions can be used. Removable plastic covers provide easy access to the lower LATCH anchors, and the three top tether mounts are very easy to get at via covers that hinge upward. There's enough room to fit a rear-facing safety seat without much trouble.

technology

edmunds rating
The standard 6.5-inch iDrive display is adequate, but the 8.8-inch screen is the true luxury touch. The iDrive system is easy to use with straightforward menus, crisp graphics and quick processing. The controller touchpad can be used to handwrite inputs using your finger.

audio & navigation

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The standard audio system is nice; the optional 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround system is even better. This latest iteration of BMW's iDrive is well sorted, with a main touchpad control knob surrounded by a simple button array.

smartphone integration

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BMW Apps offers connectivity for select smartphone apps but comes optional with the Technology package. Apple CarPlay is a stand-alone option. There's no Android Auto integration yet.

driver aids

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A full suite of driver aids, including a rearview camera, parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, is available. They work well, but you've got to pay for them.

voice control

edmunds rating
Voice controls seem clunky and hard to work, but a longer press and hold breaks through to our paired smartphone's Siri voice command structure, which is excellent. It's nice to have this feature because smartphone operating systems do this better.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.