2018 BMW 3 Series Review
2018 BMW 3 Series Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
Dan spent many years covering the go-fast, look-good, get-loud corners of the automotive universe. First, he served as editor of enthusiast magazines AutoSound and Honda Tuning, then as executive editor at SEMA News, the publishing arm of the trade group that produces the annual SEMA Show (yes, that show). As a contributor to Edmunds, he now likes to keep the volume low and the speed limit legal, providing expert car-shopping advice to drivers looking for the perfect match.
- Balances sharp handling with a ride quality that won't beat you up
- Engine choices offer power, smoothness and fuel efficiency
- Interior is upscale and spacious, with logical, easy-to-use controls
- Base 320i model offers limited feature availability
- Storage for small personal items is limited
For 2018, BMW made minor adjustments to the 3 Series' feature availability and option packages.
The 2018 BMW 3 Series should make the short list for shoppers seeking a compact luxury sport sedan. Whether enjoying its blend of features and refinement or pushing its smooth power and sharp handling to the limit, you'll be impressed.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2018 BMW 3 Series 320i 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 8A) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.93 per gallon for premium unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$170/mo for 3 Series 320i
3 Series 320i
Avg. Midsize Car
Today's 3 Series advances the heritage that BMW established decades ago when it practically invented the compact luxury car. The 3 Series is 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 other automakers from trying.
In either sedan or wagon style, the 3 Series makes few compromises. It's a truly fantastic all-rounder with no significant flaws — it's simultaneously comfortable and sporty, small without being confining, and offers fuel-efficient and powerful engines. There's a 3 Series for seemingly every flavor. Fuel economy a priority? The diesel-powered 3 Series achieves 36 mpg combined. Need maximum cargo space? The 3 Series wagon offers 53 cubic feet of room. Just want to test the waters of BMW ownership? The base model 320i, while sparsely equipped for a luxury sedan, offers the model's hallmark balance and performance for a reasonable price.
It's true that the current generation of the 3 Series is getting a bit dated, and newer rivals might hold an advantage in stylistic appeal. Overall, though, the 3 Series is still one of the best.
Notably, we picked the 2018 BMW 3 Series as one of Edmunds' Best All-Wheel-Drive Sedans for 2018.
Edmunds' Expert Rating8.2 / 10
The 2018 BMW 3 Series should make the short list for shoppers seeking a small luxury sedan. Whether enjoying its blend of features and refinement or pushing its smooth power and sharp handling to the limit, you'll be impressed. While the 3 Series is getting a bit dated, it's still one of the best.
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 turbo inline-4 | 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. A rearview camera also now comes on every 3 Series. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's 330i.
|Overall||8.2 / 10|
The BMW 3 Series's 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 & vibration8.5
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.
You'll have to spend a little bit of time familiarizing yourself with the climate control buttons, but overall the system works very well. The ability to vary the upper air vent temperature independent of the floor vents remains a BMW hallmark. But ventilated seats aren't available on the 3 Series.
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 still leave a bit to be desired. Small-item storage is hard to come by. Still a strong effort overall.
Ease of use8.5
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 out8.0
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.
The driver's 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.
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. But backseat elbow and shoulder room do feel tight on the door side.
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. (Note: A rearview camera now comes with the 2018 3 Series.)
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.
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.
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.
The trunk measures an above-average 13 cubic feet, and the rear seatbacks fold forward via trunk-mounted levers. The wagon offers 53 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.
Child safety seat accommodation
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.
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
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.
Apple CarPlay is a stand-alone option. There's no Android Auto integration yet. Wireless charging is available, but only as a stand-alone option that first requires purchasing the Premium package (which also adds a Wi-Fi hotspot and enhanced Bluetooth).
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 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.
Which 3 Series does Edmunds recommend?
The 330i packs good punch from its turbo four-cylinder engine and delivers many desirable features when also equipped with the Premium, Executive or M Sport bundles. If driver aids and safety are a priority, the Driving Assistance package is a worthy addition.
2018 BMW 3 Series models
The 2018 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 most affordable way into a 3 Series, but it lacks many standard and optional creature comforts. It 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 LED headlights, power-adjustable front sport seats, power-folding and heated side mirrors, auto-dimming mirrors, paddle shifters for automatic transmission-equipped models, driver-seat memory settings and split-folding rear seatbacks.
The 328d and 330e sedans come similarly equipped. Both 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), 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 package.
There are several option packages for the 2018 3 Series. In our opinion, the main ones to look out for are the Premium and the Executive since they further equip the 3 Series with a host of desirable convenience and tech-oriented extras. The Premium package, for example, adds heated front seats, a head-up display, a navigation system, a 8.5-inch display screen and BMW's Remote Services (can lock and unlock doors or find car in a parking lot via smartphone app). The Executive package adds adaptive LED headlights, side- and top-view parking cameras, and upgraded leather upholstery.
Other popular picks include the Track Handling package (improves handling and steering) and the Driving Assistance package that adds many advanced driver safety aids.
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
1 out of 5 stars
Car got on fire. Very disappointed!
Armen O., 01/04/2021
2018 BMW 3 Series 330i 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 8A)
In December of 2017, we had leased a brand new 2018 BMW 330i from Rusnak BMW in Thousand Oaks, CA. All regular maintenance services were included in our lease deal. Therefore, all necessary services were performed at an authorized BWM dealer when it was due. On July 12, 2020, around 11:15 p.m., while my son was driving home, the car got on fire with no apparent reason. The entire front … of the car was charred! Fire Department was called immediately and they put out the fire. Fire Department report shows that cause of ignition is “Failure of equipment or heat source”. Luckily, my son noticed the flame right away and left the car on the side of the road. If this incident would have happened on the freeway, my son’s life could have been jeopardized big time! Even though my insurance company paid the residual value of the car (less my deductable amount) to BMW financials, they still demanded to get paid my deductable amount immediately. They had their collection department call & harass us once every two weeks for this payment. Needless to say, we were furious and called Betsy Hohmann, the Executive Customer Care of BMW of North America in Westwood, NJ to explain our disappointment on our car fire and handling of issues we were confronting with their collection department. In order to find out the cause of fire, Betsy wanted to inspect the car which was held by my insurance company for 30 days only. Since Betsy’s group was unorganized and didn’t make an appointment on time to inspect the car, our BMW was sold by my insurance company. Considering that car wasn’t available for inspection anymore, Betsy offered to give us $3500 loyalty fee if we purchased a new BMW and pay off our insurance deductable in the amount of $2500 as well. Per Betsy's offer, we ended up purchasing a new BMW from an authorized dealer in San Antonio, Texas. Per Betsy’s request, the dealer and us, forwarded proof of purchase to Betsy so we can get paid and settle our differences. Unfortunately, Betsy wouldn’t accept our provided proof of purchase, regardless of what we and the dealer provided. She kept giving us excuse why our provided documents were not sufficient. After 4 months of communications and due to Betsy’s empty promises I filed a law suit against the BMW of North America and Rusank BMW to settle our differences in court. Within 10 days of my law suit filing, Betsy responded via email that she’ll issue a check in the amount of $6k . Unfortunately, due to my law suit, I finally got the check from Betsy after so many months of aggravation dealing with an extremely unprofessional way of handling a simple case which could have turned deadly and caused loss of my son’s life. Frankly, I’ve owned numerous BMWs for over 25 years and never confronted such a horrible ordeal like our BMW 330i. I will never buy another BMW for as long as Betsy Hohmann remains an Executive Customer Care of BMW North America. Shame on BMW of North America who hires employees like Betsy who give hell to their loyal customers like me!!!
5 out of 5 stars
Compact, solid and feels right
2018 BMW 3 Series 320i xDrive 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 8A)
Bought our 320i xdrive used with only 5K. At the price we purchased it at we feel it’s a steal. Handling is second to none and the AWD system maintains traction in all conditions. Solid chassis with a balanced ride. Very quiet interior with plenty of sound deadening materials. Audio quality is excellent and the ambient lighting package is a nice touch. Standard LED headlights are bright … as heck. With the pass through option, our trunk cargo space opens up tremendously. Maintenance is going to be more expensive than your average Civic so one needs to be mindful of that. Power is adequate and borders on sporty in sport-mode. But you won’t win any drag races against a Subaru WRX or Tesla Model 3. Seating position is a bit low for my taste but that’s a small gripe. No spare tire is also a negative. The sensatec leatherette used for the seating surfaces seems durable and not too plasticky. Overall a great buy if you can snag a pre-owned one with low mileage. Would I pay $42K for this car new (MSRP with options)? Probably not. But as a used vehicle, the value is really great.
4 out of 5 stars
Wonderful in summer, less so in winter
2018 BMW 3 Series 340i xDrive 4dr Sedan AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 8A)
Update after three years - In my 40-odd years of driving I think this must be one of the best cars for summer driving I have ever come across. The 340i xDrive is stink fast (I have the speeding tickets to prove it) and handles gorgeously. If you want a city driver for day to day errands it will happily burble along. If you want to floor it, the car will go like a rocket ship. But the … challenge is, it’s pretty light, and that doesn’t really work in a place with plenty of snow. It is also low off the ground which means you can get stuck in drifts. So very reluctantly I will be handing it back when the lease runs out so I can look for something bigger. This is a gorgeous car, an amazing vehicle to drive; the engine growl is throughly addictive and I sometimes drive around slowly with the windows down just to listen to the noise, a big smile plastered on my face. The 340i takes off like a rocket ship and yet is also perfectly suited for longer distance drives. The seats are the most comfortable of any BMW I've driven (this is my family's fifth) and the new version of the iDrive is intuitive and quick. I sprang for the upgraded Harman and Kardon sound system and can report the quality is superb. My one reservation is the braking system, which sadly is not great. I did not spring for the upgraded brakes and that in hindsight was a mistake, since if you're trying to slow down quickly it can be a battle.
5 out of 5 stars
Still a Terrific Family Cruiser
Sheldon B., 05/01/2018
2018 BMW 3 Series 330i xDrive 4dr Wagon AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 8A)
Thinking of getting an CUV? This is a more satisfying alternative for anyone who enjoys driving. The M Sport version is quick, and the the steering & suspension can be adjusted to "just right" firm in sport mode. Plenty of room and fantastic on the open road. It was a great choice for our family, and capable of taking all four of us and all of our week-long luggage (and food) up to and … all around the mountains.
2018 3 Series Highlights
|Combined MPG||28 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$170/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||rear wheel drive|
|Warranty||4 years / 50,000 miles|
Our experts like the 3 Series models:
- Driving Assistance Package
- This camera-based system combines lane departure warning, forward collision warning, autonomous braking and pedestrian detection.
- Active Blind-Spot Detection
- Alerts you with in-mirror lights when a vehicle is in a blind spot, followed by steering wheel vibration if you attempt to change lanes.
- Side and Top View Camera
- Offers a top-down, 360-degree view of the car and surroundings to monitor approaching traffic and maneuver in tight spaces.
NHTSA Overall Rating5 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall4 / 5Driver4 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover5 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover9.5%
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestMarginal
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalGood
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood