2014 BMW i3 Review
Edmunds' Expert Review
- Roomy four-person cabin
- quick acceleration and strong brakes
- nimble handling
- excellent visibility
- well-made and stylish interior
- versatile cargo area for an EV
- optional gas-powered range extender.
- Pricier than most entry-level EVs
- rear-hinged rear doors aren't so great if you frequently carry rear passengers.
Most helpful consumer reviews
4dr Hatchback (electric DD)
I have driven BMWs for 10+ years and this all-electric BMW lives up to the ultimate driving machine claim. It is sporty and solid and handles the road like my 328i. It is filled with high technology with a large screen for nav, music, apps, and information. The construction is solid and the carbon fiber and all-aluminum construction makes the car safe and rust-free. Bodywork is actually less costly than a steel car. This is not for long trips as the practical range in temperate weather is 80-90 miles. But get the DC fast charge option as that has helped me go 300+ miles at times.
4dr Hatchback w/Range Extender (electric DD)
I was looking for a stylish EV that was fun to drive, reliable, and had looks I appreciated. I had read numerous reviews on the i3, had seem them on the streets, and had more than once concluded it was not the car for me. However, when we had arrived at the BMW dealership to test-drive a 2014 3-series diesel wagon (I was getting desperate), there was my car for sale, beckoning my wife and I. Now, my wife knew my checklist, and after asking our questions and taking it for a test drive, she was convinced this was my car. I had my reservations, as I commute around 30 miles to work, and am usually driving an additional 30-50 miles for business meetings each day. Given that this car is rear-wheel drive with no AWD, I had concerns about the snow. Additionally, the list price of the car was a lot higher than Edmunds' TMV and Cars.com's average recent sold price for these vehicles. Lastly, the i Remote app for this car had just horrible reviews. On the positive side, my car had just over 19k miles, includes the Giga and technology packages, was certified pre-owned, and in fantastic condition with no visible wear and tear. After 2 months with it, having driven over 3k miles in snow, rain, freezing cold and 90+ degree heat, I was loving the car. I drive very conservatively, making full use of the one-pedal driving (which had a quick learning curve) and never going above 68 mph on the highway. I typically do a mix of highway with twisty backroads. However, with all the mileage I drive, I hardly use the range extender. Most of my meetings are in Boston, and I can usually find a garage with an available charging station. When I have to fill up on gas (that sounds so odd to type), it was always a 2-second fill, staying under $3 per fill. This car feels incredibly solid to drive - like you're in a tank, it just feels so heavy - yet it is very nimble. The steering is precise and tight. Handling on the curves is fun, but the car feels unstable if you really push it. Surprisingly, without the snow tires, it handles pretty well on snow-covered roads - it even got me out of my uphill driveway without any slippage. You just feel more connected to the road with the i3. Being bottom-heavy and somewhat tall, it can easily be affected by strong winds on the highway. Yes, this is an odd looking car. In my opinion, it looks best from any profile view, and just plain odd from a direct front or back view. The inside is beautifully designed, spacious, and posh. For utility, the overall storage space is not much, but I am able to make my transfer station trips with a full-size plastic garbage can and several square container bins of recycling. As for the i Remote app, it has had its share of bugs, but otherwise works like a charm (I even gave it a glowing review in the App Store). After driving 14k+ miles on this car, and now having owned it for going on 10 months through all New England seasons, do I still believe in the i3? Yes, yes I do. Since my first review of the vehicle here on Edmunds, I have had new revelations about it. First and foremost, the car's battery does not like cold temperatures, and thus I am suffering from the obligatory 'range anxiety.' I have seen a significant drop in mile range on a full battery charge. Where I was averaging between 80 to 90 miles per full charge during the summer, I am now getting between 60 to 70 miles, if that. My maximum distance driven on a full charge is exactly 100 miles, which I achieved during the summer with a mix of highway and city driving using A/C sporadically. Currently, with these cold temperatures in the teens and 20s, it is difficult to get even 60 miles on a full charge. I recently drove a 2017 BMW i3 with range extender in 25 to 35 degree temperatures (Fahrenheit), and observed that its battery is impervious to the cold, on top of its larger mile range. Of course, now I desire a 2017 i3. Secondly, my i3 handles fantastically in the snow with its Blizzak snow tires. I have complete confidence in taking my car out into a snowstorm, having already tested it driving through snowy road conditions on the windy, hilly backroads of southern New Hampshire. Thirdly, my i3's factory speaker system sounds loud and crisp using the radio, but when utilizing its USB or bluetooth capabilities with my iPhone, the auditory volume drops dramatically, thus forcing me to crank up the car's volume control. Lastly, the sun visors are simply too small and are terrible at blocking out the sun through the windshield and door window. In conclusion, I am quite happy with my car, despite its low range in the winter, and happy to have the range extender as a backup. I have had no issues with it otherwise (i.e. nothing has needed repair). My only other concern about it is its depreciation, and hope that the vehicle is not obsolete when it is time to trade it in.
4dr Hatchback (electric DD)
I have the base model without range extender, but this is my commuter car around the city with chargers on each end. It's not practical for a weekend trip outside the range unless you plan your travels in stages with 2+ hours in between for recharging, but I love this car for commuting to and from work (32 miles each way). It's a funky, awesome exterior and the interior build quality is eco-luxury. I love the carbon fiber details and the eco-leather on the seats. The accent lighting makes me feel like I'm driving a spaceship. Also I love how BMW is really into the electric car movement by creating new manufacturing and technology to build them. It's not just a compliance car here!!!
4dr Hatchback w/Range Extender (electric DD)
The electric I3 is at heart a great BMW car. It is fun to drive, roomy, handles well, and is quite stylish. The range is ok as long as you have a second gas powered car for trips because you're not taking this one anywhere out of town. The range is ok but you learn to change your operating style to maintain the charged batteries where you feel comfortable, for me I don't let it go below about 30% even with the REX. For an urban car its great for anywhere else, I'd think twice. I have had my car for nearly 1/2 year and generally like the car...would I buy another one? Maybe. Here's the rub: The technology is good but not great, the BMW i app that goes with the car is unimpressive; the ratings on the app store are surprisingly bad. It only has a few features that matter and those are pretty predictable. I'm really unimpressed with the integration with smart phone, I expected a lot more on an electric car (see TESLA). One would think, BMW Engineering would do a better job with an app on an all electric car. As to reliability: first, I had software problems with the entertainment system, the XM radio suddenly went dead. The car spent almost 10 days in the dealership while they tried to figure it out finally replacing just about everything...not good. Secondly the tires, this is the second set of Bridgestone's I've had problems with on a BMW. My first were the Bridgestone run flats on a previous late model M3, on that car I replaced 8 tires in 2.5 years for simple punctures. So far the i3 seems on track to beat that record. In 6 months I've already replaced 2 tires for simple punctures. (i3 has no spare) and the i3 are not run flat so the problem gets a whole lot worse. One would have thought that with no spare and no run flat, BMW would have required a highly reliable tire from Bridgestone...they didn't. So overall, a qualified recommend...urban car only, electronics and tire problems, weak mobile app but fun to drive, adequate range and peppy.