2017 BMW i3
- Expanded driving range meet most daily needs
- Strong yet lightweight chassis makes it quick and nimble
- Attractive and well-crafted interior has a unique architectural style
- Commanding driving position is highly adjustable
- Cargo area isn't large, and has a high load floor
- Range extender is not intended for cross-country travel
- Reverse-hinged rear doors not ideal for passengers in parking lots
Which i3 does Edmunds recommend?
Edmunds' Expert Review
Overall rating4.5 / 5
We were fans of the BMW i3 when it came out because of its nimble handling, eager acceleration and distinctive interior styling. That's all present in the 2017 BMW i3, but now it has a bigger battery for improved all-electric range. If you're looking for a premium yet practical EV, the i3 is your car.
Most would rightly conclude that the BMW i3 is some kind of eco-car when gazing at its unconventional styling. But there's more to this electric vehicle than skinny tires and compact dimensions.
In designing the i3 to be a dedicated electric vehicle at the outset, BMW went to great lengths to maximize the potential of the car's electric motor and battery pack. And so it is a featherweight car whose body shell is made entirely of carbon fiber, a racing-derived material that is stronger than steel yet lighter than aluminum. The result is spirited acceleration, more range for a given size of battery and an uncommonly low center of mass that fosters the i3's nimble handling.
The optional Range Extender's gasoline engine generates electricity once the battery runs low, but please don't compare this to a Chevrolet Volt. BMW is aiming for a higher electric vehicle classification than the Volt, so its tiny 0.6-liter two-cylinder engine and 2.5-gallon gas tank are intentionally insufficient for interstate travel.
Trim levels & features
The 2017 BMW i3 is a four-door hatchback with seating for four passengers. The case for the i3 is even stronger this year because of the introduction of a larger battery that significantly extends its electric driving range. Two of this year's three trim levels have that bigger battery, namely the base and Range Extender versions. But the enlarged battery does cost more, so last year's smaller one is still available in the new 60 Ah version ("60 Ah" refers to the amp-hour capability of the battery).
Compared to last year's base i3, the only thing different about the 60 Ah model is the name. Apart from that it is a pure carryover model with the same 170-horsepower electric motor that drives the rear wheels. It's fed by a 22-kilowatt-hour battery that provides enough power for an estimated 81 miles of range. As before, it comes well equipped with 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, rear parking sensors and Level 3 DC fast-charging capability. Inside, it retains the Mega World imitation-leather and cloth upholstery, and it comes with automatic climate control, heated front seats, Bluetooth, FM, HD and satellite radio, and BMW's basic Business navigation system with a modest 6.5-inch display screen.
Paradoxically, the base i3 is the next rung up the ladder, owing to the extra cost associated with its larger 33-kWh battery (which provides 114 miles of estimated range). The only visible external clues are its upgraded wheels and tires, which are also wider in back. You get keyless ignition and entry with this version, but interior upholstery is cloth (Deka World), with the 60 Ah trim's Mega World imitation-leather interior available as an upgrade. The otherwise-identical basic navigation system is bolstered with enhanced real-time traffic data.
The only difference between the base and the Range Extender is, quite simply, the range-extending 0.6-liter two-cylinder gasoline generator, which is the same as last year. Because the Range Extender is heavier, it travels an estimated 97 miles on electricity. An incremental increase in fuel capacity this year — 2.4 gallons instead of 1.9 gallons — enables a combined range of 180 miles of driving range.
All models can be equipped with the Technology + Driving Assistant package (advanced navigation with a widescreen display and advanced local search, all-speed adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking) or the Parking Assistant package (rearview camera, added front parking sensors, automated parking). In addition to the interiors already mentioned, any can be equipped with leather and wool or full-leather upholstery. You can also add 20-inch wheels, a premium stereo upgrade or a new power glass sunroof, the latter being the only option you can't add to the 60 Ah version.
NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current BMW i3 has received some revisions, including more standard equipment (seat heaters, DC fast charging and automatic wipers). The most significant change is the new larger battery that improves the all-electric i3's range to 114 miles, a 33-mile boost. Our Range Extender test car could go 72 miles on electricity and 150 miles total; a similar 2017 example goes 97 miles on electricity and 180 miles total. But our findings still remain broadly applicable to this year's BMW i3.
Noise & vibration3.5
Ease of use4
Getting in/getting out3
Child safety seat accommodation4
Audio & navigation4
Features & Specs
Our experts’ favorite i3 safety features:
- Active Driving Assistant
- Reduces the likelihood and severity of a front collision by issuing a warning before intervening with automatic emergency braking.
- Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go
- Manages the gap to the car ahead, even down to a standstill in routine stop-and-go traffic; alerts driver in sudden slowdown situations.
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System
- Warns driver of insufficient tire pressure well before a slow unnoticed leak can lead to a blowout-caused roadside stranding or accident.
2017 BMW i3 for Sale
Sharp handling, rapid acceleration and unique interior styling have made us fans of the BMW i3 since its debut. For 2017, the i3 gets an optional larger battery that extends its range and makes this eco-commuter an even more compelling purchase.
The i3 was built from the ground up as an electric vehicle, freeing its stylists from the need to make room for a bulky gasoline engine and fuel tank. Instead, the i3 was shaped around its battery and a compact electric motor, giving it a unique profile. BMW wanted to make the car as light as possible and manufactures the body shell entirely of carbon fiber, a material stronger than steel yet lighter than aluminum.
We like the i3's unconventional interior. The controls are laid out in an intuitive fashion, and the driving position is excellent. The backseat is roomier than you might expect, though entry is a two-step process because you must first open the front doors before the rear-hinged back doors. The trunk is rather small at 11.2 cubic feet, and because the drive motor and optional range extender are placed under the trunk floor, the loading height is rather high.
All i3s are powered by a 170-horsepower electric motor that drives the rear wheels. For 2017, the base i3 offers a new battery with a 114-mile range. Last year's battery, a 60-Ah (amp-hour) model offering 81 miles of range, is also still available. It's also slightly cheaper and offers simulated leather upholstery, compared to the cloth seating in the base model with the newer battery.
BMW also offers a Range Extender trim level, which has a tiny 0.6-liter two-cylinder gasoline engine fed by a 2.5-gallon fuel tank. When the battery runs low, the engine generates power to extend the i3's total range to 180 miles. Unlike the Chevrolet Volt, which can run at full speed and to its full range under gasoline power, the i3 has an engine that is really just a get-you-home measure. By design, it's insufficient for interstate travel.
The i3's performance is surprisingly good. We've timed it from zero to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, which is very quick for an electric car. The range extender adds 265 pounds of weight, but it has a minimal impact on performance; the i3 with the range extender gets up to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds. The super-skinny front tires might cast doubt on the i3's handling prowess, but with a low center of gravity and perfect 50-50 weight balance, the i3 is a very entertaining BMW. The short wheelbase makes for great maneuverability, but the steering feels jumpy and sensitive on the highway.
The i3 is offered in 60-Ah, base and Range Extender models, all distinguished by battery size and range. There are options, but it's a modest list by BMW standards. Use Edmunds' incomparable shopping tools to help you find the perfect BMW i3.
2017 BMW i3 Overview
The 2017 BMW i3 is offered in the following submodels: . Available styles include 4dr Hatchback (electric DD), w/Range Extender 4dr Hatchback (electric DD), and 60 Ah 4dr Hatchback (electric DD).
What do people think of the 2017 BMW i3?
Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2017 BMW i3 and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2017 i3 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2017 i3.
Edmunds Expert Reviews
Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2017 BMW i3 and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2017 i3 featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our 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.
Which 2017 BMW i3s are available in my area?
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Should I lease or buy a 2017 BMW i3?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.