2018 BMW i3 Review
Pros & Cons
- Quick and nimble due to lightweight chassis
- Well-crafted, contemporary interior has a distinctive style
- Available range-extender model
- Less range than its primary rivals
- Reverse-hinged rear doors are suboptimal in parking lots
- Cargo area isn't large and has a high load floor
List Price Range
$19,999 - $27,000
Used i3 for SaleSee all for sale
Which i3 does Edmunds recommend?
While we prefer the sharper handling and acceleration of the i3s, our recommendation is to stick with the base i3 for its lower price and incrementally higher range. Take the money you save and apply it to getting the Technology + Driving Assistant package and Apple CarPlay option. You'll have a far more capable infotainment system and still come out ahead. The Range Extender might appeal to increase your peace of mind, but it adds substantial weight and cost to the bottom line.
Edmunds' Expert Review
The BMW i3 is a surprisingly good all-around performer. The new car gains about 122 pounds, but it doesn't upset the finely balanced handling and responsive steering. With the larger battery, the i3 is a touch slower to 60 mph, but braking has improved from an already impressive precedent.
The i3 has surprisingly comfortable seats, and the ride exhibits a level of polish you might not expect from such a small car. The basic climate system works well and is easy to use. The cabin is remarkably quiet until the battery runs down to zero and the two-cylinder gas generator kicks on.
The i3's functional and friendly cabin is an inviting place to spend your commute, and a very space-efficient one to boot. It packs a lot of no-nonsense practicality but also oodles of style and innovative design.
There's plentiful storage in the cabin, but the 15.1-cubic-foot trunk is small and a bit high due to the motor under the floor. Rear-hinged doors are mostly a boon to attending to kids in car seats; they're especially good for forward-facing seats but less ideal for some bulkier rear-facing ones.
BMW's iDrive infotainment system has been updated for 2018, yet the outgoing system isn't shabby in terms of ease of use and options for redundant controls. The new iDrive system offers Apple CarPlay, too.
|Overall||8.4 / 10|
Most helpful consumer reviews
Matt from Maine,10/01/2019
w/Range Extender 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)
We have had short-lease ownership of both a 2017 and a 2018 model, They are virtually identical, with the main difference being that the 2017 did not have the backup camera. From 2018 on, all i3's now have the integrated camera, and it is a good one. Now that the lease is up on the 2017 model, we got a nice promotional offer from a New England dealer, and took them up on it. So, we will now have a 2019 model, with the larger battery pack. Obviously we enjoy the car. It is particularly fun and zippy around town. Highway driving is okay, but sketchy on days when there is a strong crosswind. This car is not for everybody, of course. But none of our routine drives are more than 75 miles, and we have a level 2 charger in our garage at home. As an experiment, I once drove round-trip 650 miles in one day, to visit my daughter at college, using frequent gas fillups. This is not ideal, but it is possible, if you don't want to find chargers. Try driving a Chevy Bolt or Nissan Leaf 650 miles in 13 hours. People get hung up on the list price of the car. As if that is what you really have to pay. The pundits don't seem to grasp that virtually nobody BUYS a new i3. The lease deals are too attractive. With some effort, you can lease one for less than $300 per month. Particularly if you are buying at the end of the model year. You have the option of "buying out" the car at the end of the lease, but I suspect that nobody does that, either, because the pre-determined 'residual value' is set at an artificially high level, in order to decrease the monthly lease payments. These are fun cars. But because they are so fun to drive, the tires will wear out. if that bothers you, stay away from this car. It is a very odd tire size, and no other car on the planet uses that size. As a consequence, there is only one company that manufactures that tire size for all-season tires. (there are two other companies that make winter tires for the i3, but only in the 19" rim size). At first, when I realized I might have to buy new tires on the 2017 that I turned in, with about 18000 miles, I was a tad upset. But then I realized that it is a high-performance car, and the rear-wheel drive dynamics do put a lot of stress on the rear tires. In the end, the dealer who accepted the car at the end of the lease commented on the worn rear tires, but let it pass, ultimately. And I am okay with buying new tires, if I have to. And I will be putting on Nokain R3 winter tires on my 2018 this winter, both for winter safety, but also to save the tread on the summer tires. Again if you hate buying tires, and you want to own this car, then drive gently, corner reasonably, and avoid jack-rabbit starts. Hard things for me to do. If you test drive this car, you will want one. I have now "test driven" over 20K miles, and I am sold. It is an electric car 98% of the time. But it has neutralized range anxiety with the backup gasoline power. I rarely use gas, but it's nice to know that I can. That beats a Chevy Bolt or a Nissan Leaf, as far as I'm concerned. And it comes pretty close to beating a Tesla, from range-anxiety point of view. ======================================= I do live in an area with a handful of available high-amperage DC chargers. These will fully charge a depleted battery in about 40 minutes. But most owners charge at home, or at work, if they are lucky enough to have an enlightened employer. ======================================== Buying a used i3 REX is a totally valid option. They all have warranties out to 48 months, and the first 36 months includes free dealer service, including inspection stickers. So any car that you will find has been well maintained (though you will want to do your own due diligence on that). The gas engine requires an oil change about once a year, if it is used at all. The battery and electric powertrain should last ten years or more, without being touched. You just have to keep up with tires, wiper blades, and changing the hydraulic brake fluiid every couple of year. But if you are buying used, be aware of the battery size. The battery size has jumped every two years of production. And be sure to get a backup camera. You can tell if a used car has a backup camera in the dealer's photos, because the little fish-eye is in the middle of the bumper. And rumor has it that BMW will stop making these in a year or two. And it seems likely that they will not increase the battery size beyond what is is now (2019 and 2020 model years) It is a unique car, remarkably quiet inside, remarkably good ride, considering it is a small car. Remarkably tight turning radius. I can make a U-turn in places were no other car could possibly do it. Even if you never own one, you should make an effort to drive one. It is unique.
Chris - Las Vegas, NV,10/28/2018
s w/Range Extender 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)
Let me start out by saying this is our 2nd i3. We have a 2017 94ah fully loaded in all black. That vehicle is very nice but there were things about it that you don't really notice until you drive or own the 2018 i3s model. Don't get me wrong the 2017 model is great and we are very happy with it. The 18 i3s feels better at highway speeds, more planted in windy situations and the personality of the vehicle has changed, specifically in sport mode. Our 2018 is Protonic Blue (Last year of this color) with the 20' wheels and iBlue seat belts. It is a head turner and it really stands out on the road. With the lower ride height, 44 mm wider track, slightly wider tires and suspension tweaking it feels more like a BMW and less like an EV in the handling department. Off the line both are 17 and 18 are very quick, the i3s pulls harder in sport mode especially above 40 mph and is better in the corners. Our 2018 is also fully loaded and love the BMW stop and go cruise control, it is very effective and easy to use. In regards to charging the vehicle, we have a level II charger that we use between both vehicles and works great. The occasional use or basic charger that comes with the vehicle will work fine but earns you 5 miles per each hour charged, whereas a level II charger will get you 26 miles per each hour charged. I commute work 21 miles each way with a combination of expressway and city driving. The i3s is better on the expressway than the standard i3. Both of our i3's are leased and had MSRP's of $58,695. Our lease payments are effectively $302.00 per month w/no money down for 36 months. Please note that each state is different with state incentives in addition to any federal incentives and BMW loyalty or corporate programs. Items that I wish the i3 offered, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, Heated and Power Seats. Is this i3 and i3s a vehicle that I would recommend, absolutely yes. I think the engineering , build quality and green ethos truly set the vehicle apart. It may not have the longest range but you will have a top notch EV, that is unlike any other vehicle on the market.
4dr Hatchback (electric DD)
The BMW i3 has character, style, and class. It’s most certainly never boring. You’d think with its small stature that my 6’2” frame would feel cramped inside, but not so. This is true even in the back seat, which is easy to access via the suicide doors. Upon delivery there was a fit and finish issue that the dealer quickly corrected. (A wire got caught in front of the speaker in the door and was vibrating.) I also experienced a puncture in my flat tire at fewer than 200 miles. Thankfully the dealership went above and beyond and replaced it at no cost. As an added bonus for those who have range anxiety, BMW has provided two years of free charging at ChargePoint’s network of fast charging stations. (Most in my area seem to be found at Whole Foods Market.) My local dealership also has a program where you can drop off your i3 when you’re going on a longer trip and they’ll give you a loaner running on gasoline. I highly recommend getting the Technology & Driving Assistant Package. The updated iDrive display is definitely worth it, as the base display looks sad. The package also comes with convenient features like adaptive cruise control. Love this car and do not regret my purchase one iota.
w/Range Extender 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)
I've had my 2018 i3 Rex for a little over two months now. Others have pretty well covered the high quality of materials and how much fun the car is to drive. I'll comment more specifically on the REX engine. BMW is the ONLY electric car to include such a thing. Every other plug-in hybrid includes a full-size engine to drive the wheels when you're out of power. All that weight and complexity leaves very little room for a decent-sized battery. BMW built the i3 as an electric car first, and added the range extender for even more capability. I'm a sales rep in a medium-sized town, and typically am able to stay within my electric range. When I travel to neighboring towns, however, I almost always kick in the little REX engine on the highway, allowing me to save my electricity for city driving. This is an important point - in the United States, the car is programmed ("coded," in BMW-speak) so that the REX engine won't come on until you're down to your last few miles of electricity. It was designed, however, for you to be able turn on the REX engine at will below 75% charge, and works that way in Europe. It's easy to re-code it to the European specs (search You Tube) and turns it into a MUCH more useful car. I took my i3 on a 250-mile trip to a large city today, and although I had to stop about every hour to fill up the tiny gas tank, I was able to make the trip with ease and always had plenty of electricity to use when I needed it. In short, the range extender + recoding turns it into a REAL car if you want to use it that way. It has its shortcomings for long highway trips, but they are at least do-able if you want or need to.
Features & Specs
Our experts like the i3 models:
- 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.