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
Other years
List Price Range
$19,999 - $27,000

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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

Overall rating

8.4 / 10

The BMW i3 is probably one of the most innovative cars on the road today. That's true even though it's currently in its fifth model year. BMW pioneered the use of carbon fiber as the basis for the production car's structure to save weight. And it paid off: The i3 is quite lightweight for a battery-electric car, abetting its agile nature and quick acceleration. Other manufacturers still have a ways to go to catch up to BMW in this choice of material.

The i3's styling is polarizing; of that there is no doubt. But it looks like no other car on the road and has a cabin that is truly striking and upscale. It's functional, too, with a breezy, spacious feel and easy backseat access thanks to the rearward-hinged rear doors. These doors can turn into a bit of a hassle in tight parking lot quarters, however.

You've got a new choice for an i3 this year: the i3s. It boasts a more powerful electric motor, a sport-tuned suspension, and wider tires to improve performance and handling. BMW is still offering the Range Extender version, too, which has a tiny gasoline engine (and fuel tank) that serves as an electric generator. It gives you a little more range once the battery runs out of juice, but the main appeal is peace of mind.

From a logical standpoint, the 2018 BMW i3 doesn't fare all that great in relation to its main competitors. You can get more driving range from the Chevrolet Bolt and the Nissan Leaf, for instance, and both cars are less expensive to boot. But the BMW earns back some emotional points by being a nicer car to drive and spend time in. The same could be said for Tesla's new Model 3, however. It matches the i3 for premium design and performance and, as the kicker, offers potentially two or three times the driving range.

Notably, we picked the 2018 BMW i3 as one of Edmunds' Best Electric Cars for 2018.

Notably, we picked the 2018 BMW i3 as one of Edmunds' Best Used Cars.

What's it like to live with?

For more information on the BMW i3 of this generation, read about our experiences from a full year of living with a 2014 BMW i3 Range Extender. We cover everything from range to comfort. We liked it for its nimble driving characteristics and distinctive interior but had less positive things to say about the rear door and cargo space. The 2018 i3 is available with DC fast charging, a newer infotainment system, and heated seats that weren't offered on our 2014 long-term vehicle. It's the same generation, though, so most of our observations still apply.

2018 BMW i3 models

The 2018 BMW i3 is a four-door hatchback with seating for four passengers that's available in i3 or i3s trim, both of which are battery-electric, or you can have either one additionally equipped with a gasoline-powered Range Extender. All four versions are equipped with a 33-kWh battery.

Base i3 models are equipped with an electric motor (170 hp, 184 lb-ft of torque) that drives the rear wheels. With the same battery as last year's model, there's enough energy for an estimated 114 miles of range. It comes well equipped with 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and Level 3 DC fast-charging capability. Inside, the interior upholstery is cloth (Deka World) and it comes with keyless entry, rain-sensing headlights, adaptive cruise, heated front seats, Bluetooth, HD and satellite radio, and BMW's basic Business navigation system with a modest 6.5-inch display screen.

New this year is the i3s, which has more power and sharper handling than the i3. The electric motor in the i3s cranks out 184 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque, which shortens its sprint from zero to 60 mph to 6.8 seconds (0.4 second quicker than the base i3). Compared to the i3, the i3s' ride height sits 0.4 inch lower, and its fenders, track width (the distance between the center of the tires), 20-inch wheels and performance tires are wider. The wider, stickier tires come with a modest penalty — maximum range drops to 107 miles.

The only difference between the all-electric and the Range Extender versions is, quite simply, the range-extending, 0.6-liter two-cylinder gasoline generator, which is the same as last year's. Because the Range Extender is heavier, these models don't travel quite as far when operating on electricity alone, maxing out at an estimated 97 miles. A 2.3-gallon fuel tank enables a combined range of 180 miles for both Range Extender versions of i3 and i3s models.

All models can be equipped with the Technology + Driving Assistant package, which adds advanced navigation with a widescreen display and advanced real-time traffic, all-speed adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning with emergency braking. Opting for this package allows Apple CarPlay to be added, too.

For the i3, BMW offers three main upholstery packages — Mega World, Giga World and Tera World — that add combinations of leather and wool or full-leather upholstery plus different wheels and interior trim. Stand-alone options include parking sensors, 20-inch wheels (for the regular i3), a premium Harman Kardon audio system and a sunroof.

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 2017 BMW i3 w/Range Extender (battery electric w/0.6L 2-cyl. gasoline generator | 1-speed direct drive | RWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current i3 has received some revisions, including an updated infotainment system and a revised stability control calibration. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's i3.

Driving

8.5
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.

Acceleration

10.0
The latest i3 with the range extender weighs 122 pounds more than its predecessor by our scales, so it takes 7.4 seconds to get to 60 mph instead of 7.1 seconds. It's still quick for an electric vehicle. And now it's only marginally slower when the running off the generator, a huge improvement.

Braking

8.0
The i3 feels supremely stable when stopping hard, but you'll rarely encounter its natural pedal feel because of the i3's substantial off-throttle regenerative braking. Our i3 REX needed just 107 feet to stop from 60 mph, which is 4 feet shorter than its lighter predecessor and no less astounding.

Steering

8.5
The quick, responsive steering and a short wheelbase add up to an ultra-tight turning circle and excellent city maneuverability. But these same attributes can make the i3 feel darty on the highway at speed, especially since it can also be susceptible to following grooves in the road.

Handling

9.0
Don't let the skinny tires fool you. The i3 feels impressively coordinated and lively. It has a low center of gravity due to its lightweight carbon-fiber construction and batteries mounted under the floor, and the rear-mounted propulsion system gives it a slight rear weight bias that aids traction.

Drivability

Without the need to shift gears, electric vehicles like the i3 make for utterly smooth acceleration and braking. A high level of natural off-throttle regenerative braking allows for one-pedal driving, which is both efficient, fun and less taxing once you get familiar with it.

Comfort

8.0
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.

Seat comfort

8.0
The leather seats employ manual adjusters to save weight and electricity, but they have fixed lumbar support. The seats are thin and firm, as are the armrests, but they provide a surprisingly good level of comfort, though low on lateral support. The rear seats are decently comfy.

Ride comfort

7.5
The i3's carbon-fiber structure is supremely rigid, which virtually eliminates shudder and shake on rough roads. The suspension does an admirable job of absorbing road imperfections and potholes, but no one would describe the ride as plush.

Noise & vibration

7.0
There's a touch of wind and road noise on the highway that's only noticeable because the electric motor is silent. That changes when the gas generator comes on after the battery is depleted, and it sounds like a tiny lawnmower is following you.

Climate control

6.5
The climate control is single-zone only, with 2-degree adjustment increments for the cabin temperature. The seat heaters warm up quickly and offer even warmth across the seat surface. All the climate controls are very straightforward and easy to access.

Interior

8.0
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.

Ease of use

8.0
The nontraditional rotary shifter stalk is intuitive and easy to work once you use it a few times. There's the typical BMW iDrive controller and screen menus, which work well, and the steering-mounted controls that make for a slightly odd volume knob and preset placement.

Getting in/getting out

7.0
The slightly elevated seat position makes for easy access, though the step-over is a little higher as well, and the reverse-hinged rear doors open wide to admit passengers or packages. But these can be tricky when backseat passengers are off-loading in parking lots because of the corral effect.

Driving position

7.0
The seating position is upright with generous fore and aft adjustment and a tilt-and-telescoping steering column. The spring-loaded seat height adjuster requires pulling yourself up using the steering wheel or letting it rise before you sit. It's odd at first, but it's quicker than a ratcheting lever.

Roominess

8.0
There is legitimate room for four adults to fit comfortably inside the i3, with adequate leg- and headroom all around. Rear occupants might eventually notice it's a tad narrow back there, but the i3 isn't a long-distance cruiser anyway.

Visibility

8.0
The expansive forward and side visibility is aided by elevated seating position. The odd dip in rear door windows is useful, and the rear three-quarter blind spot isn't too bad. Rear parking sensors come standard; a rearview camera is optional.

Quality

8.5
The i3 costs more than the EVs it competes with, but the interior quality and modern design really separate it from the group and help justify the extra cost. There's an intriguing mix of high-quality and eco-friendly materials with the typical solid BMW switchgear.

Utility

8.0
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.

Small-item storage

7.5
The i3 has big door bins, a decent amount of dash storage, and a small but useful in-armrest bin. And there's sufficient open space under the flip-up center armrest for a medium-size purse. The backseat passengers have dedicated center-mounted cupholders. The i3 is very space-efficient.

Cargo space

8.0
The trunk is smallish at 15.1 cubic feet because the electric motor and generator are housed under the floor. This setup makes the loading height a bit high, too. The i3's high roof offsets these issues a bit, and the rear seats do fold absolutely flat. There's good usable space folding one or both.

Child safety seat accommodation

9.0
Reverse-hinged doors give uncommonly good access to front-facing seats. Access to some bulky rear-facing ones can be tough, and the open rear door may impede stroller access to the hatch. The two car seat positions benefit from LATCH and Isofix anchors that are easily accessed under plastic covers.

Technology

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.

Audio & navigation

8.0
The optional Harman Kardon system produces quality sound, though some may find it lacking in bass. Also, there's no AM radio tuner. The navigation system is easy to operate and allows destination input through voice, rotary dial or by touchpad character recognition.

Smartphone integration

9.0
Bluetooth and USB connections work as expected, and you can navigate to your music or other genres such as audiobooks and podcasts with the iDrive controller. You also have access to your smartphone's voice command through the car's voice control button by holding it down for about 4 seconds.

Driver aids

8.0
The optional adaptive cruise control will bring the i3 to a complete stop, and it works well in stop-and-go traffic. It also comes with forward collision warning and mitigation with pedestrian detection.

Voice control

8.0
For 2018, iDrive 6's enhanced voice controls promise big improvements. Speech processing is now cloud-based and performed off-board, and the system supports natural language.

EdmundsScorecard

Overall8.4 / 10
Driving8.5
Comfort8.0
Interior8.0
Utility8.0

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2018 BMW i3.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Love our i3 REX's
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.
2018 Protonic Blue i3S 94ah - 2nd i3
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.
Perfect Car for My Daily Needs
Neal C.,11/17/2018
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.
Great car - only one of its kind!
Robert,01/03/2019
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.

Safety

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.

More about the 2018 BMW i3

Used 2018 BMW i3 Overview

The Used 2018 BMW i3 is offered in the following submodels: i3 Hatchback. Available styles include w/Range Extender 4dr Hatchback (electric DD), s 4dr Hatchback w/Range Extender (electric DD), s 4dr Hatchback (electric DD), and 4dr Hatchback (electric DD).

What's a good price on a Used 2018 BMW i3?

Price comparisons for Used 2018 BMW i3 trim styles:

  • The Used 2018 BMW i3 w/Range Extender is priced between $19,999 and$24,990 with odometer readings between 20223 and34897 miles.
  • The Used 2018 BMW i3 s is priced between $24,950 and$27,000 with odometer readings between 16798 and51322 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2018 BMW i3s are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2018 BMW i3 for sale near. There are currently 7 used and CPO 2018 i3s listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $19,999 and mileage as low as 16798 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2018 BMW i3.

Can't find a used 2018 BMW i3s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used BMW i3 for sale - 9 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $10,265.

Find a used BMW for sale - 11 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $22,067.

Find a used certified pre-owned BMW i3 for sale - 2 great deals out of 6 listings starting at $12,221.

Find a used certified pre-owned BMW for sale - 3 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $17,214.

Should I lease or buy a 2018 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.

Check out BMW lease specials
Check out BMW i3 lease specials