2019 BMW i3 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Quick and nimble due to lightweight chassis
  • Well-crafted, contemporary interior has a distinctive style
  • Available range-extender model
  • Pricier than 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
$29,990 - $35,000

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Which i3 does Edmunds recommend?

While the i3s appeals with its wider stance and more powerful motor, we think the best way to go is to opt for the standard i3 and equip it with the Technology + Driving Assistant package. This package offers numerous active driving assists and a navigation system that features real-time traffic updates.

Edmunds' Expert Review

Overall rating

7.8 / 10

The BMW i3 debuted in 2014, making it one of the first electric vehicles to be offered from a luxury automaker. A lot has changed since then, both in terms of new technology and competitive models, but BMW has maintained the i3 as a relevant pick for EV shoppers by making constant updates.

Thanks to a higher-capacity battery this year, the i3 can now go an EPA-estimated 153 miles on a full charge — a significant jump from last year's 118-mile range. If you get a 2019 i3 equipped with the gasoline Range Extender generator, that figure jumps to 200 miles on a full charge and tank of gas.

Much of the rest of the i3 is the same, which is largely a good thing. Its small size and light weight make it nimble, quick to accelerate and easy to park. It also has one of the more distinctive interiors you'll find in an EV thanks to its curved dashboard design and varied interior color and material choices.

Some flaws remain, however. The rear-hinged rear doors, for instance, are a hassle to open and make getting in and out harder for backseat passengers. The i3's cargo area isn't very big either. And even with 153 miles of range this year, the i3 is increasingly left behind by rivals that can easily go more than 200 miles, such as the Tesla Model 3 and the Hyundai Kona Electric. But if style and urban maneuverability are priorities in your EV purchase, the 2019 BMW i3 deserves a look.

Notably, we picked the 2019 BMW i3 as one of Edmunds' Best Luxury Cars and Best Electric Cars and Cheapest Electric Cars for this year.

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 2019 i3 is available with a larger battery and more additional range, 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.

2019 BMW i3 models

The 2019 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. You can also get them equipped with a gasoline-powered Range Extender. All four versions are powered with a 42-kWh battery that provides up to 153 miles of range for the battery version or up to 200 miles for the Range Extender model.

Base i3 models have an electric motor (170 horsepower, 184 pound-feet of torque) that drives the rear wheels. It comes well equipped with 19-inch wheels, LED headlights and Level 3 DC fast-charging capability. Inside, the interior upholstery is cloth (Deka World), and it comes with keyless entry, automatic headlights, front and rear parking sensors, and heated front seats. For technology, you get Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay (subscription-based), satellite radio, and BMW's basic Business navigation system with a modest 6.5-inch display screen.

The i3s is the sportier, better-handling version of the i3. Its electric motor cranks out 181 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque, which shortens its 0-60 mph sprint 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, 20-inch wheels and performance tires are wider.

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 127 miles. A 2.3-gallon fuel tank enables a combined range of 200 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, all-speed adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning with emergency braking.

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 wireless charging pad, 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 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 in 2017, the current i3 has received some revisions, including more range, 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 2019 car gains about 42 pounds' worth of battery weight, but that shouldn't upset the finely balanced handling and responsive steering much. Acceleration is quick, though some rivals are dramatically quicker.

Acceleration

7.5
The i3 with the range extender takes 7.4 seconds to get to 60 mph instead of 7.1 seconds without it, still decently quick by modern car standards. But compared to Tesla's Model 3, its primary competition, the i3 is a whopping 2 seconds slower to 60 mph.

Braking

10.0
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

8.0
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

8.5
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

9.0
Without the need to shift gears, electric vehicles such as 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 efficient, fun and less taxing once you get familiar with it.

Comfort

7.0
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, but it doesn't offer quite the level of adjustment as competitors. The cabin is remarkably quiet until, that is, the battery runs down to zero and the two-cylinder gas generator kicks on.

Seat comfort

7.5
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 stadium-like and cushy.

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 cabin temperature adjustment increments, which is not as fine a degree of adjustment as most are used to. The seat heaters warm up quickly and offer even warmth across the seat surface. All the climate controls are straightforward and easy to access.

Interior

7.5
The i3's functional and friendly cabin is an inviting place to spend your commute and a very space-efficient one to boot. There's 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 actually 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 slightly odd volume knob and preset placement.

Getting in/getting out

6.5
A slightly elevated seat position makes for easy access, though the stepover is a little higher as well. The reverse-hinged rear doors open wide to admit passengers or packages, but that's only if you have the space to do so. You'll often find yourself corralled by the front and rear doors when trying to get in and out in tight parking lots. Rear passengers can't let themselves out either.

Driving position

7.0
The seating position is upright with generous fore/aft adjustment and a tilt-and-telescoping steering column. The spring-loaded seat height adjuster requires either 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

7.5
For its size, the i3 uses all of its interior space well. There is legitimate room for four adults to fit comfortably inside the i3, with adequate leg- and headroom all around. But there's no ignoring the fact that the Tesla Model 3 offers nearly 4 inches more rear legroom and 5 inches more shoulder room. Its narrowness will be most obvious to rear occupants, but the i3 isn't intended to be a long-distance cruiser anyway.

Visibility

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

Quality

8.0
The i3 is a bit costly even after considering the interior quality and modern design that really separates it from the group. Since the Model 3 has entered the scene, the i3 isn't quite the standout it once was. There's still an intriguing mix of high-quality and eco-friendly materials that will appeal to discerning buyers, along with the typical solid BMW switchgear. But it's no longer leaps and bounds better than the competition.

Utility

7.5
There is plentiful storage in the cabin, but the trunk is small and a bit high. The 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

9.0
The i3 has big door bins, a decent amount of dash storage, and a small but useful in-armrest bin. Backseat passengers have dedicated center-mounted cupholders. The i3 is very space-efficient.

Cargo space

7.0
The trunk is somewhat small because the electric drive motor and generator are housed under the floor, which makes the loading height a bit high too. The i3's high roof offsets these issues somewhat, and the rear seats do fold flat. There's good usable space folding one or both.

Child safety seat accommodation

6.5
The reverse-hinged doors give uncommonly good access to front-facing seats. Space for and access to larger rear-facing seats can be tough, and the open rear door may impede stroller access to the hatch. Even average-size drivers will find it a tight fit. The two car seat positions benefit from car seat and Isofix anchors that are easily accessed under plastic covers.

Technology

7.5
BMW's previous-generation iDrive infotainment system, which is the system in the i3, is preferred to the new system for its easier usability. Wireless Apple CarPlay comes standard, but there's still integration for Android Auto users. BMW offers decent access to your smartphone's voice functions through the in-car voice command button.

Audio & navigation

8.0
A rather small 6.5-inch screen is standard. That grows to 10.2 inches with the optional Tech + driving assistance package. 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 touchpad character recognition.

Smartphone integration

8.0
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. Wireless Apple CarPlay is standard but requires a subscription, as do all other BMW models. 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

7.5
The optional adaptive cruise control will bring the i3 to a complete stop and works well in stop-and-go traffic. It also comes with frontal collision warning and mitigation with pedestrian detection. Unfortunately, lane keeping assist is not offered on the i3.

Voice control

7.0
There is a fair amount of flexibility in the voice commands, though we had some issues with the system recognizing our destination address. iPhone users have an advantage because they can hold the button longer and access the phone's Siri voice recognition, which opens up a whole host of functions.

EdmundsScorecard

Overall7.8 / 10
Driving8.5
Comfort7.0
Interior7.5
Utility7.5
Technology7.5

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2019 BMW i3.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

4 out of 5 stars
It would be perfect with 16kw more battery power
Sloan,12/15/2019
s 4dr Hatchback w/Range Extender (electric DD)
Drives like you'd expect a BMW to drive. Solid. Very peppy. Range short of the 180 mile highway round trip on battery range that I'd like. Another 16 kw added to the present battery capacity would give you that range and still allow a Level 2 charger to fully charge an empty battery overnight. I get about 3 miles per kw hour. A bit less a highway speeds in cold weather. Very quiet. Hardly ever use brakes, as the motor brakes solidly and optimal energy management is easily learned. Interior is comfortable. Hatchback on my i3s gives me plenty of room for storage. Driving an electric means learning an entirely new mindset as one plans routes that include DC supercharging during 30 min rest stops. The range extender works fine for an extra 60 miles or so on 2 gallons of premium gas. Just wish the battery had a smidge larger capacity.
5 out of 5 stars
rating on getting in/out is completely wrong
tech_heavy,01/17/2020
4dr Hatchback w/Range Extender (electric DD)
How can a two door Honda Civic Coupe get a better rating by Edmunds for back seat access than an i3? I'm assuming Edmunds didn't learn that there's a headrest lever to allow back seat passengers to get out, which explains why i3 got such a bad rating. And having 4 doors is an advantage when loading large items from the side of the car. It's also easier to manage child car seats in an i3 than any 2 door car, and many 4 doors. Letting people that don't know how to operate carriage doors review an i3 is like having a dog review catnip.
1 out of 5 stars
IS NOT A LEMON IS A LEMONADE
SASA,07/30/2020
4dr Hatchback w/Range Extender (electric DD)
Problem after problem and dealer know not much about. Luchy for them that they stop production. Tire last 25/30000 mile $180 each. Back doors when you open and a car is park next you get very challenger get out. Warning light came on without a reason. Electric motor move back and for forth, replace support bushing, only last for 2 weeks. And more. And more, very disappointed for a car that has a BMW logo. 1 star is to much, i can't leave blank.
5 out of 5 stars
BMW i3 (REX)
iGod,05/08/2019
4dr Hatchback w/Range Extender (electric DD)
Simply Adorable

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 the driver in sudden slowdown situations.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Warns the driver of insufficient tire pressure well before a slow leak can lead to a blowout-caused roadside stranding or accident.
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Acceptable
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2019 BMW i3

Used 2019 BMW i3 Overview

The Used 2019 BMW i3 is offered in the following submodels: i3 Hatchback. Available styles include 4dr Hatchback (electric DD), 4dr Hatchback w/Range Extender (electric DD), s 4dr Hatchback w/Range Extender (electric DD), and s 4dr Hatchback (electric DD). Pre-owned BMW i3 models are available with a undefined-liter electric engine, with output up to 181 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2019 BMW i3 comes with rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 1-speed direct drive. The Used 2019 BMW i3 comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 4 yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2019 BMW i3?

Price comparisons for Used 2019 BMW i3 trim styles:

  • The Used 2019 BMW i3 Base is priced between $29,990 and$32,991 with odometer readings between 12176 and20948 miles.
  • The Used 2019 BMW i3 s is priced between $35,000 and$35,000 with odometer readings between 16448 and16448 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 2019 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) 2019 BMW i3 for sale near. There are currently 6 used and CPO 2019 i3s listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $29,990 and mileage as low as 12176 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 2019 BMW i3.

Can't find a used 2019 BMW i3s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used BMW i3 for sale - 9 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $13,238.

Find a used BMW for sale - 11 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $12,829.

Find a used certified pre-owned BMW i3 for sale - 7 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $19,392.

Find a used certified pre-owned BMW for sale - 11 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $21,567.

Should I lease or buy a 2019 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.

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