2010 BMW 3 Series Review

3 Series

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Trims

328i
Avg. Price: $20,187
328i Convertible
Avg. Price: $27,361
328i Convertible SULEV
Avg. Price: $27,871
328i Coupe
Avg. Price: $22,701
328i Coupe SULEV
Avg. Price: $23,307
328i SULEV
Avg. Price: $21,023
328i Wagon
2 national listings
Avg. Price: $22,525
328i xDrive
Avg. Price: $21,631
328i xDrive Coupe
Avg. Price: $22,403
328i xDrive Wagon
Avg. Price: $25,376
328xi Coupe SULEV
Avg. Price: $22,350
Show 7 more trims

BMW 3 Series Experts

#1 Tom Demyan
Tom Demyan
Reputation 1,040
#2 Robert Charlson
Robert Charlson
Reputation 740
#3 Matt Mankinen
Matt Mankinen
Reputation 720
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Average User Score

4.55 stars

Based on 13 reviews

Amazing Car, Fun To Drive..."ultimate Driving Experience" by thespurs50
 — Ive basically only owned trucks but have been lucky enough to drive some very nice cars but never a BMW. I rode in one on the Autobahn(the only play to truly experience driving a car) but that was is... Read More
Amazing Car. by CSZR
 — Uber fun to drive. My 3rd 3series BMW. Safety, handling and power to weight ratio are the best atributes; confort and technology closely follow. Great acceleration, braking, and looks; no noise, no b... Read More
Sport And Utility In Perfect Size by Valery
 — Excellent combination of sport and utility. Ultimate sport wagon. Great response, dynamics, steering feedback. Great cargo volume. All-in-all - everything you need from the car: power, capacity, handl... Read More

2010 BMW 3 Series Review

The Good

You simply can’t get better handling in a street vehicle than from the 2010 BMW 3 Series, and the engines offered are some of the most refined in the world.

The Bad

The 2010 BMW 3 Series offers cheap vinyl upholstery as a base, and has some annoying designs with regard to control layout.

The CarGurus View

This is the vehicle that so many attempt and fail to usurp. BMW's 3 Series has grown up a lot over the last three decades, but still manages to offer the purest driving experience available. The fact that it can do it with so many amenities is only a bonus, but let’s hope they work out their interior design issues and fast.

At a Glance

Thirty-plus years into its existence, the BMW 3 Series has surpassed “legend in its own time” status. Marking the transition for BMW from an enthusiast’s to an executive’s car, the 3 Series took over the mantle the lauded 2002 held before it. After several upgrades in 2009, the 3 Series, introduced in 2006, is virtually unchanged for 2010, with HD radio now standard, redesigned wheels for the 328i, and optional automatic high beams the only additions.

Versatility has always been a strong point in the 3 Series, offered in coupe, convertible, wagon, and sedan configurations, with the option of rear-wheel drive (RWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) almost across the board, and your choice of turbocharging or natural aspiration. Because of this, the 3 Series can be set up as a weekend asphalt eater, an upscale mobile office, or a leisurely top-down cruiser. Equipped properly, it even makes a damn fine commuter.

Drivetrain

2010 BMW 3 Series

Leading the lineup is the 230-hp, 3.0-liter inline six in the 328, a naturally aspirated engine with an aluminum/magnesium crankcase and magnesium block that weighs in at only 354 pounds. Aluminum cylinder sleeves and variable valve timing are among the many features that allowed BMW to increase both performance and efficiency with this newest generation straight six, which turns out to have the lowest weight-to-horsepower ratio of any six-cylinder engine in production and is also the world’s lightest six-cylinder engine. It’s been named one of Ward’s ten best engines twice since its introduction in 2004, and as such it’s no surprise that every BMW in production offers this engine in at least one configuration.

The 335s get a turbocharged version of the 3.0-liter engine that produces 300 hp at 5,800 rpm and 300 lb-ft of torque at an incredibly accessible 1,400 rpm. Both engines come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, although an automatic is available with the same number of cogs. The EPA estimates a fuel efficiency rating of 18/28 mpg for the 328 with either transmission and RWD, and 17/26 for the 335. Choosing AWD will drop 1 mpg in both categories in all trims except the 335xi, which maintains 17 mpg in city driving.

Most impressive is the 3.0-liter turbodiesel in the 335d. It’s a beast of an engine that manages 265 hp and a brutal 425 lb-ft of torque at only 1,750 rpm. BMW didn’t think the six-speed manual used in the other 3 Series trims was capable of handling that kind of power down so low, and as a result the 335d is available only with the six-speed automatic. Despite all that power it still returns a rating of 23/36, so feel free to lean on your right foot.

Ride & Handling

2010 BMW 3 Series

The 3 Series has continually delivered the class standard for handling, and some trims go so far as to rival the most competent street machines out there, some far above its class and price point. The base suspension and tires start off better than most in the class, and it only gets better from there, with an optional sport suspension and low-profile tires that deliver a connection to the road that is literally unparalleled. The ride of the 3 Series is far from the luxury isolation you’ll find in some of the bubble barges out there, but even in those trims with the sport suspension and low-profile tires, inconsistencies in the road never manage to jar. Even the convertible offers a solid ride with none of the cowl shake or reverberation common to the design.

Cabin & Comfort

2010 BMW 3 Series

Sadly, the cabin of the 3 Series represents a glaring low point in the vehicle that goes beyond the now expected criticisms of the iDrive system. In fact, BMW claims to have improved the iDrive system of late, something with which the critics agree. Unfortunately, there are still many complaints to be seen, mostly centered around ergonomics with regard to line of sight and even reach.

Thankfully, these complaints don’t transfer over into the materials and construction, excepting the strange choice of making vinyl the base upholstery. Hard plastics are unicorn-rare, and the soft-touch materials and leather upholstery have the appropriate upscale feel and ambiance for the class.

Noise is well controlled, too, with refined engines and insulated interiors that make conversation easy. Tire noise increases with the sport suspension and low-profile tires, but never enough to annoy or intrude, and even the convertible offers a muted atmosphere that allows you to hear front and rear passengers alike, top up or down – a switch that can be accomplished via power in just 23 seconds.

Space and comfort up front are exceptional, but perhaps that’s to make up for the lack of it in the rear. Adults can still fit in the back, but will require some stretching before and after and shouldn’t plan on any long stays. Cargo room is also sparse, falling below class averages.

Safety

2010 BMW 3 Series

The 3 Series earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) highest rating of Good, although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) only offered a four-star rating for frontal impacts involving the driver or passenger. Side impact tests from the NHTSA awarded the 3 Series five stars, however.

All 3 Series trims come with dual front and front-side airbags, and all except the convertible come additionally with rear-side head-protecting airbags. Convertibles get automatically deploying roll bars that activate in the event of tip or rollover. Antilock four-wheel disc brakes are also standard, as is an anti-skid system. Coupes and convertibles also get daytime running lights, but others are strangely excluded.

What Owners Think

With class-leading handling and engines, not to mention top-quality fit, finish, and materials, there’s little for 3 Series owners to gripe about. That said, even though the 3 Series is priced relatively conservatively for a vehicle of its class, it still has quite a price tag. For that price, the little issues that owners have had with regard to cabin ergonomics, and the base vinyl upholstery, weigh even more on the mind.

Updated

A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.

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3 Series
Looking for a Used 3 Series in your area?
CarGurus has 35,128 nationwide 3 Series listings starting at $1,800.
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BMW 3 Series Questions

garryb
0

Air Conditioning

when I turn fan on it smells like stale pee does it mean I need to regas my air conditioning unit

10 views with 1 answer (last answer 2 weeks ago)
British
0

The Ac On My 328i Is Not Working.

The AC on my 328i is not working. The fan works, just no AC. How can I DIY it?

17 views with no answers yet
josip8456
0

How Much Would The Shipping Cost Be At To Sweden, I Want The 335i 2010 23.9...

335i 2010

8 views with 1 answer (last answer 2 months ago)
BMWGuy2007
0

Is The Instant Market Price What I Should Pay From A Dealer? Or Is It The P...

The car is a Certified Pre-owned BMW. IS the Instant Market Price that car gurus showing me the price I should pay to the dealer? or the price that should be on the sticker for me to negotiate even ...

29 views with 2 answers (last answer 2 months ago)
denismorisset
0

Considering Buying Used 328xi Wafgon (2010-62k Km) What Major Known Flaws T...

HI! Just had a road test on a used 2010-328xDrive Wagon certified car (2 extra yrs/40,000km coverage) (price: $24,900 CDN). Runs smoothly but noticed the interior's air fan (a/c-heat) didn't work. I'...

35 views with 3 answers (last answer 8 months ago)