3 Series

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2018 BMW 3 Series Overview

Few vehicles define the marriage of performance and luxury like the BMW 3 Series. For decades, it has been an attractive, precise, and upscale small car. The 2018 BMW 3 Series is available as a Sedan or Sports Wagon. (There is also a versatile 3 Series Gran Turismo not covered in this preview.)

Regardless of body style, the 3 Series features a chiseled look, with sharp creases in the headlight design. For 2018, the headlights are the upgraded LED units across the lineup—a previously optional feature.

The 3 Series is available with one of four conventional engines or one hybrid powertrain. The alpha-numerical badge on the trunk lid indicates the engine under the hood.

The 320i is the efficiency-focused base trim, featuring a turbocharged, 2-liter inline 4-cylinder making 180 hp. The 330i features a turbo 2-liter inline 4-cylinder as well, but it is tuned to put out 248 hp.

The 340i is the most powerful 3 Series before moving up to the M3 Sedan (not covered in this preview). The turbocharged inline 6-cylinder in the 340i makes 320 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque.

Seeking the efficiency of a diesel engine? The 328d features a turbodiesel 2-liter engine that makes 180 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque.

Finally, there is the 330e “iPerformance” Plug-in Hybrid. It combines the base gas 4-cylinder with an 87 hp electric motor for a total system output of 247 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque.

An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard across the lineup, including the hybrid. The 320i, 330i, and 340i are all available with a manual transmission as a no-cost option.

All models, including the hybrid, are standard with rear-wheel drive (RWD), lending to the sporting nature of the 3 Series. Every model (except the hybrid) is offered with available xDrive all-wheel drive (AWD), providing enhanced traction year-round.

The 330e has a 14-mile electric range and earns a 71 MPGe rating from the EPA. When the electric power is exhausted, the 330e nets just 30 combined MPG.

The diesel-powered 328d returns 31 mpg city, 43 highway, and 36 combined, making it the most efficient non-hybrid model. The most efficient conventional gas trim is the RWD 320i, returning 24 mpg city, 35 highway, 28 combined. The 330i is very close to that, returning 24 mpg city, 34 highway, 27 combined, making it an ideal combination of performance and efficiency.

The least efficient option in the lineup is the 340i with xDrive, returning 20 mpg city, 29 highway, 23 combined.

For stylings, drivers have an array to choose from, including: Sport, Sport Plus, Luxury, and M Sport. New for 2018, the Shadow Sport Edition features unique wheels with dark accents, a black grille frame, black headlight bezels, and slightly darkened taillights. In most cases, opting for one trim over the other will not incur extra cost.

The Sport features more high-gloss black details, a reversing camera, 17-inch wheels, and unique Sport aerodynamic body elements.

The Luxury, available on the 330i and above, adds more chrome and maturity.

The M Sport ramps up the performance nature, with M Sport suspension, “Shadowline” exterior trim, aerodynamic body kit, M steering wheel, and 18-inch M wheels, wrapped in performance tires.

The 3 Series supplies a tech-laden interior with easy-to-use controls and front seats with a flowing design. An available orange ambient interior lighting lines the door panels and center console controls. The 3 Series has 13-cubic feet of trunk space, while the Sport Wagon increases cargo space to 27.5-cubic feet of cargo space, and 53-cubic feet with the rear seats folded.

At the center of the dash is the latest version of BMW’s iDrive infotainment system. In the past, iDrive required owners to use a controller in the center console that had a bit of a learning curve. The controller is still there, but the iDrive screen now offers user-friendly touch-operation..

For 2018, iDrive is now available with Apple CarPlay as an option, allowing for enhanced connectivity to iPhones, and wireless charging for compatible phones. An available head-up display (HUD) projects critical information on the windshield, such as vehicle speed and turn-by-turn directions.

BMW provides multiple suspension and chassis options that allow the driver to get the most out of the 3 Series, including an Adaptive M Suspension and Variable Sport steering. These features adjust the ride and steering feel of the car from comfort-oriented to more performance-based driving. They can be adjusted via drive mode selector in the center console, with Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ driving modes. Presets vary based on trim and drivetrain selected.

For 2018, the 3 Series now comes standard with a reversing camera. Other standard safety features on the 3 Series includes front and side impact airbags, stability control, traction control, LATCH child seat anchoring system, and a tire pressure monitoring system.

Drivers can also get the 3 Series with available high-tech safety features like blind-spot monitor, lane departure warning, forward collision avoidance, and adaptive cruise control.

Base MSRP for the 2018 BMW 3 Series is $34,900 for a 320i. The 330i starts at $40,250, while a diesel-powered 328d starts at $41,750. Rounding out the top-end of the lineup, the 330e iPerformance starts at $45,600, while a 340i starts at $48,950.

Be it the performance handling, luxurious interiors, or latest in-car and advanced safety technology, the BMW 3 Series has something to offer a wide-range of luxury sedan and wagon buyers.

Updated by Megan Hennessey

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