by Michael Butler
As with so many other German manufacturers, BMW is transforming its offering from gas to electric offerings, and cars such as the 2023 BMW 3 Series Hybrid are integral to this process. The BMW 3 Series has been one of the traditional leaders in the compact luxury space, and its hybrid variants have proven to be highly capable and likable machines. Nothing much changes for the 2023 model year, but there's still a ton to like. The 3 Series plug-in hybrid has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to a plug-in hybrid electric system generating a combined 288 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. This might be down on grunt compared to its Swedish competitor, the 400-hp Volvo S60 Recharge, but it's still enough to entertain and combines with the choice of rear- or all-wheel drive to make the 3 Series Hybrid a consummate performer. In this review of the BMW 3 Series Hybrid, we see if adding a "hybrid" badge on the trunk lid will ruin an otherwise perfectly good German sedan.
For 2023, the BMW 3 Series Hybrid, along with the rest of the 3 Series lineup in the USA, gets slimmer headlights and a slightly revised front fascia, while the interior now features a BMW Curved Display and the iDrive 8 operating system. Skyscraper Gray Metallic has been added to the color palette, as has Brooklyn Grey if you spec the M Sport package. Minor changes to the exterior and interior trim take place, and the Dynamic Handling Package no longer includes the M Sport Differential.
See trim levels and configurations:
When it comes to engaging driving dynamics, people tend to go for the BMW 3 Series over, say, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class or Audi A4, but does this still hold up in 2022? We've found that BMW cars (excluding M cars, of course) have become rather pedestrian to drive, and the 2023 BMW 3 Series Hybrid is no different. There's a good balance of comfort and dynamic ability, but the car definitely leans toward the side of comfort, which is entirely understandable; it's a hybrid, after all.
When you do decide to step on it a bit, the BMW 3 Series Hybrid returns an entertaining experience, but nothing close compared to its more performance-focused siblings and rivals. The hybrid powertrain is good for all types of driving and offers a good punch of torque when you're peeling out of a corner or need to overtake Tesla Model 3s on the highway. Rivals might have more power, but nearly 300 hp is plenty in this application.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
A new BMW 3 Series Hybrid will always have something to offer anyone; from pleasing driving characteristics to luxury and tech features, this is a well-balanced compact. Throw in a punchy hybrid powertrain and the fuel economy figures of a much smaller car, and you're onto a winner. The exterior might not look massively aggressive, but that's not what hybrid drivers are about, and tech such as BMW's Live Cockpit Professional system keeps things on the cutting edge. Under the hood, that hybrid powertrain won't blow you back in your seat, but it's not the worst hybrid engine we've experienced, and it feels quick where it matters. At the price, the Volvo S60 looks very attractive and has a better safety record, but it isn't easy to put a price on the prestige that comes with the BMW badge.