by Jay Traugott
The all-new BMW 3 Series sedan was introduced in 2019, but the 2019 3 Series Wagon is still based on the old shape and will not be renewed for the next year. That's right, the 3 Series Wagon will no longer be available after the 2019 model (in the U.S. market at least). They have also trimmed down the range to just one model, namely the 330i xDrive. It comes with a 248 horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, with all-wheel drive as standard. Despite the low demand, the 3 Series Wagon offers the same features and handling as its old sedan counterpart, but with the added benefit of more cargo space. The 3 Series Wagon still faces competition from more modern wagons like the Audi allroad and Volvo V60, as well as SUVs like the BMW X3.
There are no new changes for 2019 except for the diesel-powered 328d being dropped from the lineup, leaving a single gasoline variant available to see out the station wagons remaining months.
The 330i Wagon has attractive teardrop LED headlight clusters as the only distinguishing features on the front-end. The rest looks plain, and casual observers will be hard-pressed to tell what model it is when looking at it from the front. It has a typically long station wagon profile that's alleviated by the stylish 17-inch wheels. The rear continues the conservative look with the generic taillight clusters, and the small spoiler hardly makes any impact on the visual appearance. The optional Shadow Port Edition Package does wonders for the exterior styling at an affordable price of just $1,350, equipping blacked-out styling elements to items usually decked in chrome.
The 330i Wagon has a length of 182.2 inches, which, surprisingly, is the same as the sedan on which it is based, although it offers way more in terms of cargo space. It has a wheelbase of 110.6 inches and a width of 71.3 inches. The height, running the length of the cabin is 56.5 inches. Thanks to the all-wheel-drive system, the curb weight is a bit heavy at 3,867 lbs, and the Wagon has a ground clearance of 5.7 inches.
The energetic turbocharged 2.0-liter gasoline engine makes 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, and with an eight-speed automatic transmission, the pairing feels like the perfect fit for the 330i xDrive. Whilst it's not the quickest engine out there, it feels like one of the most practical, hitting the 60 mph mark in 5.5 seconds. For a car that's most likely to be used for carrying loads and family outings, it has enough grunt when loaded with passengers and luggage, and still manages to give decent fuel economy. BMW has obviously limited the engine lineup to the most popular engine due to the lack of sales, and has made a wise decision to cut the diesel engine that formed part of last year's range. The eight-speed transmission provides quick, smooth changes on both upshifts and downshifts, and never feels overworked.
It's hard to tell the difference between the 3 Series Wagon and the sedan variant when it comes to ride and handling. The 330i xDrive hugs the road with its all-wheel-drive system and effortlessly glides around the corners with minimal body roll. When looking through the rearview, it takes some time getting used to the extended length, but thanks to the great visibility it isn't much of a problem. The steering is light, although a bit vague - but this is a family car, not a sports coupe. The 330i xDrive was designed for long, comfortable journeys with minimum fuss and easily achieves its goals. The only drawbacks are the lack of standard driver aids, which are expected from a car in this class.
Gas mileage is normally a serious consideration when choosing a family car, and the 330i xDrive exceeds expectations. It gets an estimated 23/33/27 mpg city/highway/combined, which is better than the Audi A4 allroad's 23/28/25 mpg, but not as good as the comparative Volvo V60 T5 momentum at an estimated 24/36/28 mpg. The range of the 330i xDrive is around 426 miles in mixed driving conditions when its 15.8-gallon tank is filled up.
Five passengers can be easily accommodated and will enjoy a comfortable ride whether sitting on the standard SensaTec seats, or the upgraded Dakota leather. The front occupants get more than enough space with 40.4 inches of headroom and 42.0 inches to stretch your legs out. The extended roofline means that taller rear passengers benefit from 38.3 inches of headroom and they also get 35.0 inches of legroom, which is similar to the sedan. The rear seats aren't particularly accommodating of the tallest passengers, but most adults will be more than comfortable, even on longer journeys.
The main reason for opting for a wagon instead of the sedan would be for the increased cargo space. With this in mind, BMW has made the Wagon as practical as possible, with a power liftgate with four height settings. The loading area itself measures 17.5 cubic feet and opens up to a maximum of 53.0 cu-ft with the seats down. While not bad for a wagon, the space pales in comparison to the similarly priced BMW X3 with 28.7 cu-ft with the seats up, and a cavernous 62.7 cu-ft with the seats down. Maybe crossovers are more practical after all.
As far as storage for smaller items goes, there are front cupholders, a shallow glove box, and a center console storage box. Rear passengers get a center armrest storage box and cupholders and front seat pockets. All four doors also have storage pockets.
The 330i xDrive has many standard features but is showing its age, especially when compared to the new 3 Series sedan. Most of the driver aids like forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning, and blind-spot detection are expensive options. Heated seats, onboard navigation, and adaptive cruise control are also optional. The standard equipment includes cruise control, remote locking and unlocking, SensaTec upholstery, dual-zone climate control power-adjustable seats with memory function, LED headlights, and automatic wipers. A power liftgate, roof rails, and panoramic sunroof are also included.
The infotainment system in the 330i xDrive is dated with only Apple CarPlay available for advanced connectivity, and at a $300 fee with an annual subscription payable after the first 12 months. A small 6.5-inch display with no touch capability handles infotainment and is sorely lacking behind the latest setups from the German marque. Luckily it has the user-friendly iDrive controller in addition to Bluetooth capability, a USB port, and AUX port, CD player, AM/FM radio, HD radio, satellite radio and nine speakers.
The options available to upgrade it include a Harman Kardon sound system at $875 and wireless charging at $500. Onboard navigation with a touchpad is a whopping $1,700. Android Auto isn't offered at all.
There has been one recall for the 3 Series Wagon involving faulty crankshaft firmware that could cause the car to stall. The 3 Series Wagon gets an average predicted reliability rating of three out of five stars from J.D. Power. As with most BMWs, the powertrain and basic warranty are valid for four years/50,000 miles. It also comes with roadside assistance for four years/unlimited mileage and a 12-year/unlimited mileage corrosion and perforation warranty. BMW also takes care of maintenance with BMW Ultimate Care that is valid for four years/unlimited mileage.
Safety has always been a hallmark of BMWs, and the 330i xDrive continues the tradition with a five-star rating from the NHTSA. It also had the honor of winning a 2018 Top Safety Pick from the IIHS, at least in sedan guise, thanks to scores of Good in most of their tests. The 3 Series lacks the more advanced driver aids, but still has safety features like four-wheel ABS brakes, stability control, traction control, tire pressure monitoring, and emergency braking assist. It also has six airbags comprising dual front airbags, front side airbags, and side curtain airbags.
The 2019 330i xDrive is based on a model that is now obsolete. Due to woeful sales, it's the last 3 Series Wagon to be offered to the U.S. market and has some obvious deficiencies. The styling is conservative like many wagons but now looks very out of date compared to its modern rivals. The standard equipment levels are also low, and it costs a fortune to get it up to spec.
Where is excels is in having a great ride and handling. The interior, while dated, is still solid and elegant. The single-engine option does the car justice with decent performance and above-average fuel economy. Unfortunately, the cons outweigh the pros, and it's easy to see why BMW is phasing it out. It's hard to justify buying the 3 Series Wagon when compared to similarly priced SUVs and more modern wagons.
The 330i xDrive starts at an MSRP of $45,000, excluding the $995 destination fee. Additionally, there are also licensing, registration, and taxes to pay. Like all BMW vehicles, it pays to be selective when running through the options list as it's easy to raise the price substantially by selecting non-essential items.
|330i xDrive Sports Wagon||
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
The 330i xDrive is the only option when choosing a 3 Series Wagon. In its standard form, it lags behind many cars in terms of features and will need some add-ons to make it liveable. Some of the recommended options include the Executive Package at $3,100 that adds Dakota leather upholstery, surround-view camera, a digital instrument cluster, adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams, and the parking assistant. The Premium Package, at $3,000, adds heated front seats, navigation, a head-up display, and a one-year trial version of Apple CarPlay. It would also be worth getting the Harman Kardon sound system at $875, and wireless charging at $500 to round out the Wagon's overall appeal.
The death of the station wagon is attributed to the popularity of the SUV. Station wagons offer car-like handling, while SUVs are more versatile and offer greater visibility. The cheapest all-wheel-drive BMW X3 starts at $43,000 for the xDrive30i and comes with a 248-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter engine with eight-speed automatic transmission, while the 248-hp 330i xDrive starts at $45,000. In terms of cargo space, the X3 has 28.7 cu-ft with the seats up, and 6.7 cu-ft with the seats down. It also has a towing capacity of 4,400 lbs. On the other hand, the 330i only has 17.5 cu-ft with the seats up and 53.0 cu-ft with the seats down. The X3 offers the same power, but is newer, cheaper and has more cargo space and passenger space as well as more features. Getting the X3 over the 3 Series Wagon is a no-brainer, unless you wish to be part of the niche of being a wagon owner.
The Volvo T5 Momentum starts at $38,900 and features a 250-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive system. The 248-hp BMW 330i xDrive costs $45,000. The V60 was only introduced in 2019 and is far more modern than the 3 Series Wagon both inside and out. The interior is simple and elegant and has a nine-inch touchscreen with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. When it comes to cargo space, it has 23.2 cu-ft with the seats up which easily beats the 330i with 17.5 cu-ft. When the seats are down, the BMW wins with 53.0 cu-ft compared to the Volvo's 50.9 cu-ft. The T5 Momentum is cheaper than the 330i xDrive and has much more power on tap. It is also more modern and has more space and is a much better buy. Cementing the V60's superiority is an even more powerful T6 variant, that still undercuts the BMW's price.