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2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan

$34,900 - $50,950
Price Range (MSRP)
BMW 3 Series Sedan

2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan Review

by Jared Rosenholtz

BMW's iconic 3 Series mid-size luxury sedan is one of the German brand's most important models, combining appealing driving dynamics with style, comfort, and excellent build quality. The sixth-generation model maintains many of the hallmarks that have defined every 3 Series before it but finds itself facing stiff competition, both within the segment and from the burgeoning SUV market. The F30 BMW 3 Series remains an athletic-looking sedan, but the interior has now fallen behind in terms of modern design and attention to detail. While still a neat handler, it prioritizes comfort to a greater extent than previous generations of the model. However, from the base 320i all the way up to the powerful 340i, every model offers good performance and the accomplished powertrains keep the 3 Series competitive, even as an all-new model is on the horizon.

2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan Changes: What’s the difference vs 2017 3 Series Sedan?

BMW has made a few changes to the features list and available packages for the 2018 3 Series. LED fog lights and LED headlights are now standard equipment across the range. Three new special edition packages have been made available: Edition Sport Line Shadow, Edition Luxury Line Purity, and Edition M Sport Shadow. A new interior color/trim option in Cognac can now also be specified while opting for the Professional navigation system brings with it tweaks to the touch-operated iDrive system.

Pros and Cons

  • Powerful and efficient engines
  • Exterior design remains classically 3 Series
  • Absorbent ride quality
  • Accurate and composed handling
  • User-friendly iDrive infotainment system
  • Class-leading automatic transmission
  • Interior design and execution now feels outdated
  • Optional extras are costly
  • Artificial steering feel

3 Series Sedan Exterior

The 3 Series retains classic cues that have made the model instantly recognizable, from the double kidney grille to the C-pillar kink, L-shaped rear taillights, and long hood. In base form, it isn't the flashiest competitor in the segment, but neither does it polarize. Boosting the presence of the 3 Series are LED fog lights, LED headlights, and daytime driving lights. A large variety of wheel designs and optional packages are available to further enhance and customize the looks.

2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan Front View
2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan Rear View
2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan Side View
See All 2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The BMW 3 Series is very similar in size to its chief rivals, the Audi A4 and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, although the A4 is the longest of the three. Key dimensions for the 3 Series are 71.3 inches in width, 56.3 inches in height, and 182.8 inches in length. Curb weight ranges from 3,295 lbs for the 320i to 3,820 lbs for the 340i xDrive. The wheelbase stretches to 110.8 inches.

Exterior Colors

A total of 12 colors can be specified for the 3 Series: two non-metallic choices and ten metallic colors. Non-metallic colors are Jet Black and Alpine White. Metallic color options are Mineral White, Glacier Silver, Platinum Silver, Mineral Gray, Jatoba Brown, Black Sapphire, Melbourne Red, Mediterranean Blue, Estoril Blue, Sunset Orange, and Tanzanite Blue. The lower-spec 320i isn't available in Estoril Blue and Tanzanite Blue.

  • Platinum Silver Metallic
  • Mediterranean Blue Metallic
  • Sunset Orange Metallic
  • Black Sapphire Metallic
  • Melbourne Red Metallic
  • Glacier Silver Metallic
  • Mineral White Metallic
  • Mineral Gray Metallic
  • Jatoba Brown Metallic, Build Out:02/28/2018
  • Estoril Blue Metallic, Priority 1
  • Tanzanite Blue Metallic, Build Out:10/31/17
  • Alpine White
  • Jet Black

3 Series Sedan Performance

Performance ranges from useful in the 320i to breathtaking in the fire-breathing 340i. The 320i produces 180 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque from its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, enough to complete the 0-60 mph run in 7.9-seconds. The 330i uses the same engine but with a meatier 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque to reach 60 mph in 5.5-seconds. The 328d is the only diesel 3 Series and produces 180 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque to complete the benchmark sprint in 6.8 seconds. Finally, the range-topping 340i produces 320 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque and blitzes the 0-60 mph sprint in only five seconds. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard on all models and makes it easy to extract the most performance from all the engines. Rear-wheel-drive is standard, but BMW's xDrive system can be optionally specified on every model. Overall, the 3 Series is a strong performer in the class. At the top end, the 340i competes with the aggressive Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG and provides similar performance.

2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan Front View Driving
2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan Rear View Driving
2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan 3.0L V6 Turbo Engine

Engine and Transmission

Long gone are BMW's small, naturally aspirated six-cylinder engines. In their place, the 320i and 330i both use turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinders - although not providing the same intoxicating soundtrack, these engines are smooth, energetic, and efficient. The 320i produces 180 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque, just enough for the 3 Series to keep up with faster traffic on the highway and providing perky performance in town. The 330i has outputs of 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque and feels significantly faster than the 320i, with all the performance you could need in a variety of driving conditions. The 328d, with its 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine, chases efficiency and as a result, can feel a bit lazy at pull away. Its gruffness under acceleration is also at odds with the refined gas-powered models, but it does settle into a very refined cruise and the 280 lb-ft of torque makes overtaking easy. The 340i's 320 hp and 330 lb-ft from its 3.0-liter straight-six turbocharged engine provide effortless, lusty performance throughout the rev range and as the only six-cylinder 3 Series - besides the M3 - it is by far the most desirable model in the range.

All models are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission that is pretty much flawless - shifts are fast and smooth and the transmission always seems to be in the right gear. A six-speed manual is available, but there's little reason to choose it over the automatic unless you must change gears yourself.

  • Engines
    2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Diesel, 2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas, 3.0-liter Turbo Inline-6 Gas
  • Transmission
    8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, RWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The main point of contention with the sixth-generation (F30) 3 Series has related to the feel from the electric power steering system, which simply hasn't been as communicative or natural in its sensations as previous models. Rivals like the Jaguar XE have now surpassed the 3 Series for driving pleasure. Still, at least the system is nicely responsive to driver inputs, and the 3 Series is still an excellent handler through a series of acute bends. Body control is good and the 3 still enjoys a near-perfect weight distribution front-to-rear. Grip levels are high enough, while the optional adaptive M Sport Suspension improves the dynamic ability of the 3 Series to a greater degree.

Ride comfort is as good as it has ever been in a 3 Series, with the F30 feeling supple, well-planted, and comfortable in most conditions. This is despite the fitment of run-flat tires which resulted in rather brittle ride quality in older BMWs. While reasonably refined, the 3 Series does suffer from more road noise than in an Audi A4 or Mercedes-Benz C-Class. BMW's stop/start system is also more abrupt than other competitors and is better left switched off.

3 Series Sedan Gas Mileage

The 3 Series as a range offers good fuel economy. The base 320i achieves 24/35/28 mpg in a mix of city/highway/combined driving, matching the fuel efficiency of a similarly powered Audi A4. This equates to a range of 442 miles from the 15.8-gallon gas tank. The 330i is nearly as efficient, with EPA-rated economy figures of 23/34/27 mpg. The most fuel-efficient model is the 328d, which is rated at 31/43/37 mpg - this means a range of 584 miles. The powerful 340i's figures are 21/31/25 mpg, but a heavy right foot can see economy take a significant dive. xDrive models will see a 1 mpg drop in economy due to the heavier drivetrain.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    15.8 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 24/35 mpg
* 2018 BMW 3 Series 320i Sedan

3 Series Sedan Interior

The 3 Series' basic interior architecture is still up to scratch: space utilization is good, most of the materials are of decent quality, and ergonomically it all remains easy to use and understand. However, there's no denying that the design comes across as very conservative, and the materials lack the visual appeal of those in an Audi A4 or Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Highlights include the iDrive control interface and classic BMW instrumentation which remains neat and sensible. Overall, the 3 Series cabin trades extravagance and ultimate luxury for a high level of functionality.

2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan Dashboard Layout
2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan Dashboard
2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan Driver Area
See All 2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The BMW 3 Series seats five passengers, although two rather than three will be more comfortable in the back seat. Space in the front is ample, both for the head- and legroom. The driver also gets a wide range of adjustment and the steering wheel can be positioned to suit drivers of all shapes and sizes. At the back, the 3 Series offers sufficient legroom, with even those over six-feet tall having enough knee room. However, three passengers abreast might feel pinched for elbow and shoulder space. The middle seat passenger also sits uncomfortably high, reducing headroom. Ingress and egress are simple enough, although rear seat occupants may find that the front seats hamper access if the front seat passenger or driver is taller.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

All 3 Series models come standard with SensaTec upholstery, with Dakota leather being an option. On the 320i, black or Venetian beige upholstery can be specified, while Dakota leather can be had in black, oyster, or Venetian beige/black. The 328d, 330i, and 340i's interiors can be specified in black with red stitching, while additional colors like cognac and dark brown are available for the Dakota leather. The steering wheel is wrapped in leather, while woodgrain trim is optionally available on the 320i but standard on all other variants.

3 Series Sedan Trunk and Cargo Space

The 3 series has a usefully sized trunk measuring 13 cubic feet in capacity. This is enough to accommodate two large suitcases, one smaller suitcase, and a few soft bags. Underfloor storage and tie-down hooks and netting also prevent smaller items from rolling around. Conveniently located levers make it easy to drop the 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatbacks, although this functionality is an option on the base 320i. Storage for small items is only average, but all doors have well-sized pockets and there are four cupholders - two in front and two at the back. Child seats can be easily positioned on any of the three rear seat positions, where LATCH anchors are fitted.

2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan Rear View
2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan Side View
2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan Right Side View
  • Trunk Volume
    13 ft³

3 Series Sedan Infotainment and Features

Features

While most of the essentials are in place, the 3 Series isn't the most lavishly equipped model in the class, with many of the most appealing features being found on the options list. Standard equipment on the base 320i includes dual-zone climate control, SensaTec-trimmed seats, cruise control, keyless entry, keyless start, a back-up camera, and power windows/mirrors. All other models in the range add powered front seats with a memory function for the driver and a universal garage door opener. Optionally available features include a dynamic digital instrument cluster, side and top view cameras, heated seats, park distance control, and a head-up display.

Infotainment

The 3 Series benefits from BMW's advanced, responsive iDrive control interface. A 6.5-inch color display screen is standard, but the optional 8.8-inch screen is a worthwhile upgrade. With familiarity, the system is easy to use with appealing graphics and fast processing speeds. The standard audio system includes HD radio, Bluetooth connectivity, an auxiliary audio input, MP3 player, and smart device integration (Android Auto isn't available while Apple CarPlay is an option). 340i models add satellite radio and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system providing superb acoustics. The Premium Package adds Apple CarPlay integration, a navigation system, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and improved Bluetooth connectivity.

3 Series Sedan Problems and Reliability

While the sixth-generation 3 Series has been generally dependable, the NHTSA has issued four recalls for the 2018 model, with issues including the airbags, the wipers, faulty run-flat tires, and the most recently reported issue being a glitch with the electronic stability control. J.D. Power has given the 2018 BMW 3 Series a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which rates the model as average. 3 Series models are covered by a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty and a four-year/50,000-mile drivetrain warranty. This is identical to the warranties offered by the A4 and C-Class.

3 Series Sedan Safety

The 2018 BMW 3 Series has a five-star NHTSA safety rating and was named as a top safety pick by the IIHS. The 3 Series achieved the maximum 'Good' rating from the IIHS for all major crashworthiness parameters besides the driver lower leg/foot rating, for which it received an 'Average' rating. It must also be noted that the standard headlights of the 3 Series received a poor rating from the IIHS.

Key Safety Features

Standard safety features include a tire pressure monitor, airbags front and rear (including a driver's knee airbag), brake assist, stability and traction control, and a back-up camera. Unfortunately, driver aids which are standard on some competitors are only options on the 3 Series. These are blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and rear parking aid. Cross-traffic alert and lane-keeping assist are also found on some rivals but are not available for the 3 Series.

Verdict: Is the 2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan a good car?

As the sixth-generation 3 Series approaches the end of its lifecycle, competitors have gradually caught up and in some areas surpassed the BMW. The Jaguar XE is a more engaging drive, the Audi A4 is more comfortable and refined, while the Mercedes-Benz C-Class has a significantly more opulent cabin. Japanese competitors from Genesis and Lexus also offer more features as standard. However, the 3 Series is far from outclassed. It remains a talented mid-size sedan with a comfortable ride, a cabin made from good materials, a class-leading infotainment system, and superb powertrains. BMW has been doing this for longer than anyone else, and it shows in the 3's consistent spread of abilities - there isn't really any area where is seriously disappoints. It's simply that the highs aren't quite as high as they were in a segment rich with talent. The 3 Series remains formidable, but it may just be worth holding out for the all-new model arriving next year.

What's the Price of the 2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan?

The 3 Series range begins with the rear-wheel-drive 320i at an MSRP of $34,900. The price is exclusive of tax, licensing registration, and a destination and handling charge of $995. The range continues with the 320i xDrive at $36,900, the 330i at $40,250, the 328d at $41,750, the 330i xDrive at $42,250, the 328d xDrive at $43,750, and the 340i at $48,950. Topping the range is the 340i xDrive at $50,950.

2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan Models

The 3 Series range is made up of eight different models: the 320i, 320i xDrive, 330i, 330i xDrive, 328d, 328d xDrive, 340i, and the 340i xDrive. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, but a six-speed manual is optional on the 320i, 330i, 340i, and 340i xDrive.

The base 320i misses out on some of the best features and also has a more limited selection of available options. It does, however, get dual-zone climate control, push-button start, Bluetooth connectivity, a 6.5-inch color display, and a nine-speaker audio system. The 328d and 330i add folding and heated side mirrors, powered front seats with a driver's memory setting, and split-folding rear seats. The 340i enjoys the additions of a sunroof, a Harman Kardon sound system, and 14-way adjustable power front seats. The most noteworthy omissions from the standard features list are heated seats and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay integration.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
320i Sedan
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
$34,900
320i xDrive Sedan
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$36,900
330i Sedan
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
$40,250
328d Sedan
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Diesel
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
$41,750
330i xDrive Sedan
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$42,250
See All 2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

As is the way of the Germans, the 3 Series can be customized with a vast array of standalone features or one of several packages. The Driving Assistance Package costs $500 and includes an active driving assistant, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, pedestrian warning, and city collision mitigation. Continuing with one of the cheaper available packages, wireless charging also costs $500 and includes a WiFi hotspot, enhanced USB and Bluetooth, and an adjustable front armrest.

The Convenience Package ($2,250 on the 320i) adds power front seats, a power moonroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a universal garage door opener. Pricier packages include the Premium Package ($3,000 on the 320i and $2,900 on other models) and this adds heated front seats, navigation, SiriusXM satellite radio, comfort access keyless entry, and lumbar support, among other items. The M Sport Package (not available on the 320i, but $4,750 on the 330i) adds several unique interior and exterior trim details, the M Sport suspension, larger tires, a power moonroof, and an M steering wheel. The Track Handling Package is a lighter version of the M Sport Package ($2,300 on the 330i).

Also available is an Executive Package ($3,100; not available on the 320i) which includes automatic high beams, adaptive full LED lights, side and top view cameras, parking assistant, and a digital instrument cluster.

What BMW 3 Series Sedan Model Should I Buy?

Although the 320i and 328d are competent performers, the 330i provides the level of power that really allows you to exploit the capabilities of the 3 Series' chassis. The 328d, while offering admirable fuel efficiency, is simply outclassed by the 330i's breadth of performance. The Premium Package is appealing in offering navigation, a head-up display, and real-time traffic updates to really modernize the feel of the interior, plus heated seats are included. If ultimate performance is on the agenda, the pricey 340i with the Track Handling Package turns this luxury midsize sedan into a superb performer, the limits of which will need to be explored on a track.

2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan Comparisons

2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan
2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan

2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan vs Audi A4 Sedan

Audi's A4 offers an attractive blend of smart design, impeccable build quality, and a comfortable driving experience. The restrained, classy exterior is a match for the more angular 3 Series, but the A4's cabin wins with superior materials, a warmer ambiance, and more standard features than the BMW - heated seats, a sunroof, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, and a forward-collision warning system are all missing or optional on the 3 Series but standard on the A4. With standard front-wheel-drive, the basic A4 drives more smoothly but is less alert than the 3 Series in the corners. Both cars' steering systems lack feedback, but buyers prioritizing comfort won't mind. The 3 Series has the better automatic transmission, but the A4's manual gearbox is more pleasurable to operate than the 3 Series'. At this stage in their respective life cycles, the A4 just edges out the sportier 3 Series.

See Audi A4 Sedan Review

2018 BMW 3 Series Sedan vs Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan

The much improved Mercedes-Benz C-Class impresses long before you drive it for the first time. Inside and out, its striking but classy design has found favor with thousands of Americans. While the build quality of both cars is equally good, the C-Class cabin makes a far greater impression with its intricate shapes and stylish detailing. As has always been the case, the C-Class is the softer of the two cars and the 3 Series is a better handler, but the gap is closer than ever before. While the Mercedes may be more striking inside, BMW's infotainment system and various technologies are a lot simpler and more intuitive to operate. Both cars offer spacious interiors, are similarly practical, and provide comparable performance.

See Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan Review

BMW 3 Series Sedan Popular Comparisons

See All 29 Comparisons

2018 BMW 3 Series Video Review