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2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan

$40,750 - $56,000
Price Range (MSRP)
BMW 3 Series Sedan

2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan Review: More Performance Than Ever

by Gabe Beita Kiser

The 3 Series has always held a reputation of being one the sportiest compact luxury sedans on the market. Although in recent years BMW's dominance hasn't been as comprehensive as it may once have been, the seventh generation 3 Series is a return to form, and with the arrival of the 2020 model year, we're greeted by a new performance derivative in the form of the M340i and M340i xDrive twins. They're no M3, but while the world waits with bated breath for a new full M car, these semi-M models will cater to the performance needs of 90% of the market. Against ever-improving rivals like the C-Class, and recently, the Alfa Romeo Giulia, BMW needs this 3 Series to be great. With two available engine choices, a turbo-four and the 3.0-liter turbo-six in the M340i, a high-quality interior, and exceptional day to day manners, things are looking good for the German marque.

Read in this review:

2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan Changes: What’s the difference vs 2019 3 Series Sedan?

Nothing changes for the BMW 330i models, but the new M340i brings back the German manufacturer's powerful inline six-cylinder engine. This model comes standard with many of the optional features available to the 330i, such as a sport-tuned suspension and upgraded safety and infotainment systems. The M340i also features a more aggressive exterior - signifying the heavier hand the M Division has had in its development.

Pros and Cons

  • Well designed and appointed interior
  • Two powerful engine choices
  • Athletic handling
  • Spacious trunk
  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Infotainment is not user-friendly
  • Driver-assist features aren't intuitive
  • No manual transmission offered

3 Series Sedan Exterior

The 2020 BMW 3 series still has the older, smaller twin-kidney grille, and rolls on 18-inch V-spoke bi-color wheels as standard. It is longer and wider than the previous generation but boasts sleek lines that make it seem slimmer than it is. Adaptive LED headlights are fitted, as are power-folding, heated side mirrors and blue design elements. Shadowline and chrome line exterior trim options are available. The M340i gets more aggressive front and rear fascias, akin to what the M Sport package would provide.

2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan Front View
2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan Rear View
2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan Front Angle View
See All 2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The BMW 3 Series sedans are long and wide, as you'd expect from a luxury car, but not overly tall, lending themselves to more athletic driving dynamics. The car measures 185.7 inches long, 71.9 inches wide, and 56.8 inches tall, with a 112.2 inch wheelbase that gives the cabin plenty of room in the back for passengers and cargo. The base 330i weighs in at 3,589 lbs, with the all-wheel drivetrain adding 183 lbs. The new M340i, with its larger engine and sport-tune suspension, comes in a little heavier at 3,849 lbs, while the xDrive M340i is 3,968 lbs.

Exterior Colors

Twelve color choices make up the palette for the 330i models, with Alpine White and Jet Black being the free standard paint color. For $550, you can choose from the metallic range, which comprises Black Sapphire, Melbourne Red, Glacier Silver, Mineral White, Mineral Grey, Mediterranean Blue, Sunset Orange, Vermont Bronze, Portimao Blue (which requires the addition of the M Sport Pack for the 330i), and Blue Ridge Mountain. The M340i has a palette of nine colors and comes standard in Alpine White. The $550 metallic range includes Black Sapphire, Mineral White, Mineral Grey, Sunset Orange, and Portimao Blue. Two premium colors are available for $1,950, Dravit Grey Metallic and Tanzanite Blue II Metallic.

  • Black Sapphire Metallic
  • Mineral White Metallic
  • Mineral Grey Metallic
  • Sunset Orange Metallic
  • Portimao Blue Metallic
  • Mineral Gray Metallic
  • Melbourne Red Metallic
  • Glacier Silver Metallic
  • Mediterranean Blue Metallic
  • Vermont Bronze Metallic
  • Blue Ridge Mountain Metallic
  • Dravit Grey Metallic
  • Tanzanite Blue II Metallic
  • Alpine White
  • Jet Black

3 Series Sedan Performance

Equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the 330i and 330i xDrive deliver a degree of performance not easily matched in the small luxury sedan segment. The rear-wheel-drive model is capable of reaching 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, while the all-wheel-drive variant does the same 0.3 seconds faster. But if you want truly exceptional performance, you will want to go for the sporty M340i or its xDrive option. These M Performance models, specially tuned for athleticism, can make the 0 to 60 mph sprint in 4.4 or 4.1 seconds, respectively. To put these times into perspective, segment rivals like the Audi A4 achieves a 5.6-second sprint (the S5 even quicker), while the Mercedes C-class manages the effort in 5.7 seconds. The C43 - a direct rival to the M340i achieves a 4.5-second sprint.

2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan Front View Driving
2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan Rear View Driving
2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan Engine

Engine and Transmission

Two engines are offered with the 3 Series: a 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline-four that delivers 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, and a 3.0-liter turbo-six making 382 hp and 369 lb-ft.

For the 330i and 330i xDrive, the 2.0-liter motor sends power to the rear wheels in the former derivative, and to all four wheels in the latter. The engine is mated to a refined eight-speed automatic transmission that gives the vehicle excellent fuel economy and seamless shifts. While these figures are not over the top, they are certainly enough to give the small sedan plenty of pep on the road. With its impressive acceleration and willingness, almost eagerness, to jump into the higher revs, this powertrain allows for effortless merging and passing on the highway.

The sporty M340i comes equipped with the potent 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine that directs power to the rear wheels, or to all four wheels on the M340i xDrive. This, too, is mated to the same eight-speed automatic gearbox, which brings this thirsty engine down to around the same fuel economy stats as some non-sport-focused rival sedans. With the power offered by this inline-six, red lights are just minor annoyances, as you get back up to speed within seconds of pull-off, and other drivers will look like they're standing still as you pass them on the highway.

  • Engines
    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

As one of the sportiest luxury small sedans on the market, the BMW 3 Series doesn't disappoint once you're behind the wheel. Even the base model 330i comes with more than enough power to give you a thrill around town, but especially on the open road with just the right amount of twists and turns. Plenty of torque is on hand right from the get-go, meaning zipping between intersections around town is a breeze, and even though it is a luxury sedan, the 3 Series is small enough to nimbly weave through traffic and park without too much stress - even without all the handy parking aids.

The steering is light and precise, at least when Comfort mode is enabled, but flip the Sport switch, and you'll find the wheel delivering just the right amount of resistance to really draw you into the driving experience. Few luxury sedans really let you know what the wheels are doing, and the 3 Series is no different, failing to communicate effectively.

When it comes to handling, the 3 Series feels even smaller than it actually is, being quick, agile, and eager to respond to driver input. It is still by no means a true sports car, but it emulates the experience quite well. If you opt for the available M suspension or upgrade to the M340i, which comes with it standard, don't be surprised if you find yourself pushing the limits with the sleek little sedan. Heck, you may even find it encouraging you to do so, as it relaxes it's built-in safety features when in the Sport Mode setting.

Perhaps the biggest shortcoming in the sedan is its road comfort. The chassis is a bit stiff for a luxury vehicle, meaning that far too many road abrasions make themselves known to the occupants, despite the plush seating appointments. At least noise is well-dampened thanks to some innovative insulation and sound-resistant windows.

3 Series Sedan Gas Mileage

Fuel economy is impressive across the 3 Series range, but especially so on the base 330i, which gets an EPA-estimated 26/36/30 mpg over the city/highway/combined cycles. Switching to the xDrive will drop these figures slightly to 25/34/28 mpg. The performance-focused M340i and its xDrive variant get a less impressive 22/30/25 mpg. These figures are more in line with competitors like the Audi S4, which manages 21/30/24 mpg. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class C300 comes quite close to the base 330i, averaging 24/35/28 miles per gallon. With a 15.6-gallon tank at its disposal, the BMW 3 can cover up to 468 miles between gas station stops. The cost-efficiency of these models is somewhat hindered by their reliance on premium gasoline.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    15.6 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 26/36 mpg
* 2020 BMW 3 Series 330i Sedan

3 Series Sedan Interior

The cabin is well-designed and built, but that's nothing special for the segment. As a luxury vehicle, this is to be expected and, for the most part, BMW delivers. However, rivals like Mercedes and Audi manage to outclass the 3 Series when it comes to plushness and features. Still, the BMW sedan comes equipped with most of what you'd expect, and the manufacturer's loyalty to rotary controls earns it some love from old-school buyers who may find touchscreens a bit finicky, although the infotainment may still take some time to get used to. Overall, the 3 Series delivers well in enough areas to make the title of luxury sedan appropriate.

2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan Dashboard
2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan Central Console
2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan Central Console
See All 2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

Although there is space for five, the BMW 3 Series, with its comfortable seats upholstered in synthetic leather, is ideally meant for four passengers. There is plenty of space in the front for drivers of any size, and even the rear seats can accommodate full-size adults without too much difficulty thanks to the longer wheelbase. The power adjustability of the front seats means that finding the right driving position is easy, but overall visibility is somewhat hindered by the sedan's frame. Entering and exiting the vehicle is easily accomplished thanks to the wide-opening doors and bountiful head clearance.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

As is the German manufacturer's way, the interior of the BMW 3 series is plushly appointed. SensaTec faux-leather comes standard on both variants, 330i and M340i. Color choices comprise Black for both, with Canberra Beige available for the 330i. Vernasca leather upholstery is available at extra cost, in Black, Mocha, or Black with Blue contrast on both models. Dual-tone Canberra Beige/Black is exclusive to the 330i, while the M340i offers Oyster and Cognac. The list of available trim styles is shared by both sedan models and comprises fine wood, open-pore fine wood Maple, open-pore fine wood Oak grain, aluminum and aluminum tetragon.

3 Series Sedan Trunk and Cargo Space

Cargo room is quite abundant for a small sedan, with 17 cubic feet provided in the trunk. This is on par with the Audi A4, and about two cubes more than what is available in the Mercedes C-Class. With this much space, even this small sedan easily takes on the tasks of a mid to full-size daily driver, accommodating shopping, luggage, and even some larger items without too much difficulty - assuming they are able to fit the somewhat confined dimensions of a conventional trunk. If you do wish to pack bulkier items, the rear seats can be folded down in a 40/20/40 split to make a bit more room.

While the console area may not supply the various cupholders and small-item trays that many expect these days, there is a small compartment just in front of the shifter, and the center console armrest provides enough space for larger items. There is a standard glove compartment in the dashboard, and the door pockets are quite spacious, giving room for water bottles with space to spare.

2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan Trunk Space
2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan Trunk Space
2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan Maximum Cargo Space
  • Trunk Volume
    17 ft³

3 Series Sedan Infotainment and Features

Features

Standard features on the base-model 330i comprise a rearview camera, tri-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, cruise control, keyless ignition, a power sunroof, 14-way power front seats, 40/20/40 split fold-down rear seats, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning with pedestrian alert, driver alert and BMW Assist. The M340i models add four-way power lumbar adjustment and two-way power side bolsters to the seats, as well as keyless entry, a head-up display, and a 12.3-inch instrumentation display. Available features include active blind-spot monitoring, heated front/rear seats and steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, a parking assistant, front cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist and a surround-view camera.

Infotainment

The infotainment suite on the 3 Series is quite advanced, albeit a bit clunky, but it still falls behind several competitors. Standard equipment comprises an 8.8-inch touchscreen display, navigation, HD Radio, Bluetooth hands-free and audio streaming, two USB ports, a 10-speaker sound system, and subscription-based Apple CarPlay. The touchscreen is upgraded to a 10.25-inch model on the M340i trims. Optional features include a wireless charger, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.

3 Series Sedan Problems and Reliability

J.D. Power has not rated the new BMW 3 Series for reliability, but since its release, it has only been recalled once in 2019 for faulty knee airbags. BMW offers a full warranty and powertrain warranty for 50,000-miles/48-months, while roadside assist is offered for unlimited miles over a 48-month period.

3 Series Sedan Safety

The 2020 model has not yet been rated for safety by either the NHTSA or the IIHs. However, with no mechanical changes for the new year, the IIHS' rating of Good for 2019 should carry over. It also received the organization's Top Safety Pick+ award for 2019.

Key Safety Features

The standard safety suite comprises a rearview camera, rain-sensing wipers, four-wheel ABS, brake assist, electronic stability control, traction control, forward collision warning with pedestrian alert, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, driver alert, BMW Assist, and six airbags: dual front, front side, and side curtain. Available features include lane keep assist, steering and lane control assistance, a surround-view camera, a head-up display, and a parking assistant.

Verdict: Is the 2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan a good car?

Asking this of any BMW is usually a moot point, but this is especially the case when it comes to the 3 Series. Each model in the line-up is a great car in its own right, but the new M340i trim is an absolute delight for anyone who enjoys a bit of a thrill but doesn't want to sacrifice the practicality of a daily-driver sedan completely.

It's true that the suite of safety features is a little bare compared to rivals, and that the infotainment will give you a headache until you get used to its nuances, but the 3 Series more than makes up for this with its spacious interior and large trunk, especially for a small luxury sedan. That alone may not be enough to catapult any car into the lead, but the BMW does that with its impressively powerful engines, athletic acceleration, and nimble handling.

At a starting price of $40,750, the 330i may not be an everyman's car, but it can certainly be an everyday car for those who can afford it. And it won't ever feel like a poor investment as it brings you surprising joy, even if you just need to pop into town for grocery shopping. But out on the open road, it comes as close to a sports car experience as any non-sports car could hope to be. And if you are willing to lay down a little extra cash, you can find an even more engaging drive in the M340i.

For those who seek even greater thrills, it may be worth your time to wait and see what the future holds for the M3, but if you want an enjoyable driving experience in an affordable small sedan, the 3 Series won't leave you disappointed.

What's the Price of the 2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan?

As a premium luxury sedan, the 3-Series comes in on the pricier side, but it's on a par with other luxury rivals like the Mercedes C-Class and the Audi S4. Getting behind the wheel of the 330i will cost you $40,750. The sportier, although still not quite performance-level, M340i is significantly more expensive at $54,000. Each model offers an xDrive variant that costs an additional $2,000 for all-wheel-drive configuration. These prices exclude tax, registration, licensing, and BMW's $995 destination fee.

2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan Models

BMW offers the 3 Series in four trim levels: 330i, 330i xDrive, M340i, and M340i xDrive. The 330i models are powered by a turbocharged inline-four engine that displaces 2.0-liters to produce 255 hp and 295 lb-ft. While rear-wheel-drive is standard on the 330i, the xDrive comes with all-wheel-drive. The M340i models are new this year, and bring with them a powerful 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine that delivers 382 hp and 369 lb-ft. As with the 330i, rear-wheel-drive is standard on the M340i with all-wheel-drive equipped to the xDrive variant. An eight-speed automatic transmission controls gear shifts on every model.

The 330i and 330i xDrive come standard with 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, a rearview camera, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power accessories, keyless ignition, tri-zone climate control, cruise control, an 8.8-inch touchscreen, navigation, a 10-speaker sound system, Apple CarPlay, 14-way power front seats, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning and BMW Assist.

The M340i and M340i xDrive expand on this offering with a 10.25-inch touchscreen, a head-up display, power lumbar and side bolsters for front seats, and a 12.3-inch instrumentation display, and standard M Performance suspension, brakes, and styling.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
330i Sedan
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
$40,750
330i xDrive Sedan
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$42,750
M340i Sedan
3.0-liter Turbo Inline-6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
$54,000
M340i xDrive Sedan
3.0-liter Turbo Inline-6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$56,000
See All 2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

The Premium Package ($4,700) for the 330i adds heated front seats, an active driving assistant, active blind-spot detection, park distance control, a head-up display, live cockpit pro, connected package pro, full LED headlights, comfort access keyless entry, a heated steering wheel, SiriusXM and lumbar support. The active driving assistant has a pro variant, and the heated front seats can be upgraded to include the rear seats. The same package for the M340i models costs only $1,400 and adds heated front seats, an improved head-up display and a heated steering wheel. As with the 330i version, heated seats can be upgraded to include the rear seats.

The Executive Package ($2,100) for the M340i comprises automatic high beams, gesture control, icon adaptive LED headlights with laser lights and parking assistant plus.

What BMW 3 Series Sedan Model Should I Buy?

While a $14k bump in price may seem pretty significant, it's hard to put a price tag on the enhanced driving experience offered by the M340i trims. Equipped with a superb turbocharged six-cylinder engine, and excellent handling characteristics, these models offer a degree of fun that few luxury sedans can rival. The head-up display and larger infotainment screen don't hurt either. While the M340i models may still be lacking when it comes to some advanced safety features, these can be added without the price skyrocketing over the $60k mark.

Check out other BMW 3 Series Styles?

2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan Comparisons

2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan
2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan

2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan vs Audi A4 Sedan

The A4 comes in several thousand dollars cheaper than the BMW 3 Series, but you wouldn't think so looking at it, especially on the inside. The Audi is packed with tech features, both infotainment and safety, but this technophilic attitude doesn't overwhelm the stylishly designed cabin, with its upscale materials and excellent build quality. It doesn't hurt that the onboard technology, while more advanced, is even easier to use than the BMW's. The exterior design is a bit more muted than the 3 Series', and it doesn't handle quite as well on the road. If you want a well-appointed everyday vehicle, the Audi A4 is a solid choice, but it won't present you with as many opportunities for fun. What it really comes down to is, do you want a fun ride or a comfortable one?

See Audi A4 Sedan Review

2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan vs BMW 5 Series Sedan

The 5 Series falls into the mid-size sedan segment, while the 3 Series is a small sedan. Naturally, this comes with several pros and cons. The 5 Series is going to cost you quite a bit more, but in return, you get a substantial amount of extra room in the cabin, as well as a few extra cubic feet of trunk space. The seats are more comfortable, and several extra tech features come standard. However, it isn't as nimble as the smaller sedan and, unless you equip the twin-turbocharged V8, it won't feel as powerful as the lighter 3 Series, although lesser derivatives are only a few tenths slower than their 3 Series counterparts. If you are willing to load up the 5 Series fully, you will find it to be an even more powerful and thrilling drive than its little brother; but, nothing can reduce the overall size of the vehicle, meaning that it might not deliver as much driver engagement and it will struggle more with nimble traffic maneuvers around town and in parking lots.

See BMW 5 Series Sedan Review

BMW 3 Series Sedan Popular Comparisons

2020 BMW 3 Series Video Reviews