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2022 BMW 3 Series

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 8/4/2021 Motor Trend Staff

Pros

  • Surprisingly large trunk
  • Newly standard digital gauge display
  • Strong powertrains; sharp handling

Cons

  • Common driver aids are extra cost
  • Lackluster interior design
  • Uncomfortable M Sport suspension

As it closes in on five decades in production, the BMW 3 Series maintains standard-setter status among compact luxury sport sedans. Now in its seventh generation, the current G20 3 Series debuted for the 2019 model year. As always, it aims to balance performance, luxury, and technology to provide drivers with a signature BMW experience. For 2022 it's available in different performance levels topping out with the legendary M3, or as a plug-in hybrid. Despite its continued influence, the 3 Series doesn't place near the top of our luxury compact sedan rankings.

What's New

  • Digital gauge display now standard on all models
  • Ambient interior lighting; wireless charger are removed as standalone options
  • Laser LED adaptive headlights; dark Shadowline exterior trim added as standalone options
  • 330e gains ambient interior lighting, LED headlights with cornering lights, upgraded Bluetooth, and optional power trunklid
  • Leatherette dashboard trim removed from M340i
  • Glacier Silver and Blue Ridge Mountain paints removed; Oxide Grey and Aventurin Red paints added
  • Standard leatherette upholstery is now perforated; gains red and tan color choices
  • Beige/black and tan leatherette upholstery removed; red and brown colors added
  • Various package content adjustments depending on trim level

What We Think

Although 3 Series is still one of the most recognizable nameplates in the luxury compact sedan segment, the car no longer leads among small sporty four doors. The car feels like it's trying to be too many things at once.

In terms of being a luxury car, the 3 Series passes muster. The interior is roomy and feels built to a high standard of quality. However, it seems like BMW tries to distract from the cabin's austere design and sometimes chintzy materials with gimmicky tech features.

Performance is where the 3 Series preserves its heritage. Regardless of engine it accelerates well, brakes confidently, and steers with impressive precision. But we wonder if it's been built to cater to an adolescent understanding of sportiness. Check the too-thick steering wheel, brutally stiff M Sport suspension, or M3's horrific styling as evidence.

Even as cars lose favor to crossovers, the 3 Series remains a standard setter among compact luxury sedans. Either the car isn't as good as it once was, or the segment has simply caught up. In its attempt to be more things to more people, the 3 Series has ceded position to vehicles more decided in their missions.

Performance and Fuel Economy

Every 3 Series model is RWD as standard, and offers xDrive AWD as an option. An eight-speed automatic transmission is mandatory except for in the M3, which can be had with a six-speed manual.

2022 BMW 330i

Drivetrain: RWD or AWD

Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4

Horsepower/Torque: 255 hp/294 lb-ft

Efficiency (city/highway): 26/36 RWD; 25/34 AWD

Acceleration (0-60 mph): 5.4 seconds RWD; 5.5 seconds AWD

2022 BMW M340i

Drivetrain: RWD or AWD

Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharged I-6

Horsepower/Torque: 382 hp/368 lb-ft

Efficiency (city/highway): 23/32 mpg RWD; 22/31 AWD (est. )

Acceleration (0-60 mph): 4.2 seconds RWD


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2022 BMW 330e

Drivetrain: RWD or AWD

Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 and electric motor

Horsepower/Torque: 288 hp/310 lb-ft

Efficiency (city/highway): 28 mpg, 75 mpg-e RWD; 25 mpg, 67 mpg-e AWD (est. )

Range (miles): 23 RWD; 20 AWD (est. )

2022 BMW M3

Drivetrain: RWD

Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharged I-6

Horsepower/Torque: 473 hp/409 lb-ft

Efficiency (city/highway): 16/23 mpg RWD; 15/22 mpg AWD (est. )

2022 BMW M3 Competition

Drivetrain: RWD or AWD

Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharged I-6

Horsepower/Torque: 503 hp/479 lb-ft

Efficiency (city/highway): 16/23 mpg RWD; 15/22 mpg AWD (est. )

Acceleration (0-60 mph): 3.5 seconds RWD

Does BMW Make a 3 Series Coupe?

BMW used to make a 3 Series coupe, sold alongside the 3 Series sedan. Then, for the 2014 model year, it spun off the two-door into its own model called the 4 Series. Now in its second generation, the 4 Series is mechanically similar to the 3 Series, sharing fundamental hardware, powertrains, and features. The main differences are styling, the coupe-like four-door body style, and an optional folding roof on the convertible. Check out our 2022 BMW 4 Series Buyer's Guide for a full breakdown.

Safety Ratings and Features

From the NHTSA, the 3 Series earns a five-star overall safety rating, the highest possible score. We expect the current 3 Series to carry the 2021 Top Safety Pick designation it received from the IIHS last year, which also gave it the highest Good score in all six crashworthiness tests.

Standard driver-assist and active safety features include forward automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, and automatic windshield wipers. Systems like adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring is optional.

Cargo Space and Interior Room

The 3 Series provides passenger space typical for a compact luxury sport sedan, coming within about an inch to measurements in the 2022 Audi A4. However, the 3 Series' large trunk helps make it more practical than its competitors.

Cargo space (trunk):

2022 3 Series: 17.0 cubic feet

2022 A4: 12.0 cubic feet

Headroom (first/second rows):

2022 3 Series: 38.7/37.6 inches

2022 A4: 37.3/37.4 inches

Legroom (first/second rows):

2022 3 Series: 42.0/35.2 inches

2022 A4: 41.3/35.7 inches

Technology

For 2022, every 3 Series is equipped with a 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen and 12.3-inch fully digital gauge display, which were previously standard only on higher-end models. All have Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, and built in GPS. Two USB ports in the front row are standard; a front-row wireless charger and second-row USB ports are available. The base 10-speaker audio can be replaced by an available 16-speaker Harman Kardon premium system. Other technology options include a 360-degree parking camera system, semi-autonomous parking assist system, a head-up display, and infotainment gesture controls.

Recommended Trim

We get the temptation to buy a sporty M-badged 3 Series, but our pick has a letter that's relatively new in the BMW lexicon. The 330e plug-in hybrid supplements the basic 2.0-liter turbo-four engine with an electric motor for improved power and efficiency. The sedan's 20-23 mile all-electric range could make a big difference for some drivers, particularly city dwellers. That it can run in electric mode at speeds up to 87 mph makes fuel-free driving more attainable. Pricing for the 330e makes it seem like the logical choice. Starting at about $43,000, it's less than $1,000 more expensive than the basic 330i. After that model, there's a jump of over $10,000 to get the M340i. For the versatility, features, and performance it provides at that price, the 330e plug-in hybrid is our pick of the 2022 3 Series range.

Other Luxury Compact Sedans:

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