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2019 BMW 3-Series: What You Need to Know

US News & World Report - Cars logo US News & World Report - Cars 1/31/2019 U.S. News & World Report
a car parked on the side of a mountain road: 2019 BMW 3-Series© BMW of North America, LLC 2019 BMW 3-Series

The BMW 3 Series is known as a driver's car, and the redesigned 2019 3 Series sedan continues that tradition. Among its improvements are a more powerful base engine, sharper handling, and more interior space. It places in the top half of our luxury small car rankings.

The 2019 BMW 3-Series is ranked:

Is the BMW 3 Series a Good Car?

Yes, the BMW 3 Series is a wonderful car. The new 3 Series generation launches for 2019 with the redesigned sedan. The Sports Wagon and Gran Turismo body styles carry over from last year with relatively few changes (their redesigns are expected to come for a later model year). This luxury small car’s strength is sporty performance. For 2019, it received some noteworthy enhancements, resulting in sharper handling, more precise steering, and a livelier base engine. The interior was also improved thanks to updated styling, new technology, and more room in the back seat and trunk.

Should I Buy the BMW 3 Series?

Shoppers in search of a small luxury car that's nimble and lively should definitely consider a BMW 3 Series. However, it isn't the only athletic car in this class worth considering. The Audi A5 is another fun-to-drive car. Its base engine feels robust, and you can step up to the 349-horsepower Audi S5 or 444-horsepower RS5 for more punch. If you prefer a swankier interior than what the 3 Series offers, consider a Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which has one of the poshest interiors in the segment.

Should I Buy a New or Used BMW 3 Series?

If you're in the market for a sports sedan, you should seriously consider a new BMW 3 Series. Following its redesign for 2019, critics say this car is head and shoulders above the previous generation. For shoppers looking for the Sports Wagon or Gran Turismo body styles, we recommend buying used. Their redesigned models are yet to come, so you can likely save money and get a car that's nearly identical to the 2019 models.

The current Sports Wagon and Gran Turismo models didn't join the 3 Series lineup until the 2014 model year, and there have been a few notable changes for these two body styles since then. For 2016, the 340i replaced the 335i, and for 2017, the BMW 330i replaced the BMW 328i. Apple CarPlay also became available that year, and a rearview camera became standard for 2018.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2017 and 2018 BMW 3 Series reviews to help make your decision. Also check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used cars.

We Did the Research for You: 12 Reviews Analyzed

Our BMW 3 Series review includes far more than just one person's opinion. We collected professional evaluations from more than 12 sources and combined them with concrete data like fuel economy estimates, safety features, and performance specs to help you make an informed buying decision.

Why You Can Trust Us

The Best Cars team – a division of U.S. News & World Report – has been reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007. With more than 75 years of combined automotive experience, our editors, writers, and analysts rank a wide variety of new and used cars and issue three annual awards: Best Cars for the Money, Best Cars for Families, and Best Vehicle Brands. To keep our recommendations unbiased, we decline expensive gifts from carmakers, and a third party handles our advertising.

How Much Does the BMW 3 Series Cost?

Starting prices for a 2019 BMW 3 Series are among the highest in the luxury small car class. The 330i sedan starts at $40,250. The other body styles cost about $5,000 more. The Sports Wagon has a base price of $45,000, and the Gran Turismo retails for $45,400.

You can see more information on vehicle pricing and standard features in our Which BMW 3 Series Model Is Right for Me? section below.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great deals at your local BMW dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our BMW deals page.

BMW 3 Series Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: BMW 3 Series or Mercedes-Benz C-Class?

The BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class are both good cars. While the BMW distinguishes itself with its sporty performance, the Mercedes stands out with one of the finest interiors in the segment. Top-shelf materials, excellent craftsmanship, and lots of standard features are among its highlights. Your choice depends on your personal preferences. 

Which Is Better: BMW 3 Series or Audi A4?

The Audi A4 isn't quite as exciting to drive as the 3 Series, so driving purists will want to stick with the Bimmer. That said, the A4 is still sporty, and it has a few advantages over the 3 Series. For example, it comes with more standard features, including leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a comprehensive suite of advanced safety features. Apple CarPlay is standard in the Audi, while it’s only available with a subscription service in the BMW. 

3 Series Interior

How Many People Does the 3 Series Seat?

The BMW 3 Series sedan seats five. The front seats have more power adjustments than they did in the previous generation, and the supportive cushions provide all-day comfort. The rear seats have more room to stretch out than before, and even tall passengers can sit there without feeling cramped. Most trims come standard with BMW's synthetic leather upholstery, though genuine leather upholstery is available, as are heated seats in the front and rear. 

3 Series and Car Seats

The LATCH hardware in the 3 Series consists of two sets of lower anchors and three tether anchors.

3 Series Interior Quality

For the most part, the redesigned 3 Series’ interior has a high-class appearance. Accenting the handsome styling are inlays of aluminum, burl walnut, or ash grain wood. The overall appearance is more muted than some rival cabins'. Although some might appreciate this understated approach, a few critics say the new design doesn't meet the upscale requirements of the class.

3 Series Cargo Space

Trunk space in the new 3 Series generation is an estimated 16.9 cubic feet, which is generous for a sedan this size. The Gran Turismo and Sports Wagon models provide even more space, at 24.6 and 27.5 cubic feet, respectively. Every body style comes with a 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat. A power trunk lid and a hands-free trunk lid are available.

3 Series Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The 330i sedan features the latest iDrive infotainment interface and a stunning 8.8-inch touch-screen display. The carry-over Sports Wagon and Gran Turismo models come standard with the previous iDrive interface and a 6.5-inch display screen. The new interface is decidedly better. It has a touch interface, a configurable home screen, and enhanced voice commands, nicknamed the Intelligent Personal Assistant. Its parlor tricks will be fun to show off – tell the car to "revitalize" you, and cool air comes on, the ambient light changes, and the stereo starts playing techno music – but not all test drivers were impressed by these gimmicks. Common complaints include that the personal assistant and gesture control features can be frustrating to use.

3 Series Performance

3 Series Engine: An Improved Base Engine  

BMW has rectified one of the regular criticisms of the previous 3 Series sedan by enhancing the base engine. The 330i sedan comes with a 255-horsepower four-cylinder engine. Acceleration is quick, and turbo lag is virtually nonexistent in this twin-turbo engine. The 248-horsepower four-cylinder and 322-horsepower six-cylinder carry over unchanged from 2018 and are also satisfying engines. All 3 Series models come with a slick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. The six-speed manual is not available for 2019.

3 Series Gas Mileage: Likely Near Class Average

The EPA does not yet have an estimated fuel economy rating for the 330i sedan. The 330i Gran Turismo and Sports Wagon, both of which have a different engine from the sedan, get 23 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. Those are typical ratings for a luxury small car.

3 Series Ride and Handling: Even Better Than Before

Among the updates for the redesigned 3 Series sedan is a more-responsive steering system and livelier handling across the board. Spirited drivers will enjoy this rear-wheel-drive sports sedan as it's one of the most agile in the class. Four drive modes come standard: Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system is available for $2,000 in the base sedan, and it comes standard in all other 2019 models.

3 Series Reliability

Is the BMW 3 Series Reliable?

The 2019 3 Series does not yet have a predicted reliability rating from J.D. Power.

BMW 3 Series Warranty

BMW covers its vehicles with a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty.

3 Series Safety

3 Series Crash Test Results

The 2019 3 Series has a five-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not yet released its safety ratings for this vehicle.

3 Series Safety Features

Standard safety features in the 3 Series include a rearview camera and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Some models may also come with front and rear parking sensors, speed limit info, a head-up display, a surround-view camera system, automatic high beams, adaptive LED headlights, active parallel and perpendicular parking assist, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, frontal collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and daytime pedestrian monitoring.

Which BMW 3 Series Model Is Right for Me?

As is typical of a BMW, the 3 Series is not lacking for variety. For 2019, BMW is offering this vehicle in three body styles: the four-door sedan, the Sports Wagon, and the hatchback-style Gran Turismo. The sedan is fully redesigned, while the Sports Wagon and Gran Turismo carry over with very few changes from 2018.

For little or no extra cost, you can build most trims with a Sport Line Design, Luxury Design, M Sport Design, or Shadow Sport Edition Design, with each set altering mostly the exterior styling. A few interior and technology upgrades are bundled into packages, which BMW lists as the Convenience Tier, Premium Tier, and Executive Tier. The high-performance Track Handling package adds variable sport steering and M-Sport brakes.

Each of the 3 Series' trims comes with a different powertrain. BMW is launching the 2019 model with a four-cylinder-powered 330i sedan. The carry-over Sports Wagon and Gran Turismo models come with slightly different versions of this engine, and the 340i Gran Turismo boasts a more powerful six-cylinder engine. Other models are expected to release later in the year, though BMW has not yet given a firm confirmation on additional 2019 models or release dates. Expected upcoming models include one or two diesel-powered models, the plug-in hybrid 330e iPerformance, and the high-performance M340i.

Shoppers in search of a 2019 3 Series should consider the 330i sedan. Professional reviewers say it's better than the previous-generation sedan and praise its lively turbocharged engine, crisp handling, and enhanced infotainment system. Plenty of packages and options are available, giving you lots of leeway to customize your 3 Series. Among these is the Premium package, which adds heated front seats, a navigation system, Apple CarPlay with a one-year subscription, and a head-up display.

BMW 330i

There are a few differences between the 2019 330i models. The redesigned 330i sedan starts at $40,250 and comes with a 255-horsepower turbocharged engine, 18-inch alloy wheels, three-zone climate control, a moonroof, an 8.8-inch infotainment display, and 10 speakers. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available for $2,000.

The all-wheel-drive 330i xDrive Sports Wagon ($45,000) and the all-wheel-drive 330i xDrive Gran Turismo ($45,400) are equipped with a 248-horsepower turbocharged engine. Standard features include a panoramic moonroof, a 6.5-inch infotainment display, a nine-speaker stereo system, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power trunk lid, and LED fog lights.

Standard features across the 330i lineup includes Sensatec upholstery (which is BMW's synthetic leather), power-adjustable front seats, HD Radio, ambient lighting, LED headlights, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror and driver's side exterior mirror.

BMW 340i

Although a 340i sedan is expected to join the 2019 lineup, this model is currently available only as the 340i xDrive Gran Turismo, which has a base price of $51,250. Under its hood is a 320-horsepower six-cylinder engine. This trim receives a few enhancements, including a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system, satellite radio, keyless entry, a Nappa leather-wrapped steering wheel, a hands-free trunk lid, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great deals at your local BMW dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our BMW deals page.

The Final Call

The fun-to-drive BMW 3 Series sedan gets even better for 2019. The redesigned 3 Series sedan returns to its performance-oriented roots with improved steering, suspension, and power. The cabin also gets some updates, including a revamped infotainment system. This interface is better than the previous iteration, though some elements can be buggy. Drawbacks are relatively minor, so anyone looking for a rousing small luxury car should take the redesigned sedan for a spin.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

Read the full 2019 BMW 3-Series review on U.S. News & World Report for more details, photos, specs and prices.

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