Overview

Overview

The best-selling luxury car in America and the most lauded sport sedan ever, the 2013 BMW 3 Series sedan is joined this year by a redesigned 3 Series wagon that picks up the next-generation sedan design that debuted last year. Coupe and convertible models are not yet restyled. New for 2013 is an ActiveHybrid 3 model. Although more expensive than many rivals in its class, the 2013 BMW 3 Series offers powerful engines, good fuel economy, a roomy back seat (in sedans and wagons), and unrivaled handling. The plethora of options can cause prices to soar.

What Experts Think

The automotive press has salivated over the BMW 3 Series for literally decades. It's not for nothing that the German automaker touts the 3 Series as the "ultimate driving machine."

Here's what Kelley Blue Book has to say: "The iconic BMW 3 may be the industry's most benchmarked vehicle. Virtually all competing automakers - most notably Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Infiniti and Cadillac - have tried to match (or surpass) its beautifully balanced dynamics, upscale image and enthusiast appeal with luxosport compacts of their own, and some have come close. But none so far has quite bulls-eyed that elusive target."

Edmunds editors agree. "Regardless of body style, the 2013 BMW 3 Series is an impressively well-rounded and highly-desirable entry-level luxury car."

"The 3-series delivers on the sports-sedan promise; it's light on its feet, feels solid yet comfortable, and packs plenty of power, even with the base engine." (Car and Drier)

"Through sheer competence from decades of experience, the BMW 3 Series remains at the top of the segment and is still best-in-class by most measures." (Motor Trend)

"The BMW 3 Series continues to excel for its dynamic excellence, solid build quality, and surprising fuel efficiency. Alas, some cracks are beginning to appear in its armor. The 4-cylinder engine is not as smooth as we would expect, and on all models, the automatic transmission seems to hold back the engines from delivering on their full performance potential." (Consumer Guide)

What Owners Say

Not surprisingly, owners of the 2013 BMW 3 Series are quite vocal in their comments about the compact luxury car. User reviews posted on such sites as Kelley Blue Book, Yahoo Autos, Edmunds and others consistently hail the car's fun-to-drive nature, fantastic performance, fit and finish, "perfect size," exterior styling, luxury and, in the words of several owners, "everything."

There are some complaints, of course, not the least of which concerns auto start on/off functionality.  Owners also cite turbo lag, price, price of options, and the fact that a backup camera didn't come with the navigation system and leather seats aren't standard.

Also singled out is the BMW iDrive, which remains a complicated electronics interface. In the words of one owner, it takes some getting used to.

Model/Trim Lineup

The 2013 BMW 3 Series is available in sedan, coupe, hardtop convertible and wagon body styles. The sedan and wagon rest on the all-new platform developed for the 2012 BMW 3 Series sedan, while the coupe and convertible retain the previous-generation style.

The new base sedan model is the 320i, after which comes the 320i xDrive. Note that the xDrive all-wheel drive returns to the sedan lineup for 2013, a welcome addition. In ascending order, other sedan models include the 328i, 328i xDrive, 335i and 335i xDrive. Coupe models include 328i, 328i xDrive, 335i, 335i xDrive, and 335is. Convertible models include 328i, 335i, and 335is. The 2031 BMW 3 Series wagon only comes in 328i configuration. There is also an ActiveHybrid 3 model.

Standard equipment on the 328i includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, fog lights, dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, automatic wipers, auto-dimming mirrors, eight-way power front seats, driver memory functions, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leatherette premium vinyl upholstery, Bluetooth phone connectivity, the iDrive electronics interface and a premium nine-speaker sound system with CD player, HD radio, auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB interface. Standard Driving Dynamics Control offers ECO-PRO, Comfort and Sport settings.

The 328i coupe models have a sport-tuned suspension and manually-adjustable front seats. Convertibles have 10-way power front seats with memory and power retractable hardtops. Both coupe and convertible models sport adaptive xenon headlights and a 60/40-split-folding rear seat.

The wagon, which only comes as 328i, includes a power liftgate that functions with a wave of the foot under the bumper. Keyless entry/ignition is required.

Although they have unique powertrains, the 335i sedan and ActiveHybrid 3 are equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive and auto-leveling xenon headlights, automatic high beams, and a sunroof. Coupe and convertible models have 17-inch wheels and don't come with iDrive, LED running lights and automatic high beams.

The 335is coupe and convertible, meanwhile, boast an upgraded engine, sport exhaust, 18-inch wheels, a sportier suspension, sport seats and steering wheel, and unique styling elements.

Among the long list of optional equipment are two standout favorites of some in the automotive press: Parking Assistant and Surround View Camera. Another interesting one is a head-up display that projects key information in the driver's line of sight.

Performance

The 2013 BMW 3 Series 328i sedan and wagon are powered by a 240-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine. Rear-wheel drive is standard, while xDrive all-wheel drive is optional. The standard transmission is a six-speed manual. Sedan models have an optional eight-speed automatic, which is standard on the wagon. Both six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic transmissions are equipped with an auto stop-start function that saves fuel by turning off the engine when the car stops.

EPA-estimated fuel economy with the automatic setup is 23 mpg city/33 mpg highway/26 mpg combined. In manual transmissions, the numbers are 22/24/26 mpg city/highway/combined. According to most automotive reviews, these fuel economy numbers are exceptional for the class.

The 328i coupe and convertible come with a 230-horsepower 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine, rear-wheel drive and six-speed manual as standard. Six-speed automatic and xDrive all-wheel drive are optional. Regardless of transmission, EPA fuel economy estimates for the rear-drive coupe are 28/28/22 mpg.

Moving up to the 335i models, whether sedan or coupe, each get a 300-horsepower turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine - and the same choices of transmission and drivetrain as 328i versions.  As for EPA-estimated fuel economy, in the sedan with automatic, it is 23/33/26 mpg, and 20/30/23 mpg with the manual. Coupe with rear-wheel drive and manual transmission achieves 19/28/22 mpg, while automatic and all-wheel drive reduce those numbers by 1 or 2 mpg, depending on body style.

A twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine in the 335is delivers 320 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. A temporary overboost function increases max torque to 370 pound-feet. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while a seven-speed dual-clutch manual (dubbed DCT) is optional. Fuel economy is estimated at 18/26/21 mpg (manual) and 17/24/19 (DCT).

In the ActiveHybrid 3, the power comes from the pairing of the 335i's engine to the eight-speed automatic transmission, electric motor and a lithium-ion battery. The setup produces 335 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. Most reviewers find the 25/33/28 mpg fuel economy to be "disappointing" in that it is better than the others, but not by much.

Due to its new turbocharged four-cylinder engine, electrically-driven steering, all-new chassis and multiple drive settings, the 2013 BMW 3 Series sedan and wagon offer a different driving experience than the carryover coupe and convertible. According to the motoring press, the sedans provide a smoother ride, making them better at long-distance cruising.

Interior

The interior of the 2013 BMW 3 Series, according to the German automaker, is "straight out of the BMW design handbook." Kelley Blue Book says this translates to a look that is "uncomplicated... with tight fits, simple shapes and upscale materials."

The newer four-door models have four equipment line choices: Luxury, Modern, Sport and M Sport. In essence, these choices change the cabin trim type and color scheme for greater customization.

Controls are logically placed within easy reach, the build quality is excellent, and there's more legroom than before, especially in the back seat, thanks to the longer exterior on sedan and wagon models.

Reviewers comment that the iDrive (which is standard on all four-door models and included on two-doors with navigation) could be easier to use. It sometimes requires too many twists, turns, and clicks of the control knob to perform as expected on certain tasks. This may necessitate a learning curve that some may be unwilling to master.

Base-model seats are comfortable and supportive, while the sport seats are even more so. Trunk space in the sedan is 13.0 cubic feet, while the coupe sports average trunk space. The wagon has a maximum cargo capacity of 53 cubic feet, which prompted one reviewer to note this is more than the BMW X1 and roughly equal to the Audi Allroad.

Safety & Reliability

As you would expect in a compact luxury car, the 2013 BMW 3 Series comes standard with a full complement of safety equipment: antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. The sedan and wagon are also equipped with front knee airbags. The convertible doesn't have side curtain airbags, but the standard front-seat side airbags extend up to head level, plus there are pop-up rollover hoops.

The stability control system in the BMW 3 Series integrates a number of features designed to improve braking performance. These include periodically wiping the brake rotors dry (as long as the windshield wipers are in use) and automatically cinching in the pads to the rotors when the drive suddenly lifts off the throttle.

Optional BMW Assist emergency communications includes automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle recovery and on-demand roadside assistance. Blind-spot alert, front- and rear-obstacle detection and lane-departure warning are other optional safety features.

In government testing, the 2013 BMW 3 Series received a five-star overall crash test rating, with four stars in frontal impact safety and five stars for side and rollover protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the 2013 BMW 3 Series a Top Safety Pick, giving it a "Good" (the highest rating) in frontal-offset, side impact, rear crash protection and roof strength tests.

There is no reliability rating as yet for the 2013 BMW 3 Series, but in the Initial Quality Study by J.D. Power and Associates, which is based on owner-reported issues for the 2012 model year, the BMW 3 Series received an overall 4.0 overall initial quality Power Rating. Features and accessories quality-mechanical received a 5.0 rating, while powertrain quality-design and features and accessories quality-design received a 4.0 rating. Coming in at a 3.0 rating were: body and interior quality-mechanical, powertrain quality-mechanical, and body and interior quality-design.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
Convertible - RWD
328i Convertible 6 Cylinder RWD 47900
328i Convertible SULEV 6 Cylinder RWD 47900
335i Convertible 6 Cylinder RWD 54100
335is Convertible 6 Cylinder RWD 61100
Coupe - AWD
328i xDrive Coupe 6 Cylinder AWD 40400
328i xDrive Coupe SULEV 6 Cylinder AWD 40400
335i xDrive Coupe 6 Cylinder AWD 46800
Coupe - RWD
328i Coupe 6 Cylinder RWD 38700
328i Coupe SULEV 6 Cylinder RWD 38700
335i Coupe 6 Cylinder RWD 45100
335is Coupe 6 Cylinder RWD 52100
Sedan - AWD
320i xDrive Sedan 4 Cylinder AWD 34550
328i xDrive Sedan 4 Cylinder AWD 38850
328i xDrive Sedan SULEV 4 Cylinder AWD 38850
328i xDrive Sedan South Africa 4 Cylinder AWD 38850
328i xDrive Sedan SULEV South Africa 4 Cylinder AWD 38850
335i xDrive Sedan 6 Cylinder AWD 45150
335i xDrive Sedan South Africa 6 Cylinder AWD 45150
Sedan - RWD
320i Sedan 4 Cylinder RWD 32550
320i Sedan South Africa 4 Cylinder RWD 32550
328i Sedan 4 Cylinder RWD 36850
328i Sedan SULEV 4 Cylinder RWD 36850
328i Sedan South Africa 4 Cylinder RWD 36850
328i Sedan SULEV South Africa 4 Cylinder RWD 36850
335i Sedan 6 Cylinder RWD 43150
335i Sedan South Africa 6 Cylinder RWD 43150
ActiveHybrid 3 Sedan 6 Cylinder RWD 49650

Comparison of 2013 BMW 3 Series with Similar Cars

2013 BMW 3 Series MSRP Invoice
2013 BMW 3 Series $32,550 $29,945
Similar Cars to Consider MSRP Invoice Compare
2013 Audi A4 $32,500 $30,227 2013 BMW 3 Series VS 2013 Audi A4
2013 Cadillac CTS $38,905 $36,765 2013 BMW 3 Series VS 2013 Cadillac CTS
2013 Cadillac Ats $33,095 $31,275 2013 BMW 3 Series VS 2013 Cadillac Ats
2013 Volvo S60 $31,900 $29,986 2013 BMW 3 Series VS 2013 Volvo S60
2013 Audi A5 $37,850 $35,201 2013 BMW 3 Series VS 2013 Audi A5

Car Rankings

Interested to see how the 2013 BMW 3 Series ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2013 BMW 3 Series rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.

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