Few cars are capable of serving the gods of both comfort and sportiness as well as the 2023 BMW 3-series sedan. This perennial favorite can be outfitted as a corner-carving sports sedan or a well-appointed entry-luxury car—or a combination of both. Its three available turbocharged powertrains deftly walk the line between power and polish. The entry-level 330i and plug-in hybrid 330e offer impressive performance with above average fuel economy, while the turbocharged inline-six in the top-dog M340i packs 382 of the biggest, strongest horses this side of the Bavarian Alps. The 3-series doesn’t have the style of the Alfa Romeo Giulia or the value-packed features list of the Genesis G70, but it’s so well-rounded, athletic, and engaging to drive that it stands at the very top of our segment rankings.
What’s New for 2023?
BMW’s quintessential sports sedan gets a tech-heavy makeover for 2023 that sees updated exterior styling and a dramatic new all-digital dashboard. Keen eyes will notice that this same monolithic display that stretches two-thirds of the 3-series’s dashboard is the same design as what you’ll find in the brand’s flagship 7-series and electric iX SUV. The wall of screens runs BMW’s iDrive 8 interface and includes standard navigation, a voice assistant, and a 5G Wi-FI hotspot.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We’d choose the turbocharged four-cylinder 330i for its surprising power and inherently nimble behavior. We would equip our example with the M Sport package that brings additional features, unique styling bits, and a specially tuned suspension. With it we’d choose the Premium package that includes hands-free passive entry, a head-up display, a heated steering wheel, and more. We’d also spring for the Dynamic Handling package that optimizes the sedan’s driving dynamics via adaptive dampers and upgraded brakes—and makes it feel closer to the memorable 3-series sedans of the past.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The 3-series offers two smooth and potent gas-powered engines. The 330i features a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, and acts like it has even more power than that. The M340i comes with a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six and a 48-volt hybrid system; total output is 382 ponies and 369 pound-feet. The 330e plug-in hybrid combines a turbo 2.0-liter engine with an electric motor that together generate 288 horses and 310 pound-feet. The plug-in powertrain offers a harmonious relationship between the gas and electric elements, and we like the Xtraboost function that provides a burst of power that feels like a small shot of nitrous. Each powertrain pairs with a telepathic and exceptionally smooth eight-speed automatic transmission and standard rear-wheel drive. You can power all four wheels for a price but no amount of money will get you a manual gearbox. Buyers can choose between several suspension setups on the 3: the base arrangement, the tauter M Sport tuning, or the Dynamic Handling package with its adaptive dampers. The four-cylinder Bimmer proved its worth by winning a comparison test against other sports sedans. We applauded its ability to transition from relaxed-and-refined to sharp- and-playful. The 330i also secured its spot at the top of its class by thwarting the gorgeous Alfa Romeo Giulia in a two-car comparo. Our long-term M340i further proves the nameplate’s return to form, with its ripping six-cylinder and remarkable body control.
More on the 3-series Sedan
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA estimates the four-cylinder 330i will earn up to 26 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The more powerful six-cylinder M340i has ratings that top out at 23 mpg city and 32 highway. The rear-drive, plug-in-hybrid variant has a combined estimate of 28 mpg and an all-electric range of 23 miles. Both figures drop by 3 for the all-wheel-drive PHEV. We tested a rear-drive 330i on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, and saw an impressive 42 mpg. Likewise, we conducted the same test with an all-wheel-drive M340i, which earned 33 mpg. For more information about the 3-series’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Inside, the 3 has a modern design complete with excellent materials and impressive build quality. Nothing feels cheap inside the 3-series, and its controls are well placed. The standard sport seats are well-bolstered and supportive, and they offer extensive adjustment so it’s easy to get comfortable. The car’s extra-cost content includes a detailed head-up display, customizable ambient interior lighting, heated front and rear seats, remote start, and wireless charging. The 3-series has a big trunk with an available power-operated deck lid. With 17 cubic feet of cargo space, the gas-powered sedan can fit six carry-on suitcases back there and 17 total with the rear row folded. For comparison, the Mercedes-Benz C300 sedan held one fewer suitcase in both tests and the Alfa Romeo Giulia could fit five and 15, respectively. The 330e has less trunk space (13 cubes) because of its battery pack, and we haven’t tested its carry-on capacity.
The Car and Driver Difference
Infotainment and Connectivity
Combined in a single panel, the 12.3-inch gauge display and 14.9-inch infotainment display float gently a top the 3-series’s dashboard. The high-resolution displays look great and are readable even in direct sunlight. BMW’s iDrive 8 interface is snappy and easy to navigate. A plethora of features are standard, including in-dash navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a 5G Wi-Fi hotspot; the optional Premium package adds a head-up display. A wireless smartphone charging pad is available, as is a Harman/Kardon stereo system.
How to Buy and Maintain a Car
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
BMW is skimpy when it comes to standard driver-assistance technology, providing only forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking. Other features are available, though. For example, the Parking Assistance package will practically park the car for you. For more information about the 3-series’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking
- Available lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control with a lane-centering feature
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
BMW’s limited and powertrain warranties align with those of rivals such as Audi and Mercedes-AMG. It provides longer complimentary maintenance than those two alternatives, but Genesis beats BMW with longer warranty terms.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for three years or 36,000 miles
2019 BMW 330i xDrive
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
PRICE AS TESTED
$58,770 (base price: $43,245)
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head
122 cu in, 1998 cc
255 hp @ 6500 rpm
295 lb-ft @ 1550 rpm
8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 13.0-in vented disc/13.0-in vented disc
Tires: Bridgestone Turanza T005 RFT, F: 225/40R-19 93Y R: 255/35R-19 96Y
Wheelbase: 112.2 in
Length: 185.7 in
Width: 71.9 in
Height: 57.0 in
Passenger volume: 95 cu ft
Trunk volume: 17 cu ft
Curb weight: 3709 lb
Zero to 60 mph: 5.2 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 13.9 sec
Zero to 130 mph: 28.5 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 6.4 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 3.2 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.9 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 13.9 sec @ 100 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 156 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 165 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.89 g
Observed: 23 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 28/25/34 mpg
DOWNLOAD TEST SHEET
More Features and Specs