BMW unveiled its new 2012 3-Series Friday. The latest 3-Series is the sixth generation of the upscale midsize car, and it goes on sale in February 2012.

The Detroit News says BMW has sold 12 million 3-Series models since it went on sale in 1975. “The car is key to BMW earnings because it has the highest sales volumes in its model lineup, with 399,000 sold last year, or 32.6 percent of unit sales,” The Detroit News reports.

Edmunds Auto Observer says, “The 3 Series carries even more of BMW’s load in one of the company’s biggest markets, the United States, where it currently represents 40 percent of the automaker’s total sales, according to’s calculations.”

The BMW 3-Series receives a few exterior changes for 2012, but shoppers may notice the new car is longer and slightly wider. BMW says in a statement it is about 3.6 inches longer than its predecessor, and its wheelbase is about 2 inches longer, along with a slight increase in width. The automaker says back seat passengers will notice the longer dimensions due to increased legroom. The 2012 3-Series is also 88 pounds lighter.

The 2012 3-Series is available in BMW’s three trim level categories: Sport Line, Luxury Line and Modern Line. “Two turbocharged engines will be offered, a new turbo four in the 328i and BMW’s familiar single-turbo six in the 335i,” Car and Driver reports. The turbo four produces 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, while the turbo six makes 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque.

Buyers can opt for either a standard six-speed manual transmission or optional eight-speed automatic on either engine. The new 3-Series is rear-wheel drive, and Car and Driver says that all-wheel drive won’t be available until summer 2012. Inside Line reports that a hybrid version, the ActiveHybrid 3, will be available in the fall of 2012. BMW hasn’t announced prices yet, but the 2011 3-Series starts at $34,600.

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