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2020 BMW 3-Series Review

The 2020 BMW 3 Series is one of the sportiest sedans in our luxury small car rankings, scoring in the top half of our list. It's nimble yet comfortable, with a roomy cabin and a spacious trunk. 

Pros & Cons

  • Energetic engines
  • Sporty handling and comfortable ride
  • Comfortable, spacious cabin
  • Large trunk for the class
  • Some tech features work inconsistently
  • Interior isn't quite as extravagant as some rivals'

New for 2020

  • Base trim gains more standard safety features
  • Performance-oriented M340i joins the lineup
  • Sports Wagon and Gran Turismo body styles no longer available

Rankings & Research

The 2020 BMW 3-Series's #7 ranking is based on its score within the Luxury Small Cars category. Currently the BMW 3-Series has a score of 8.0 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 19 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

8.0

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 7.8
Performance: 8.7
Interior: 6.7
Safety: 9.8
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Is the BMW 3 Series a Good Car?

Yes, the 2020 BMW 3 Series is a great car. Performance highlights include lively engines and responsive handling. This sports sedan is not only fun to drive, but it also won't leave you feeling beat up after a full day on the road, thanks to its well-balanced suspension system. It has few shortcomings, though, as some rivals best the 3 Series when it comes to interior extravagances and infotainment usability.

Should I Buy the BMW 3 Series?

The 3 Series sedan faithfully aligns with BMW's reputation for dynamic, balanced performance. Still, it isn't the only sports sedan in the class. The Alfa Romeo Giulia and Genesis G70 are among the top performers in our luxury small car rankings. It's also worthwhile to check out the Audi A4 for its cutting-edge technology, or if you want one of the nicest interiors in the segment, consider the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Compare the 3 Series, Giulia, and G70 »

Should I Buy a New or Used BMW 3 Series?

BMW redesigned the 3 Series sports sedan from the ground up for 2019. The 2020 model carries forward with relatively few changes, so you can likely save some greenbacks by shopping for a 2019 model. If you're eyeing the high-performance M340i, you'll have to buy a new BMW, as this variant is new for 2020.   

When it comes to body styles, powertrain choices, and performance editions, shoppers have a broader selection with the previous generation. For example, 2018 models are available as the Gran Turismo hatchback body style, the Sports Wagon, the 425-horsepower M3, the plug-in hybrid 330e iPerformance, and the diesel-powered 328d.  

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 3 Series and 2019 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.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 3 Series »

We Did the Research for You: 10 Reviews Analyzed

Our goal is to make shopping for your next car as easy as possible. You'll find everything you need to know about the 3 Series in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data (like fuel economy estimates, horsepower specs, and cargo space dimensions) with 10 professional BMW 3 Series reviews.

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?

For 2020, retail prices of the 2020 3 Series sedan start at $40,750. That's above the median price of a luxury small car by about $2,500. For more details on pricing, trim levels, and features, see 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 Audi A4?

The Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series are two excellent luxury small cars, so choosing between them depends on your priorities. Spirited drivers will likely prefer the performance of the BMW, which routinely earns praise for its responsive handling and peppy engines. The Audi is the better pick if value and interior amenities top your list. It comes standard with more goodies – including leather seats – and has exceptional safety and entertainment technology.

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

If slipping into a lavish luxury car sounds like a dream come true, you'll want to take a look at the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Hallmarks of its exquisite interior include real wood inlays, plush front seats, and lots of high-tech standard safety features. The base 330i wins out over the C300 when it comes to athletic performance, but Mercedes takes the lead when it comes to high-performance editions with its 503-horsepower AMG C 63 S. Mercedes also offers the choice between sedan, convertible, and two-door coupe body styles for the C-Class. Shoppers should sample both the Mercedes and the BMW to see which best fits their personality.

Compare the 3 Series, A4, and C-Class »

3 Series Interior

How Many People Does the 3 Series Seat?

The 2020 3 Series is available only as a four-door, five-seat sedan. The front seats have supportive cushions and a nice array of power adjustments, and the rear seats offer enough legroom for tall travelers. All models come standard with BMW's Sensatec synthetic leather upholstery. For a swankier cabin, check the options box for Vernasca leather seats, contrast stitching, or heated seats in the front and rear. 

3 Series and Child Car Seats

The back seat of the 3 Series has two complete sets of LATCH connections.

3 Series Interior Quality

The majority of the materials throughout the 3 Series cabin are of a high quality, and interior styling is handsome. This cabin isn't as opulent as some, though. A few lower-grade items are present, and some may find the design to be too minimalistic.

3 Series Cargo Space

The 3 Series sedan has a roomy 17-cubic-foot trunk. That's larger than most in the class offer, and it can carry an extra suitcase or two compared to the Audi A4 or Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedans. A fold-down rear seat is standard, and a power trunk lid or hands-free trunk lid are optional.

3 Series Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The 2020 3 Series comes with the best iDrive infotainment interface to date, though the system still has a few bugs. On the plus side, it has sharp graphics, a customizable home screen, and an available digital assistant that learns your habits to automate some settings. For example, if you like to warm up the seats when it's frosty outside, the optional Intelligent Personal Assistant (IPA, for short) will automatically turn on your heated seats when the temperature drops.

The voice commands are hit-or-miss, however, as are the optional gesture controls. Other available upgrades include an enhanced interface with a 10.25-inch display, a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system, and Apple CarPlay as a subscription service.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay?

Read more about interior »

3 Series Performance

3 Series Engine: Two Sporty Choices

For 2020, BMW offers two turbocharged engines for the 3 Series. The 330i comes with a 255-horsepower four-cylinder that enables this sports sedan to sprint from zero to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. It's lively and well-mannered, with no discernable lag or coarseness. Spirited drivers that can afford more will want the M340i xDrive. Its 382 horsepower six-cylinder engine shaves the car's zero-to-60 time to 4.1 seconds (the rear-wheel-drive model accomplishes this feat in a still-impressive 4.4 seconds). Complementing both engines is a smooth, responsive eight-speed automatic transmission.

3 Series Gas Mileage: Excellent

Rear-wheel-drive editions of the 330i get 26 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, which is one of the highest ratings among nonhybrid luxury small cars. Annual fuel costs are about $100 more on models outfitted with the xDrive all-wheel-drive system. At the time of this writing, fuel economy ratings are not yet available for the M340i.

3 Series Ride and Handling: Athletic Yet Comfortable

The 3 Series behaves just the way a proper sports sedan should. It's balanced and has responsive steering, and the suspension system keeps body movements in check without being so firm that you feel uncomfortable. Those who want to dial up performance should consider options like sport-tuned brakes, enhanced steering, and upgraded suspension systems. All models come standard with rear-wheel drive, and you can add xDrive (BMW's name for all-wheel drive).

Read more about performance »

3 Series Reliability

Is the BMW 3 Series Reliable?

The 2020 BMW 3 Series has a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

BMW 3 Series Warranty

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

Read more about reliability »

3 Series Safety

3 Series Crash Test Results

Crash test ratings are not yet available on the 2020 BMW 3 Series from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The 2019 sedan, which is nearly identical, was named a Top Safety Pick+ by the IIHS. That's the organization's highest safety designation.

3 Series Safety Features

A healthy number of advanced features has been added to the base 3 Series for 2020. In addition to a rearview camera and rain-sensing windshield wipers, this sports sedan now also comes with forward collision warning, pedestrian monitoring, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, adaptive headlights, and front and rear parking sensors.

Available safety features include adaptive cruise control with stop and go capability, a head-up display, adaptive LED headlights, automatic high beams, active parallel and perpendicular parking assist, a surround-view parking camera system, and lane departure warning.

Read more about safety »

3 Series Dimensions and Weight

The 3 Series is 15.5 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,589 to 3,968 pounds.

Where Is the 2020 BMW 3 Series Built?

BMW builds the 3 Series in Germany.

Which BMW 3 Series Model Is Right for Me?

The 3 Series currently comes in two trims – 330i and M340i – and is only available as a four-door sedan. The key differentiator between these trims is the engine, though the M340i also boasts a few interior upgrades.

Unless you can see yourself spending extra for a near-400-horsepower sports sedan, stick with the 330i. Its MSRP undercuts the M340i by more than $13,000. You can add almost any feature to the 330i, with the exception of the six-cylinder engine. Spirited drivers can keep their price below $50,000 and still get many sport-tuned components by adding on the M Sport package. BMW's wealth of available options gives you the power to customize your ride with the features you want while keeping your price in a comfortable range.

BMW 3 Series 330i

The 330i comes with a 255-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and 18-inch alloy wheels. Prices start at $40,750 with rear-wheel drive and $42,750 with xDrive all-wheel drive. This BMW's cabin features Sensatec upholstery (which is BMW's synthetic leather), 14-way power adjustable front seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, and a moonroof.

Standard technology in the base model includes an 8.8-inch infotainment display, a navigation system, the iDrive 6.0 interface, HD Radio, satellite radio, Bluetooth, USB ports, and 10 speakers. Also standard is an auto-dimming rearview mirror, front and rear parking sensors, forward collision warning, pedestrian monitoring, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and adaptive headlights.

There are three design collections to choose from, starting with the standard Sport Line. The Luxury offering costs $1,950 and adds chrome trim, ambient lighting, a sport steering wheel, and a Sensatec-upholstered dashboard. Highlights of the $5,200 M Sport include LED fog lights, an aerodynamic kit, and a sport-tuned suspension.

BMW 3 Series M340i

Under the hood of the M340i is a 382-horsepower turbocharged six-cylinder engine. Like the base model, the M340i comes as either a rear-wheel-drive sedan ($54,000), or the all-wheel-drive M340i xDrive ($56,000).

Standard high-performance components include M sport brakes, variable sport steering, the M Sport suspension system, an aerodynamic kit, and an M rear spoiler. This trim also gets a 10.25-inch touch screen, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a hands-free trunk lid. Its subscription-based Apple CarPlay includes one year of service.

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.

See 2020 BMW 3 Series specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2020 BMW 3 Series answers the call when it comes to responsive handling, lively acceleration, and curb appeal. It's a nicely balanced, fun-to-drive sports sedan that should be on any driving enthusiast's short list. This BMW belongs to a very competitive segment, though, and it's bested by a few rivals that have better technology or more luxurious interiors. At this price point, it's worth checking out high ranking luxury small cars such as the Audi A4, Genesis G70, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

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

  • "… this 7th-generation 3 Series also brings the latest technology and safety features. Performance ranges from good to great. The base 4-cylinder 330i, introduced last year, will satisfy buyers prioritizing the badge, while the new-for-2020 M340i that packs a 382-horsepower turbocharged 6-cylinder will attract the BMW faithful truly in it for the 'Ultimate Driving Machine' mission of the 3 Series." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The 2019 BMW 330i is better than the car it replaces in every measurable way: particularly from behind the wheel with boosts in power, improved steering feel, and … greater efficiency." -- Autoblog (2019)
  • … the 2019 BMW 3 Series isn't perfect. But it's a far more competitive product than before. An Audi A4 will still get you better onboard tech, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class truly feels like the most luxurious car in this space and only the Genesis G70 offers a manual transmission. But none of those can out-drive the BMW, and while an equivalent Alfa Romeo Giulia comes close, the 3 Series has the upper hand on chassis refinement and balance (and likely reliability, just saying)." -- CNET (2019)

Buying

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