2011 BMW 3-Series Wagon Performance

#5 out of 12 in 2011 Wagons

$9,970 - $11,011

2011 BMW 3-Series Wagon Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 BMW 3-Series Wagon was new.


Performance: 9.1

Reviewers find that the BMW 3-Series's engine operates smoothly and provides a good amount of power for daily driving. Plus, its handling dynamics set a benchmark for the entire class.

  • "Quite simply, no other entry-level luxury model can match the 3 Series' exquisite combination of athletic handling and premium ride comfort." -- Edmunds
  • "BMW's 3-series wagon delivers the same dynamic excellence as the 3-series sedan but with a bigger cargo area. The steering, poise, and handling are nearly unparalleled in any vehicle, much less other wagons. All-wheel drive and a fuel-sipping turbo-diesel engine are optional." -- Car and Driver

Acceleration and Power

Both the BMW 328i and 328i xDrive feature a 3.0-liter I6 engine that test drivers find is smooth and adequate. It generates 230 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 200 pound-feet of torque at 2,750 rpm. Though a six-speed manual transmission is standard, a STEPTRONIC automatic is optional.

According to the EPA, the 3-Series wagon's city/highway fuel economy ranges from 17/25 mpg to 18/27 mpg, depending on trim and transmission.

  • "In the BMW tradition, this inline-6 is velvety-smooth from idle to redline, yet the tailpipes emit a purposeful bark under hard acceleration." -- Edmunds
  • "The 3 liter DOHC 24-valve inline six-cylinder engine sounds good and is adequate. Not a 4.4 liter powerhouse or a V10 extravaganza but for 99% of potential customers it is just fine. OK, you will not win the traffic light grand prix but how important is that with three kids and a trunk full of shopping, soccer boots and Gatorade?" -- The Auto Channel
  • "With manual transmission, the rear-drive 328i has smooth, sufficient power for around-town driving and highway passing.  ... The 6-speed automatic changes gears smoothly, but downshifts can lag behind throttle inputs.  ... With any engine, the manual transmission has silky-smooth shift action." -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

Test drivers, on balance, agree that the BMW 3-Series wagon shines most brightly in the category of handling -- especially the 328i xDrive, which features a standard all-wheel drive system that enhances stability in adverse driving conditions.

  • "The performance numbers are impressive in themselves, but this car transcends them -- it feels even more confident and composed than those numbers suggest." -- Edmunds
  • "The 3-Series is the class benchmark for overall control and steering feel. Even with the base suspension, all models display excellent balance, sharp moves, and little body lean in turns; they're even sharper with the sport suspension.  ... Braking is powerful and stable. We recommend AWD in snowy climates." -- Consumer Guide
  • "There's a precise feel to the steering and the well-sorted suspension provides exceptional confidence through even the most challenging corners. While some may find the ride a tad too taut -- particularly when fitted with the optional Sport Package -- we think the handling advantages more than offset any minor comfort tradeoff. BMW's excellent xDrive all-wheel-drive system also makes dealing with inclement weather considerably less stressful." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "I think Mike liked the fact that the wagon handles like a sport sedan. In fact, the wagon has just about all the same equipment, which means that the steering is pinpoint-precise, the suspension is supple and the brakes are simply outstanding. Of course, you get all the standard BMW goodies, like dynamic stability and traction control, to further enhance the all-weather capability of the four-wheel-drive system." -- Detroit News

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