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2009 BMW 3-Series Review

The 2009 BMW 3-Series is highly acclaimed for its smooth engine options and agile suspension. It doesn’t have the roomiest back seat or trunk, but the 3-Series is a good choice if performance is your top priority.

Pros & Cons

  • Smooth manual transmission
  • Sporty, composed handling
  • Refined engine options
  • Finicky iDrive system




Critics' Rating: 9.8
Performance: 9.3
Interior: 8.0
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.5
Safety: 9.1
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2009 BMW 3-Series Overview

When it was new, critics said the 3-Series has a blend of performance and refinement that few competitors can match. Its available engines and transmissions, they said, are some of the smoothest available, and combine with its athletic suspension to make it one of the most compelling sport sedans available. The 3-Series is available in sedan, coupe and retractable hardtop convertible body styles, as well as a sport wagon and high-performance M3.

The rear-wheel drive 3-Series comes with three engines that distinguish trim levels. The base 328i has a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that makes 230 horsepower, while the 335i adds a turbocharger to the mix, raising the output to 300 horsepower. A turbodiesel-powered 335d is also available, which generates 265 horsepower and substantially more torque than its gas-powered siblings. You can select from a manual or automatic transmission on gas models, and many critics said that BMW makes some of the best manual gearboxes in the industry. The 328i sedan nets 18/28 mpg city/highway with either transmission, which is about average for the class. Opting for all-wheel drive or the more potent 335i drops fuel economy slightly. The 335d averages 23/36 mpg.

Inside, critics praised the 3-Series for its straightforward, high-quality cabin. Reviewers said the seats are very comfortable and supportive, although most said the rear seats could benefit from additional legroom. Maximum trunk space is 12 cubic feet, which is about average for the 3-Series’ closest competitors, but below that of other 2009 midsize cars. Bear in mind that the convertible’s retractable hardtop is stowed in the trunk, which cuts down on trunk space when the top is lowered. Standard equipment includes automatic climate control, a sunroof and a 10-speaker stereo. Option packages and upper trims add leather seats, rear parking sensors and navigation with BMW’s iDrive system, which most critics found difficult to use.

See the full 2009 BMW 3-Series specs »

Other Cars to Consider

A worthy alternative to the 2009 BMW 3-series is the 2009 Infiniti G. With a powerful engine and sport-tuned suspension, critics said the G37 is one of the closest-matched rivals to the 3-Series. Like the 3-series, the G37 is available in coupe, sedan and hardtop convertible body styles.

Other 2009 midsize cars worth considering are the 2009 Audi A4 and A5. Critics said the A4 sedan and A5 coupe have agile, refined handling and a high-quality, upscale interior. While they deliver ample power, most critics didn’t find their engines as potent and smooth as those from BMW. However, the A4 earns a better safety score.

Compare the 3-Series to the G and A4 »


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