Pros & Cons

  • Potent engines
  • Fantastic handling
  • Comfortable front seats
  • Strong safety ratings
  • Cramped back seat




Critics' Rating: 9.6
Performance: 9.4
Interior: 7.9
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.6
Safety: 9.6
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2011 BMW 3-Series Overview

When it was new, critics loved the 2011 BMW 3-Series for its agile, refined ride and smooth, responsive engines – traits that make it a perennial reviewer favorite. The 3-Series is available as a sedan, coupe or hardtop convertible. The 3-Series wagon and high-performance M3 are reviewed separately. The BMW 3-Series also has great safety ratings.

The 3-Series’ available engines denote trim level. The base 328i’s engine makes 230 horsepower, while the turbocharged 335i produces 300 horsepower. The base 328i sedan earns a fuel economy rating of 18/28 mpg city/highway. Buyers can select either a manual or automatic transmission as well as rear- or all-wheel drive. A fuel-efficient diesel model with 425 pound-feet of torque is also available, with a fuel economy rating of 23/36 mpg city/highway. Critics liked all of the available engines, but especially the gas-powered 335i and the diesel. The 3-Series sedan can carry 12 cubic feet of cargo in its trunk, which is low for the class.

Critics said the 3-Series has a sensible interior, as well as comfortable seats that offer plenty of support. Some noted, however, that the back seat doesn’t offer a whole lot of legroom. Standard features on the base 328i include rain-sensing windshield wipers and a 10-speaker stereo with an auxiliary input. Features on higher trim levels and in option packages include leather seats, a power sunroof, Bluetooth, parking sensors, navigation, satellite radio and a Harman Kardon stereo, in addition to BMW’s iDrive infotainment system. In the past, reviewers thought iDrive was difficult to use, but a revamp of the system squelched many complaints. Models equipped with the Sport package feature more heavily-bolstered seats, as well as suspension and cosmetic upgrades.

See the full 2011 BMW 3-Series specs »

Other Cars to Consider

If you like the 3-Series but need more interior space, check out the 2011 Acura TL. The TL offers more passenger room and a larger trunk, which may make it a better choice for families. The TL also earns some of the best safety ratings in the class. Those looking for an entertaining ride should opt for the all-wheel drive model, which is more sport-oriented and has a more powerful engine.

Critics said the 2011 Audi A4 has an upscale interior and great handling, especially models with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive. While the A4 isn’t as powerful as the 3-Series, it gets slightly better fuel economy, so it should save you some money at the pump.

Compare the 3-Series to the TL and A4 »


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