2013 BMW 3-Series Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2013 BMW 3-Series was new.


Interior: 7.3

The interior of the 2013 BMW 3-Series sedan gets mostly positive remarks from reviewers, who appreciate its roomy back seat and clean, intuitive center stack. They also like the high-end materials and good build quality found in all 3-Series interiors. Still, a few test drivers comment that BMW’s iDrive system isn’t the easiest to use. If you’re looking for an upscale small car with user-friendly tech features, consider rivals like the Audi A4.

  • "Materials and build quality within the cabin are exceptional; even the standard leatherette (vinyl) upholstery looks and feels better than one would expect." -- Edmunds 
  • "BMW calls its 2013 3 Series interior ‘straight out of the BMW design handbook,’ meaning an uncomplicated look with tight fits, simple shapes and upscale materials." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "Imitation-metal trim also blows the base 3's cover, but the finishes are otherwise high-quality. Soft-touch surfaces extend all the way down to the lowest door panels." -- Cars.com (2012 sedan)
  • "The interior, likewise, feels overworked. ... And while we're rather keen on the clean, horizontal lines of the center stack and the large iDrive monitor, there are simply too many trims and panels and planes in too many materials to feel like a cohesive interior design." -- AutoWeek (2012 sedan)


Reviewers agree that the five-seat 3-Series sedan offers a spacious back seat that makes it one of the most accommodating cars in the class. However, the 3-Series’ standard leatherette upholstery draws some criticism, as more than one test driver says that leather should be standard at this price point. The 3-Series coupe and convertible seat four, and don’t have as much back-seat space. Despite a smaller interior, reviewers write that two-door versions of the 3-Series are spacious when compared with other coupes and convertibles in the class. The 2013 3-Series sedan comes with power-adjustable front seats, with two memory presets for the driver’s seat. Optional features include leather, heated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and sport seats, which offer more side bolstering.

  • "The backseat of the 3 Series is one of the more spacious in the entry-level luxury segment regardless of body style, and the added overall length of the new four-door models adds even a little more legroom front and rear." -- Edmunds 
  • "Speaking of getting away with things, how do cars like the 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class get away with imitation-leather seats in their base trim levels? It's convincing vinyl, but still." -- Cars.com (2012 sedan)
  • "Still, the extra size is more easily felt than seen, with rear passengers benefiting from an extra half-inch of knee room, while all passengers enjoy more headroom." -- AutoWeek (2012 sedan)
  • "The standard vinyl trim is attractive, but the fact that it is vinyl seems like a cheapskate move at this car's price level. The available leather trim is notably richer." -- Consumer Guide (2012 sedan)

Interior Features

The base BMW 328i sedan comes with features that include dual-zone automatic climate control, automatic headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers and BMW’s iDrive system, which includes a 6.5-inch display and a stereo system with HD Radio, Bluetooth and a USB port. Most options are grouped into packages and include features like wood or aluminum trim, navigation, lane departure and forward collision warning systems, an upgraded Harman Kardon stereo, a moonroof, parking sensors and a backup camera.

While the 2013 3-Series sedan packs in a strong list of standard features, some reviewers say that the iDrive system still requires some time to master. Other tech features, such as an available head-up display, impress one test driver. However, he also notes that tech gadgets like the optional 360-degree camera system don’t make sense on a car like the 3-Series. Another reviewer says that some switchgear, such as the gear shift and turn-signal stalk, could be easier to use.

See 2013 BMW 3-Series specs »

  • "BMW's iDrive remains a somewhat complicated electronics interface (it's standard on every four-door and included on two-doors with navigation). At times it can take too many clicks, twists and turns of the control knob to perform certain tasks, but it does provide a wide range of vehicle customization that'll reward an owner willing to park for a bit and learn the ropes." -- Edmunds 
  • "We're not fans of the iDrive multifunction control system, which often requires too many twirls and pokes to accomplish simple things, but it's better than previous iterations." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "Unfortunately, the new 3's automatic transmission still has the springy toggle-style gear selector, and the turn-signal stalk similarly springs back to center rather than staying in position until the turn is complete. If there's a benefit to this design, it isn't the driver's." -- Cars.com (2012 sedan)
  • "The full-color head-up display works well and can be nicely configured to show whatever info you want. The optional Surround View, however, is of less use. Getting a 360-degree view of your surroundings might be helpful when reversing, but seeing the sides of your car when it's just sitting still feels gimmicky, at best." -- AutoWeek (2012 sedan)


The BMW 3-Series sedan has 13 cubic feet of cargo space, while the coupe offers 11 cubic feet. The convertible has a very small trunk to begin with, and nearly no storage space when the top is down. Reviewers like the 3-Series sedan’s large trunk and high-tech motion-activated trunk opener. Simply kick your foot under the back bumper and the trunk will open.

  • "The convertible offers a reasonable cargo hold when the hardtop is up, but predictably shrinks considerably when the top is lowered. Still, it's possible to store a standard roller suitcase back there or two smaller bags." -- Edmunds
  • "The rear-seat backrest now splits in 40-20-40 sections for utmost freight-versus-passenger flexibility. The 13-cubic-foot trunk not only provides one more cubic foot of volume than before, there's also a handy bin under a hinged floor panel for stashing items out of sight." -- Car and Driver (2012 sedan)
  • "Just kick a foot under the rear bumper and the trunk pops open. Sheer brilliance. ..." -- AutoWeek (2012 sedan) 

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