2016 BMW 3-Series Review

The 2016 BMW 3 Series has muscular engines, nimble handling, and adult-friendly rear seats. Still, its below-class-average reliability rating keeps this luxury small car from finishing higher in our rankings.

Pros & Cons

  • Potent engines
  • Sharp handling
  • Roomy back seats
  • Outstanding fuel economy
  • Unrefined engine stop-start system

New for 2016

  • 340i replaced 335i
  • 330e plug-in hybrid replaced ActiveHybrid3
  • Minor interior and exterior styling updates

Rankings & Awards

The 2016 BMW 3-Series's #8 ranking is based on its score within the 2016 Luxury Small Cars category. It was a finalist for our 2016 Best Upscale Small Car for the Money award and a finalist for our 2016 Best Upscale Small Car for Families award. Currently the BMW 3-Series has a score of 8.0 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 42 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 8.8
Performance: 8.6
Interior: 8.1
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.1
Safety: 8.9
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2016 BMW 3-Series Overview

Is the 2016 BMW 3 Series a Good Used Car?

The BMW 3 Series is a good luxury small car that can satisfy the needs of a variety of shoppers. It’s one of the strongest performers in the class, delivering a great combination of agility and ride comfort. It also boasts a range of potent engines and good gas mileage. This BMW isn’t perfect, however, as many competitors feature higher-quality cabins and better reliability ratings.

Why You Can Trust Us

Our used car rankings and reviews are based on our analysis of professional automotive reviews, as well as data like crash test scores, reliability ratings, and ownership expenses. We researched 42 BMW 3 Series reviews to help you decide if it’s the right used car for you.

The U.S. News Best Cars team has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our staff has a combined 75 years of automotive industry experience. To ensure our impartiality, our staff never takes expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside team handles the advertising on our site.

How Much Is the 2016 BMW 3 Series?

Our site has 800-plus listings for the BMW 3 Series, and the average listing price is $27,400. However, its price can range from $20,400 to $37,600, depending on the model you choose, as well as its condition, mileage, location, and features.

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How Much Does the 2016 BMW 3 Series Cost to Own?

The BMW 3 Series’ five-year estimated costs for gas, insurance, maintenance, and repairs is $28,150. In comparison, these same costs for many competitors are a bit lower. For example, you’ll spend about $24,600 for the Audi A3 and about $27,500 for the Lexus IS.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New 3 Series?

A new 2018 BMW 3 Series has a base price of $34,900. That’s $7,500 more than the average list price for a used 2016 model. The 2018 model adds a few features, including a standard rearview camera. Wireless charging and Apple CarPlay are available, but those features raise the price by a couple thousand dollars. If you can do without Apple CarPlay, find a 2016 model with a rearview camera. You can buy a lot of apps for your smartphone with the money you’ll save.

Read about the new BMW 3 Series »

If you’re committed to a new car, but your budget is more in line with the 2016 BMW 3 Series, you won’t find many options among new luxury small cars. The 2019 Acura ILX comes close in price to the 2016 3 Series, but it has dull handling and few standard features. If you’re willing to consider a non-luxury small car, however, there are several attractive, comparably priced options. If you like the 3 Series’ smooth and sporty handling, consider a 2018 Volkswagen GTI ($26,400). It has potent engines, agile handling, a great infotainment system, and a comfortable, upscale cabin. The 2018 Mazda3 is even more affordable, with a base price of about $18,100. It’s available as a hatchback or a sedan, and in addition to great fuel economy, it has most of the same appealing traits as the GTI.

Compare the 3 Series, GTI, and Mazda3 »

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How Reliable Is the 2016 BMW 3 Series?

The 2016 3 Series received a reliability rating of three out of five from J.D. Power. While that’s an average mark for the automotive industry, it’s below average in the competitive luxury small car class.   

Read more about 3 Series reliability »

2016 BMW 3 Series Recalls

There is one recall on the 2016 BMW 3-Series. A faulty Exhaust Gas Recirculation  module can lead to the intake manifold melting. Be sure this recall is addressed before purchasing a 2016 3-Series.

See more information on BMW 3 Series safety recalls »

Which Model Year of the BMW 3 Series Is Best?

The 2016 BMW 3 Series is part of a generation that launched in 2012. The 2016 model is mostly identical to the two previous models, aside from getting a new available engine and minor performance and styling updates. The 2017 model is the first with available wireless charging and Apple CarPlay, but its average price is about $10,000 more than the average price of the 2016 model. Consider purchasing a 2014 or 2015 model, which is the same basic car as the 2016 model, but at a lower price.

Compare the 2014, 2015, and 2016 3 Series »

Which Used BMW 3 Series Model Is Right for Me?

The BMW 3 Series is available in a handful of body styles: sedan, wagon, hatchback (Grand Turismo), coupe, and convertible. The 3 Series sedan has five trim levels: 320i (base), 328i, 328d (diesel engine), 330e (plug-in hybrid), and 340i. The 3 Series wagon is available in only 328i xDrive (all-wheel drive) and 328d xDrive trims. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive (xDrive) is available in all but the 330e model.

The 320i base model has a powerful engine and comes with a good number of standard features that include Bluetooth, a USB port, dual-zone automatic climate control, and the iDrive infotainment system with a 6.5-inch display.

If you want a more powerful engine or an alternative powertrain – like the diesel engine – you will have to skip the base model. The 328i and 340i 3 Series models offer a good balance of value, power, and features, covering the needs of most shoppers. The BMW 3 Series 328i has a stronger version of the base engine that adds 60 horsepower. It also comes with nicer interior finishes and driver memory functions. The BMW 3 Series 340i adds a stronger six-cylinder engine, as well as a power trunk lid with a foot sensor, a 16-speaker Harman Kardon stereo, push-button start, and a sunroof.  

See 2016 BMW 3 Series trims and specs »

What Does BMW's Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Cover?

The BMW Certified CPO program is available on vehicles with between 300 and 60,000 miles on the odometer. The program covers buyers for one year with unlimited mileage after the four-year/50,000-mile new-vehicle limited warranty has expired. This warranty can be renewed for a fee, but there is a maximum of five years of coverage. Each BMW must pass a road test and a 196-point inspection before earning CPO status. Additional benefits like towing and 24-hour roadside assistance may be available. Restrictions apply on transferring CPO coverage to subsequent owners. Read the BMW warranty page carefully.

BMW has one of the less-attractive CPO programs among luxury car manufacturers, according to our research. You’ll get better warranties from Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Jaguar.

See the best CPO programs »

How Safe Is the 3 Series?

The 2016 3 Series has a lower safety rating than the majority of cars in the class, but it performed decently in crash tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 3 Series five out of five stars overall, as well as in rollover and side crash tests. It earned four stars in the frontal crash test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2016 3 Series the highest rating of Good in four crash tests – moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints and seats – and the second-lowest rating of Marginal in the driver-side small overlap front evaluation.

No active safety features come standard. Available features include a rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, side- and top-view cameras, a head-up display, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection.

See 3 Series safety scores »

2016 BMW 3 Series Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2016 BMW 3 Series or 2016 Lexus IS?

The 2016 Lexus IS has composed handling and a comfortable ride, but it isn’t quite as performance-focused as the BMW 3 Series. While both of the IS’ engine options are powerful, their horsepower ratings pale in comparison to the output of some of the 3 Series’ available engines. The Lexus IS, however, has a nicer interior and a better reliability rating. If you prefer luxury and comfort over sporty handling, the Lexus IS might fit your needs better. However, performance enthusiasts should choose the 3 Series.  

Which Is Better: 2016 BMW 3 Series or 2016 Audi A4?

The 2016 Audi A4, like the BMW 3 Series, has a balanced ride and powerful engines. However, the 3 Series features one of the most luxurious and high-quality interiors in the class. The A4 has roomy front and rear seats that provide all-day comfort. The Audi also has an above-average reliability rating for the class. It's a close call between these models, but the A4 comes out on top.

Compare the 3 Series, IS, and A4 »

2016 3 Series Performance

How Does the 2016 BMW 3 Series Drive?

The rear-wheel-drive BMW 3 Series has a range of powerful engines. The base 320i model comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 180 horsepower and zippy acceleration. Aside from the diesel models, engine options only get stronger from there. The 328i has a 240-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, and the BMW 340i model has a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that makes 320 horsepower.

The 328d is powered by a 180-horsepower turbodiesel four-cylinder engine, and the 330e plug-in hybrid has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that combine to make 250 horsepower. 

Performance enthusiasts will appreciate the M3, which comes with a muscular 425-horsepower twin-turbocharged six-cylinder.

A slick, eight-speed automatic transmission is standard. A six-speed manual is available in the sedan and standard in the BMW M3. Rear-wheel drive comes standard, and all-wheel drive (xDrive) is available.

The 3 Series is praised for its driving dynamics, which are well-balanced between comfortable and agile. However, its engine start-stop system can be finicky and is best left disabled.

Does the 2016 BMW 3 Series Get Good Gas Mileage?

The base 3 Series gets great fuel economy, at 23 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. With the available diesel engine, gas mileage is much better at 31 mpg in the city and 42 mpg on the highway. There's also an engine stop-start feature that you can turn on to help conserve fuel. However, the system’s lack of refinement makes it more burdensome than useful.

Read more about 3 Series performance »

2016 3 Series Interior

How Many People Does the 2016 3 Series Seat?

The five-seat BMW 3 Series has a handsome cabin, but it isn’t quite as luxurious as those of many rivals. The front seats are supportive, and the rear seats are among the roomiest in the class.

How Many Car Seats Fit in the 2016 BMW 3 Series?

There are two full sets of LATCH car-seat connectors in the rear outboard seats and an upper tether anchor in the rear middle seat. The BMW 328xi model received an IIHS rating of Marginal rating for LATCH ease of use, and the BMW 328i model received a Poor rating.

2016 BMW 3 Series Features

Standard features in the 2016 BMW 320i include a nine-speaker stereo, push-button start, Bluetooth, a USB port, dual-zone automatic climate control, and BMW’s iDrive infotainment system with a 6.5-inch display. Available features include a navigation system, satellite radio, a moonroof, a 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, and a head-up display.

The iDrive infotainment system is one of the most user-friendly systems in the segment, thanks to its straightforward menus, crisp display, and snappy responses to inputs.

See 2016 BMW 3 Series specs »

Read more about 3 Series interior »

2016 BMW 3 Series Dimensions

BMW 3 Series Cargo Space

The 2016 BMW 3 Series sedan has 13 cubic feet of trunk space, which is a bit more than average for the class. With the rear seats folded, the 3 Series Sports Wagon and Gran Turismo hatchback have 53 and 56.5 cubic feet of cargo space, respectively, and come standard with a power liftgate.

2016 3 Series Length and Weight

The BMW 3 Series is 15.2 feet long. Its gross vehicle weight is between 4,355 and 4,585 pounds, depending on the model.

Where Was the 2016 BMW 3 Series Built?

BMW manufactured the 2016 3 Series in Germany and South Africa.

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