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2018 BMW 3-Series Interior Review

Scorecard

Interior: 8.2

The interior design of the 2018 BMW 3 Series is that of understated European elegance. Materials range from standard synthetic leather seats to trimmings in burl walnut, aluminum, and high-grade leather. The seats are spacious, and cargo space is plentiful (especially in the wagon and hatchback body styles).

  • "BMW interiors are never overly ornate and the interior of the BMW 3 Series is simple, elegant and minimalistic in design. It's also beautifully assembled with tight fits and upscale materials." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Quality materials abound, including real metal inlays on the dashboard and the center console. The sun visors feel flimsy, though, and do not slide for extended side-window coverage. Buttons, knobs and levers feel solid and precise." -- Edmunds
  • "As for the styling, the changes made to the exterior of the 2016 3-series are barely visible and the interior has gained just a few metal trim strips. The latter is okay, we suppose, as the cabin still looks relatively contemporary, but it nevertheless lacks the sumptuous luxury of the Mercedes-Benz C-class interior or the techno-futurism of the next-gen Audi A4." -- Car and Driver (2016)

Seating

The five-person 3 Series comes with synthetic leather upholstery and six-way manually adjustable front seats. Leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, and power-adjustable front seats are available. The front seats are comfortable, offering enough adjustments to give the driver easy access to a comfortable position. The back seats are spacious for a vehicle this size, and there's enough legroom for a pair of adults.

For child safety seats, there are two sets of lower anchors and three tether anchors in the back of the 3 Series. The lower anchors are a bit tricky to access and use, though you should have no issue finding the upper anchors. 

  • "The front seats have abundant head- and legroom. The backseat legroom is generous, too, and even our 6-foot-2-inch tester had enough headroom. But backseat elbow and shoulder room do feel tight on the door side." -- Edmunds
  • "Seat comfort is exceptional as is the driving position." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Front and rear headroom in the 330i are generous for the segment, but that's where the advantages end. Seating accommodations are what one would expect in this compact sedan, with legroom and shoulder room measurements being on par with competitors. Rear legroom, however, was compromised by the unforgiving, hard seatback of the front seats. Seat comfort from our car's optional sport seats varied greatly by body size/type. Firm padding, especially in the seat bottoms, might not be a good match for all backsides." -- Motor Trend (2017)

Interior Features

The standard infotainment system in the 3 Series is composed of the iDrive interface, a 6.5-inch display screen, a nine-speaker audio system, a USB port, Bluetooth, and HD Radio. A rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, and push-button start are also among the standard inclusions. Options include satellite radio, a 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, wireless charging for smartphones, a Wi-Fi hot spot, navigation, Apple CarPlay, a proximity key, adaptive headlights, automatic high beams, speed limit information, a head-up display, active park assist, parking sensors, a 360-degree camera system, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, and automatic emergency braking.

The iDrive interface comes with a steep learning curve, but once you become comfortable with it, the system is responsive and user-friendly. Instead of a touch-screen display, the 3 Series has a rotary control knob and available touchpad with handwriting recognition.

See 2018 BMW 3 Series specs »

  • "The standard 6.5-inch iDrive display is adequate, but the 8.8-inch screen is the true luxury touch. The iDrive system is easy to use with straightforward menus, crisp graphics and quick processing. The controller touchpad can be used to handwrite inputs using your finger." -- Edmunds
  • "The gauges are clear and concise. The center controls are angled toward the driver, putting them in easy reach." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "From a rather complete head-up information display to the latest remote concierge services and BMW's iDrive multimedia system, the 340i can be very well-equipped with all the latest gadgetry. Interestingly, it's (sic) display is not a touchscreen; it operates from a rotary controller in the center console that takes a little getting used to before you can successfully navigate the menu-based system. The upside is that you're never trying to reach for the display while driving and there are no smudgy fingerprints on it." -- Cars.com (2016)

Cargo

The 3 Series' 13-cubic-foot trunk is a decent size for a luxury small car. Cargo space grows to 24.6 cubic feet in the Gran Turismo (56.8 cubic feet with the seats folded down), and the Sports Wagon has 27.5 cubic feet behind the seats and 53 cubic feet overall.

  • "The Sports Wagon and Gran Turismo models offer sizable cargo-hauling advantages over sedan-only rivals like the Lexus IS and Mercedes C-Class." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "For a compact sedan, the 340i has a surprisingly spacious trunk, with 13.0 cubic feet overall. That's more than its rivals possess, with the Mercedes-Benz C430 AMG coming in at 12.6 cubic feet and the Audi S4 not far behind at 12.4. … All these cars feature a split, folding rear seatback to allow for expansion of the trunk for larger items." -- Cars.com (2016)
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