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2020 BMW i3 Review

The 2020 BMW i3 boasts quick acceleration, roomy front seats, and intuitive tech. That said, it has a short driving range for an electric vehicle, and its tight rear seats and awkward rear doors limit its practicality. The i3 places in the bottom of our luxury hybrid and electric car rankings.

Pros & Cons

  • Quick acceleration
  • Spacious front row of seats
  • User-friendly technology
  • Below-average driving range
  • Rivals feel more composed on the highway
  • Not much rear-seat legroom
  • Awkward rear doors

7.5

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 6.6
Performance: 8.3
Interior: 6.6
Safety: 9.2
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

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 Is the BMW i3 a Good Car?

The i3 is a decent pick in the luxury hybrid and electric car class. It features a quality interior and lots of standard and available technology, but for some luxury car shoppers, this Bimmer doesn't quite hit the mark in terms of performance or luxury. Although it has no trouble accelerating quickly, the handling can be a bit jittery on the highway. The cabin is well-built with quality materials, but critics say it's not as nice as what you'll find in some rivals.

Should I Buy the BMW i3?

The 2020 i3 is a decent luxury EV, but there are several other electric vehicles that are better overall. In particular, the Tesla Model 3 has a high-tech interior and a superb electric range of up to 310 miles in some models. The Nissan Leaf is a value-minded option that has a similar driving range as the standard i3.

Compare the i3, Model 3, and Leaf »

Should I Buy a New or Used BMW i3?

The 2020 i3 belongs to a generation that debuted for the 2014 model year. There have been some notable changes throughout the years. We recommend the 2019 i3. It is largely the same as the 2020 model, but it will likely cost you less money.

For 2015, DC fast charging, heated front seats, and satellite radio became standard, and a larger battery was added as an option for 2017. BMW introduced the sportier i3s model for 2018, and Apple CarPlay became available that model year. Changes for 2019 include a larger battery that extended the all-electric driving range to 153 miles. Range-extender models also made their debut, upping the i3's range to 200 miles and easing concerns of running out of power. There are no major changes for the 2020 model year. 

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2017 i3, 2018 i3, and 2019 i3 reviews to help make your decision. Also check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 i3 »

We Did the Research for You: 34 Reviews Analyzed

To give you a complete overview of the 2020 i3 – and make your car-shopping experience easier – we analyzed 34 BMW i3 reviews alongside performance specs, interior dimensions, and more.

This 2020 i3 review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for the 2014 model year.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our crew has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we do not accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an external company manages the ads on our site.

How Much Does the BMW i3 Cost?

At the time of writing, there is no official pricing information for the 2020 BMW i3. The similar 2019 i3 has a starting price of $44,450, which is about average in the luxury hybrid and electric car class.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local BMW dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our BMW deals page.

BMW i3 Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: BMW i3 or Tesla Model 3?

The Tesla Model 3 has a lot more to offer than the i3. The Model 3 has nimbler handling and a longer driving range than the BMW, and the Tesla can go up to 310 miles. However, it doesn't offer a range-extended model with a gasoline engine like the BMW. The Model 3 is available with semiautonous safety technology that you can't get in the i3, including an Enhanced Autopilot system that operates the brakes, steering, and throttle. The Tesla is the better choice in this comparison, and it touts a lower starting price.

Which Is Better: BMW i3 or Nissan Leaf?

If you can do without the luxury badge, the Nissan Leaf is a great budget-friendly alternative to the BMW. Its interior quality trails the Bimmer's, but a fully loaded Leaf features leather upholstery, a Bose premium audio system, and ProPilot Assist semiautonomous technology – all at a lower price than that of the base i3. Both cars have similar driving ranges in standard models, though Leaf Plus models can drive up to 226 miles. That said, the Leaf does not offer a range-extended model with a gasoline engine like the i3. Picking between these two comes down to personal preference and driving needs.

Compare the i3, Model 3, and Leaf »

i3 Interior

How Many People Does the i3 Seat?

There's seating for up to four people in the i3. The seats are pretty flat, but they offer enough support for occupants to feel comfortable on long drives. There's a good amount of headroom in both rows, and the front row has enough legroom for tall adults. However, rear-seat legroom is lacking. The rear-hinged back doors make it easy to enter and exit the back seat, but you have to open the front doors first, which can be a hassle. 

i3 and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats. The system is fairly easy to use. However, the upper tethers could be confused for other hardware, and the lower anchors may be difficult to maneuver around.

i3 Interior Quality

The i3's cabin features eco-friendly materials such as recycled cloth upholstery. BMW also uses the natural extract of olive leaves to tan the optional leather upholstery. Sustainably sourced eucalyptus wood trim is also available.

i3 Cargo Space

There's plenty of cargo space in the BMW i3. This hatchback has 15.1 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and 36.9 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded down. With the battery housed under the cargo area, the i3 has a high load floor, which can make it harder to stow hefty cargo. 

i3 Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The i3 comes standard with BMW's iDrive infotainment system. It features a 6.5-inch display and a rotary knob on the center console. The system is easy to operate, with clear graphics and quick menu responses. There are also controls for temperature and audio settings, but the i3 does not have touch-screen functionality.

Standard features include Apple CarPlay, a USB port, Bluetooth, satellite radio, HD Radio, and navigation. A 16-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system, a Wi-Fi hot spot, wireless device charging, and an advanced navigation system are available.

Android Auto is not available. For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

i3 Performance

i3 Engine: Pep in Its Step

The 2020 BMW i3 comes standard with a 170-horsepower electric motor. The i3s trims feature a 181-horsepower electric motor. All i3 models deliver quick acceleration. A single-speed transmission is standard.

i3 Mileage and Range: Considerably Efficient

According to the EPA, the 2020 i3 achieves a combined city/highway rating of 113 MPG equivalent in its standard configuration, which is above the class average. Models with the range extender deliver a combined rating of 100 MPGe city/highway.

The i3 has a range of 153 miles in standard electric-only models. Range-extended models have a 126-mile all-electric range and a gasoline engine, adding 74 miles for a combined 200-mile range. These numbers aren't as good as those of the competition, including the Tesla Model 3, which has an all-electric range of up to 310 miles.

For more information, read What is MPGe? 

i3 Electric Alternative Fuels/Charging: You Have Options

A standard 120-volt household-style Level 1 charger isn't the most practical option because it only produces up to 3 to 4 miles of range for every hour of charging. You'll likely want to get a 240-volt Level 2 charger installed in your home or use a Level 2 public charger when you're out and about. It produces up to 26 miles of range per hour of charging. The fastest option is a 480-volt Level 3 DC charger at a public charging station. It will get you up to 80% of the i3's range in as little as 40 minutes.

i3 Ride and Handling: Great in the City; Not So Great on the Highway

The i3's maneuverability and tight turning circle make it a great vehicle for city driving.  However, the handling can feel twitchy at high speeds, and the ride is on the firm side. 

The i3's regenerative braking system supports one-pedal driving. To slow down the car, you simply taking your foot off the accelerator. You also have the option of using the brake pedal to stop the car more quickly and immediately.  

Read more about performance »

i3 Reliability

Is the BMW i3 Reliable?

The 2020 BMW i3 has a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

BMW i3 Warranty

The 2020 i3 comes with a four-year/50,000-mile new-car warranty. BMW covers the battery with an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty.

Read more about reliability »

i3 Safety

i3 Crash Test Results

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the 2020 i3. The IIHS gave the similar 2019 i3 the highest rating of Good in four crash tests and the second-lowest rating of Acceptable in testing for the head restraints and seats.

i3 Safety Features

The i3 comes standard with a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Several driver assistance features are optional: stop-and-go adaptive cruise control, adaptive headlights, automatic high-beam headlights, and automatic parking assist.

Read more about safety »

i3 Dimensions and Weight

The i3 is nearly 13.2 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 2,972 to 3,309 pounds.

Where Is the 2020 BMW i3 Built?

BMW builds the 2020 i3 in Germany.

Which BMW i3 Model Is Right for Me?

The 2020 BMW i3 comes in four trims: i3, i3s, i3 with Range Extender, and i3s with Range Extender.

All models come with the same comfort, technology, and safety features, so your choice comes down to performance. The base i3 trim features a 170-horsepower electric motor with a 153-mile range. The i3s trim gains a 181-horsepower electric motor, but it has the same range. There are also two Range Extender models that feature a gasoline engine as well as an electric motor to give the vehicle a combined range of 200 miles.

There are also four design packages to choose from. The standard Deka World has cloth upholstery, Mega World features synthetic leather upholstery, Giga World offers mixed cloth and leather upholstery with wood trim, and Tera World has full leather upholstery and wood trim.

Official pricing information is unavailable at the time of writing.

BMW i3

The base i3 trim comes standard with cloth upholstery and heated front seats. The standard iDrive infotainment system features a 6.5-inch display, Apple CarPlay, a USB port, Bluetooth, satellite radio, HD Radio, and navigation. Proximity keyless entry, heated and power-folding outside mirrors, and LED headlights are also standard. The base i3 also comes with several safety features, including a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and adaptive cruise control.

The Technology and Driving Assistant package adds advanced navigation, adaptive headlights, automatic high-beam headlights, and a universal garage door opener.

BMW i3s

The i3s trim adds a 181-horsepower electric motor and a sport-tuned suspension system.

BMW i3 with Range Extender

The i3 with Range Extender trim has the base trim's electric motor plus a gasoline engine to give it a range of 200 miles.

BMW i3s with Range Extender

The i3s with Range Extender builds on the trim before it with a 181-horsepower electric motor and a sport-tuned suspension system.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local BMW dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our BMW deals page.

See 2020 BMW i3 specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2020 BMW i3 has a lot going for it, including an eco-friendly design, plenty of standard and available technology features, a peppy motor, and lots of space for your cargo. Still, some of its rivals in the luxury hybrid and electric car class have longer driving ranges and more rear-seat legroom.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "With its space-age body, super-efficient powertrain, and laser focus on its urban mission, the i3 pushes the boundaries in automotive design. This tall, narrow, electric city car not only looks like a futuristic personal transportation pod that just drove off the set of the latest 'Tron' movie, it's the first widely available car to use lightweight carbon fiber for its basic body structure. That single mission focus however, makes the i3's appeal rather limited. Under the modern vibe, there are some peculiarities that might deter many buyers." -- Consumer Reports
  • "The i3 has all the hallmarks of a slick EV except for its electric driving range." -- Car and Driver
  • "The BMW i3 debuted in 2014, making it one of the first electric vehicles to be offered from a luxury automaker. A lot has changed since then, both in terms of new technology and competitive models, but BMW has maintained the i3 as a relevant pick for EV shoppers by making constant updates." -- Edmunds (2019) 
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2020 BMW i3

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