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8.4

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 9.0
Performance: 8.7
Interior: 8.0
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.3
Safety:
This model has never been fully tested for safety. Its overall score is being calculated without safety.
N/A
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2015 BMW i3 Review

The 2015 BMW i3 finishes near the top of our luxury small car rankings. This car has a premium interior and solid performance, making it one of the most well-rounded vehicles in the class.

Pros & Cons

  • Nimble handling
  • Good power from the electric motor
  • Upscale interior
  • Tricky rear-seat entry and exit

New for 2015

  • DC fast charging, heated front seats, and satellite radio became standard

2015 BMW i3 Overview

Is the 2015 BMW i3 a Good Used Car?

Yes, the 2015 i3 is a good used luxury small car. Its motor provides ample power and quick acceleration, and the car gets more miles per charge than many of its rivals. Inside, this BMW looks and feels luxurious, and both rows of seats have plenty of space. The i3's has more cargo space than many rivals, and this BMW has an above-average reliability rating.

Why You Can Trust Us

Our BMW i3 review includes far more than just one person's opinion. We collected professional evaluations from 12 sources and combined them with concrete data like fuel economy estimates, safety features, and performance specs to help you make an informed buying decision.

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

How Much Is the 2015 BMW i3?

Based on about 460 listings for the 2015 BMW i3 on our site, the average price is $20,700. Prices range from $16,900 to $25,000 and vary depending on the vehicle’s condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2015 BMW i3 Cost to Own?

The 2015 i3’s five-year costs for gas, insurance, repairs, and maintenance are projected to be about $19,500, or $3,900 per year. That’s below average for a luxury small car.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New i3?

The 2019 BMW i3 starts at $44,450, which is significantly more than you'll pay for a 2015 i3. However, the 2019 has a much longer range: 153 miles under all-electric power and 200 miles with the optional range extender. The 2019 model also comes with more standard features, like Apple CarPlay, front and rear parking sensors, and a rearview camera. It also offers things you can't get in a 2015, such as wireless device charging and a Wi-Fi hot spot.

Read about the new BMW i3 »

With a price range that tops out around $25,000, the 2015 i3 is far less expensive than almost every new luxury small car. All new model in the class – except the 2019 Acura ILX – have a starting price north of $32,000.

See the Best New Car Deals »

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Which Model Year of the BMW i3 Is Best?

The 2015 model year marks of the second model year of production for the i3. You could save money with a 2014 i3, but you may get the faster DC charging feature, heated front seats, and satellite radio, all of which come standard in the 2015 model. There were no notable changes for 2016, but the 2017 i3 gained a larger battery that increased the all-electric driving range to 114 miles.

Compare the 2015, 2016, and 2017 i3 »

How Reliable Is the 2015 BMW i3?

The 2015 BMW i3 has a slightly above-average reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Read more about i3 reliability »

2015 BMW i3 Recalls

At the time of writing, there are three safety recalls for the 2015 BMW i3. One addresses excessive neck tension during frontal collisions, another concerns the front passenger airbag, and one involves a potential problem with the fuel vent line. Before buying any used vehicle, make sure all recalls have been addressed.

See more information on BMW i3 safety recalls »

Which Used BMW i3 Is Right for Me?

The 2015 BMW i3 comes in three trim levels: Mega World, Giga World, and Tera World. The Mega World trim is well-equipped and should serve most buyers’ needs. It comes with synthetic leather and cloth seating surfaces, a 7.4-kW onboard charger, a navigation system, and satellite radio.

The Giga World adds a universal garage door opener, keyless entry, and seats upholstered with a combination of leather and wool cloth. The top-of-the-line Tera World adds full natural leather upholstery and distinctive 19-inch Turbine light alloy wheels.

See 2015 BMW i3 trims and specs »

Certified Pre-Owned BMW i3 Warranty

The BMW CPO program is available on vehicles with more than 300 but less than 60,000 miles on the odometer. Eligibility is determined by the vehicle’s initial sale’s date. The program covers buyers for one year with unlimited mileage after the expiration of the four-year/50,000-mile new-vehicle limited warranty for passenger cars and SUVs for a maximum of five years of coverage. Each BMW undergoes a road test and inspection before earning CPO status. Additional benefits like towing and roadside assistance may be available. Restrictions apply on transferring certified-pre-owned coverage to subsequent owners. Read the BMW warranty page carefully.

According to our research, BMW's CPO program isn't quite up to the level of many rival luxury automakers, including those from Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus.

See the best CPO programs »

Read more about the BMW certified pre-owned program »

How Safe Is the i3?

The 2015 i3 was not crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Adaptive cruise control comes standard in the 2015 i3. Available active safety features include a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, and parallel park assist.

See i3 safety scores »

2015 BMW i3 Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2015 BMW i3 or 2015 Nissan Leaf?

Among used cars from the 2015 model year, the obvious comparison when it comes to electric vehicles is the 2015 Nissan Leaf. The i3 has a range of 81 miles, while the Leaf is good for 84 miles, but the differences are more apparent from there. The i3 has a stronger powertrain than the Leaf, which struggles to overtake vehicles on the highway. The Nissan has more front and rear legroom and can seat five people, while the i3 only has room for four. The Leaf also has a much better reliability rating. Choosing the right EV comes down to your personal preferences and needs.

Which Is Better: 2015 BMW i3 or 2015 Ford Focus Electric?

The 2015 Ford Focus Electric would appear to be a more practical choice than the BMW because of its lower price and larger interior space. However, the Focus Electric’s predicted reliability score is a two out of five – the lowest possible. That makes the i3 a better choice.

Compare the i3, Leaf, and Focus Electric »

2015 i3 Performance

How Does the 2015 BMW i3 Drive?

The 2015 i3 features a 170-horsepower electric motor and a single-speed transmission. The i3 zips away from stoplights and has plenty of power for highway merging and passing maneuvers. It also feels faster than some other electrified vehicles. The i3 comes with rear-wheel drive and has plenty of road grip around turns, giving it agile road manners. The regenerative brakes may take some getting used to, but after you get the hang of it, you'll be able to drive the i3 in city traffic without frequently having to use the brake pedal.

The i3 has a range of about 81 miles on a full battery, which is comparable to the ranges of many rival EVs. However, the i3 has an optional range-extending two-cylinder gasoline engine that works as a generator and charges the battery, which BMW says extends the i3's total range to up to 150 miles.

According to BMW, the 2015 i3 can be charged in approximately 20 hours using a 120-volt household-style outlet, or in about 3.5 hours with a 240-volt outlet. DC Fast Charging stations can provide the i3 with an 80% charge in 30 minutes. Fast Charging became standard in the i3 for 2015.

Does the 2015 BMW i3 Get Good Gas Mileage?

Even compared to other EVs, the i3 gets great fuel economy. It earns 137 MPG-equivalent in the city and 111 MPGe on the highway. With the available range extender, the i3 gets 117 MPGe city/highway combined under electric power and 39 mpg combined under gasoline power.

For a better understanding of these ratings, check out What Is MPGe?

Read more about i3 performance »

2015 i3 Interior

How Many People Does the 2015 i3 Seat?

The 2015 i3 seats four people in two rows. This BMW features an attractive interior with premium materials, some of which are made from recycled or renewable resources. Heated front seats and cloth upholstery with synthetic leather accents are standard; genuine leather upholstery is available.

The front seats are supportive and provide good forward visibility, and the rear seats have enough head- and legroom that adults can ride back there comfortably. The only downside is that it's a little tough to get into the back seats because of the high step up into the car.

How Many Child Car Seats Fit in the 2015 BMW i3?

The 2015 i3 has two full sets of LATCH connectors for installing child safety seats. Most types of car seats fit in the i3 without much trouble, and there aren't any major issues with the LATCH anchor points.

2015 BMW i3 Features

The 2015 BMW i3 comes standard with automatic climate control and BMW's iDrive infotainment system with a 6.5-inch display, Bluetooth, a USB port, HD Radio, navigation, and satellite radio. A 12-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system is available.

See 2015 BMW i3 specs »

Read more about i3 interior »

2015 BMW i3 Dimensions

BMW i3 Cargo Space

The 2015 BMW i3 has 15.1 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row of seats and 36.8 cubic feet of space with them folded. That's a lot of space for a luxury small car, and it's more than the plug-in-hybrid 2015 Chevrolet Volt and all-electric 2015 Chevrolet Spark provide. The rear seats fold flat, providing an even cargo floor.

2015 i3 Length and Weight

The 2015 i3 is 13.1 feet. Its curb weight ranges from 2,799 to 3,064 pounds.

Where Was the 2015 BMW i3 Built?

BMW built the 2015 i3 in Germany.

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