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$17,636 - $18,788 $42,400 - $46,250

8.3

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 9.0
Performance: 8.7
Interior: 8.0
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.7
Safety: N/A
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2015 BMW i3 Review

The BMW i3 has an upscale interior, delivers good handling and acceleration, and costs less to own than most other upscale small cars. Its reliability score – though above average – is lower than many class leaders’, which pulls the i3 to the middle of the segment.

Pros & Cons

 

  • Nimble handling
  • Good power from the electric motor
  • Upscale interior materials

 

  • Rear seats cumbersome to enter

New for 2015

  • DC fast charging standard
  • Heated front seats standard
  • Satellite radio standard

2015 BMW i3 Overview

Is the 2015 BMW i3 a Good Used Car?

The 2015 BMW i3 is a good upscale small car – and the only electric vehicle in the class. This hatchback is every bit as good, if not better, than its gas-only and hybrid competitors when it comes to handling and acceleration. It’s also well-outfitted with plenty of technology. Range anxiety is always an issue with an electric car, but some models have a range extender that helps ease this concern somewhat.

Used 2015 BMW i3 Performance and Interior

A 170-horsepower electric motor mated to a single-speed transmission powers the relatively light BMW i3. Electric motors deliver all of the power (or torque) immediately, providing brisk acceleration and plenty of power on the highway. The rear-wheel-drive i3 has nimble handling. It maintains good grip on curves and has a balanced ride overall.

The EPA estimates the 2015 BMW i3 has a range of 81 miles on a full charge. A range extender in the form of a 39-horsepower two-cylinder gas engine can be found in some used models. It increases overall range to 150 miles, but the extra weight lowers electric-power-only range to 72 miles. According to BMW, an i3 hooked up to an AC 240-volt, Level 2 charger can have its batteries filled in 3.5 hours. A commercial-grade DC charger can charge the i3’s batteries to 80 percent in 20 minutes. A standard 120-volt residential outlet can charge the i3 in 20 hours.

The i3 has a regenerative braking system that takes some getting used to. It’s tuned so that when you take your foot off the accelerator, the i3 immediately begins to slow down, using the car’s forward momentum to recharge the batteries. With a bit of practice, you can bring the car to a complete stop without ever hitting the brake pedal.

Read more about i3 performance »

The four-seat 2015 BMW i3 has more interior space than most small cars because it lacks a transmission hump. Cloth seats with leather trim and full leather seats are available. Up front, the driver and passenger enjoy heated seats. There is good room for rear-seat passengers. However, the high step-in can make climbing into the back uncomfortable. The i3 has complete LATCH systems to anchor child seats in its two rear seats.

The BMW i3’s standard interior features include Bluetooth, HD Radio, navigation, satellite radio, and BMW's 6.5-inch iDrive infotainment system. Some used models may also include a 12-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound audio system. The infotainment system’s controls respond quickly to driver commands.

Read more about i3 interior »

Used 2015 BMW i3 Prices

The price of a used 2015 BMW i3 ranges from about $22,000 for the base model to around $24,000 for the range-extender model that can almost double the distance the vehicle can travel. Prices vary depending on the vehicle's condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

We Did the Research for You: 12 Reviews Analyzed

Our used car rankings and reviews are not based on our own opinions. Instead, we collect information like safety and reliability reports, total costs of ownership, and the views of the automotive press. We analyzed 12 professional reviews for this 2015 BMW i3 overview.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs for a decade, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the automotive industry. To ensure our impartiality, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from carmakers or dealers, and an outside team handles our site’s advertising.

How Reliable Is the 2015 BMW i3?

The 2015 BMW i3 has above-average reliability, earning a score of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power and Associates.

Read more about i3 reliability »

How Safe Is the i3?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety did not crash test the 2015 BMW i3. Available active safety features include a rearview camera, pedestrian detection and city collision mitigation, front and rear parking sensors, and parallel park assist.

See i3 safety scores »

Should I Consider Another Used i3?

The 2015 BMW i3 is part of the car’s first generation, which launched for 2014 and includes the 2017 i3. You might save money by considering a 2014 i3, but it may not include the faster DC charging feature, heated front seats, and satellite radio that are standard in the 2015 model.

Compare the 2014 and 2015 i3 »

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 base Mega World comes with synthetic and cloth seating surfaces, a 7.4-kW on-board charger, a navigation system, and satellite radio. The Giga World adds seats upholstered in a combination of leather and wool cloth, a universal garage door opener, and keyless entry. The top-of-the-line Tera World adds full natural leather upholstery and distinctive 19-inch Turbine light alloy wheels. The Mega World trim is fairly well-equipped and should serve most buyers’ needs.

Even with the i3’s above-average predicted reliability, you might consider a certified pre-owned model. The BMW CPO program has three levels based on the vehicle’s age and the number of miles on the odometer: Certified Pre-Owned Elite, Certified Pre-Owned, and Pre-Owned. Each level receives the balance of the original new-car warranty. Certified Pre-Owned Elite vehicles get an additional one-year/25,000-mile warranty, while Certified Pre-Owned models receive an additional two-year/50,000-mile warranty. Pre-Owned BMWs receive no additional coverage. Each BMW undergoes an inspection before earning CPO status. Additional benefits like towing and roadside assistance may be available, so read the BMW warranty page carefully.

Read more about certified pre-owned vehicles »

Read more about the BMW certified pre-owned program »

2015 BMW i3 and Other Cars to Consider

For 2015, the BMW i3 was the only electric vehicle in the upscale small car class. You’ll have to look outside the segment to find competitive EVs, but the i3 is as good, if not better, than other gas-only luxury small cars.

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. The i3 has a more potent power plant than the Leaf; the Leaf struggles to overtake vehicles on the highway. The Nissan has more front and rear legroom. The Leaf can also seat five, while the i3 has room for four. Because it is so much less expensive and has better predicted reliability, the Leaf is the better choice.

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 much 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 the better choice.

Compare the i3, Leaf, and Focus Electric »

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