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2016 BMW i3 Review

The 2016 BMW i3 achieves a ranking in the top third of its class, thanks to its agile handling and peppy acceleration. However, its interior doesn’t hold a candle to most competitors.

Pros & Cons

  • Nimble handling
  • Quick off the line
  • Better mpg-e than most electric vehicles
  • Confusing shifter




Critics' Rating: 8.5
Performance: 8.9
Interior: 7.4
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.2
This model has never been fully tested for safety. Its overall score is being calculated without safety.
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2016 BMW i3 Overview

Is the 2016 BMW i3 a Good Used Car?

Yes, the BMW i3 is a good used car. It has a futuristic, upscale cabin with mostly user-friendly technology. This distinctive EV is agile and quick, and the i3's fuel economy is outstanding even by electric vehicle standards. However, its funky interior and unusual shifter take some getting used to.

Why You Can Trust Us

To give you a complete overview of the 2016 i3 – and make your car-shopping experience easier – we analyzed 15 BMW i3 reviews alongside reliability ratings, safety scores, and more.

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 Is the 2016 BMW i3?

Based on 40 listings on our site, you can expect to spend between $23,000 and $30,500 for a used 2016 BMW i3. The average listed price for an i3 on our site is $26,800. The price you pay varies with the vehicle's condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2016 BMW i3 Cost to Own?

At this time of writing, the 2016 BMW i3's estimated five-year costs for fuel, insurance, maintenance, and repairs are projected to be about $19,790 or $3,960 per year. By comparison, five-year costs for the 2016 Chevy Volt and the 2016 Nissan Leaf are around $16,620 and $15,620, respectively.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New i3?

For 2018, the BMW i3 gained a larger battery option, available Apple CarPlay, and a more-powerful BMW i3s edition. If you can do without these changes, the 2016 BMW i3 is a better value. It costs less and is very similar to the 2018 model.

Read about the new BMW i3 »

Finding a new model that's similar to the 2016 BMW i3 and costs around the same price is a challenge. The i3 is a very unique hatchback, so there's nothing quite like it. That said, the 2018 Hyundai Ioniq is a good lower-priced alternative. The Ioniq comes in hybrid, hybrid plug-in, and electric versions that deliver excellent fuel economy and/or mpg-e ratings. Additionally, its interior is nicer than you'd expect from a vehicle at this price point. If you dish out a little more money for an upper trim, you'll get upscale amenities like heated seats and leather upholstery. However, the i3 is more fun to drive.

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How Reliable Is the 2016 BMW i3?

The 2016 BMW i3 has a reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power. That’s above average for all cars on the road, but many rivals earn higher ratings.

Read more about i3 reliability »

2016 BMW i3 Recalls

At the time of this writing, there are two safety recalls for the 2016 BMW i3. Prior to recall repairs, small adult drivers who fail to buckle their seatbelt are more prone to neck injuries. Another recall addresses the ribbed wire protection sleeve and the fuel tank vent line rubbing against each other, which could create a hole and result in a fuel vapor leak. To avoid these issues, make sure a BMW dealer performs applicable recall services before purchasing an i3. 

See more information on BMW i3 safety recalls »

Which Model Year of the BMW i3 Is Best?

The 2016 BMW i3 is part of a generation that debuted for the 2014 model year. Models from 2014 through 2017 earn similarly good scores on our site. There were only a few changes over the years. Heated front seats, satellite radio, and DC fast charging became standard for the 2015 model year. There were no changes for 2016. For 2017, a larger 90 Ah battery became available. We recommend the 2015 model, which comes with useful features and a lower average price than the 2016 i3.

Compare the 2015, 2016, and 2017 i3 »

Which Used BMW i3 Model Is Right for Me?

There are only two i3 trims: base and i3 with Range Extender. The only differences between the trims are range and mileage differences. The Range Extender model features a gas engine, which eliminates some of the range anxiety that typically accompanies electric vehicles. Choosing the right i3 really comes down to your driving needs.

See 2016 BMW i3 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 Model?

The BMW i3 did not undergo crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Standard active safety features include adaptive cruise control and rear parking sensors. Available features include a rearview camera, front parking sensors, parallel park assist, forward collision warning, and collision mitigation.

See i3 safety scores »

2016 BMW i3 Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2016 BMW i3 or 2016 Chevrolet Volt?

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt is a plug-in hybrid that is a better overall value than the i3. Though the Volt’s mpg-e rating is lower than the i3's, its combination of an electric motor system and a gas engine gives it a longer driving range (420 miles versus 81 miles in the i3). The Volt’s lower average price makes it even more appealing. However, the i3 offers more cargo space, slightly quicker acceleration, and sportier road manners.

Which Is Better: 2016 BMW i3 or 2016 Nissan Leaf?

The all-electric 2016 Nissan Leaf is a good budget-friendly alternative to the i3. Its range is slightly longer and its mpg-e rating is nearly as good as the i3's. The Leaf has roomier rear seats than the i3, and user-friendly technology is a hallmark of the Leaf’s stylish cabin. The Nissan also has poised handling and a quiet ride, but its acceleration is lackluster. Inside, the Leaf’s cabin materials aren't nearly as nice as the BMW's. You can’t go wrong with either car, but the i3 is nicer overall.

Compare the i3, Volt, and Leaf »

2016 i3 Performance

How Does the 2016 BMW i3 Drive?

The rear-wheel-drive 2016 i3 is powered by a 170-horsepower electric motor paired with a single-speed transmission. Acceleration is especially quick from a stop, and there's adequate power for daily driving. The i3 delivers nimble handling on even the twistiest roads.

Does the 2016 BMW i3 Get Good Gas Mileage?

The base i3 returns 137 mpg-equivalent in the city and 111 mpg-e on the highway, which is excellent for an electric vehicle. The base engine's range is 81 miles on a fully charged battery. Those with range anxiety should consider the Range Extender trim that includes a gasoline engine to boost the total range up to 150 miles. However, the tradeoff is a slightly lower fuel economy of 117 mpg-e combined (39 mpg combined with the gas engine running). By comparison, the hybrid 2016 Chevy Volt gets 106 mpg-e combined and 42 mpg combined in extended range mode. The 2016 Nissan Leaf is another fully electric car, and it gets up to 114 mpg-e combined.

With a 120-volt outlet, the i3 can take up to 20 hours to reach a full charge. Charging with a 240-volt outlet takes up to four hours.

Read more about i3 performance »

2016 i3 Interior

How Many People Does the 2016 i3 Seat?

There's seating for four in the 2016 BMW i3’s quiet cabin. This hatchback's front seats are comfortable, and visibility is good all around. The rear seats have a good amount of passenger space. However, some may find getting into the back row a challenge, due to its high step.

How Many Car Seats Fit in the 2016 BMW i3?

There are two full sets of LATCH car-seat connectors on the i3's outer rear seats. For the most part, the rear-hinged rear doors make installing car seats easy, and the LATCH connectors are a breeze to locate and use. While most car seats have a good amount of space in the i3, there isn't a lot of room for rear-facing infant seats.

2016 BMW i3 Features

Standard features in the i3 include a USB port, Bluetooth, satellite radio, and the iDrive infotainment system with a 6.5-inch display screen. Available features include a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system. The iDrive system's menus are smartly arranged, and the system is responsive. That's not the case with the shifter, however. Be careful there, as it's easy to accidentally put the i3 into the wrong gear.

See 2016 BMW i3 specs »

Read more about i3 interior »

2016 BMW i3 Dimensions

BMW i3 Cargo Space

The 2016 BMW i3 has 15.1 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats in use and 36.9 cubic feet with them folded. That’s more space than some other electric vehicles offer, including the 2016 Chevy Volt.

2016 i3 Length and Weight

The BMW i3 is roughly 13 feet long, and its curb weight is over 2,500 pounds.

Where Was the 2016 BMW i3 Built?

The 2016 BMW i3 was built in Leipzig, Germany.


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