$24,247 - $27,455

2017 BMW i3 Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2017 BMW i3 was new.

Scorecard

Interior: 7.8

The 2017 BMW i3's cabin combines eco-friendliness with a futuristic design that matches the EV's state-of-the-art powertrain. The cabin has smart styling that's fitted with green materials like recycled cloth and responsibly forested wood trims. Most of the cabin feels high-end, but depending on your tastes, you may find that some of the recycled materials feel more low-rent than the trim pieces used in other German-badged vehicles.

  • BMW's i3 EV for 2017 has an interior that is futuristic yet minimalistic. Like its exterior, some elements work better than others. The responsibly forested eucalyptus dash and wide-screen displays reward the senses. Yet some of the other earth-friendly dash materials resemble attic insulation." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "About as roomy as the automaker's larger 3-Series, the i3 is designed to emulate the midsize 5-Series in terms of the premium feel its cabin provides. To that end, BMW selected upmarket materials, 25 percent of which are composed of either recycled or renewably-sourced materials." -- Left Lane News (2015)
  • "Yet, even if you forget all about the high-tech construction and powertrain, the i3 is actually a nice car. There's a classy looking interior, solid build quality and an impressive amount of practicality." -- Edmunds (2015)

Seating

Cloth upholstery and heated front seats come standard in the four-seat 2017 i3, while leather upholstery is available. All four seats are comfortable, and there's plenty of space for passengers, even in the back. Those in the front have a high perch that gives them a wide open view of the road ahead. The rear pillars are thick, but because of the square shape of the back windows, visibility for rear-seat passengers isn't hindered. The i3's cabin is very quiet while on the go.

The i3 has suicide-style rear doors that swing backward instead of forward like most cars. While this gives you ample space to get in, you must first open the front door before you can open the back one. The cabin floor is also rather high off the ground so it may be difficult for children to get in.

Each of the i3's rear seats has a full set of LATCH connectors to help you safely install a child seat. The lower anchors are easy to find, but the small space around them can make it hard to move the clip around. The upper tethers may be confused for other hardware.

  • Like the front seats, the two rear ones are roomier and more comfortable than you may expect, though beware of the i3's high step-in. Rear passengers will have to contend with a large black pillar, but the peculiar vertical shape of the windows creates a good view out." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Happily, it's also supple and quiet in normal driving, making for an unmistakably luxurious experience." -- Autotrader (2015)
  • The front seats are comfortable and their raised positioning gives the driver excellent outward visibility. In back, the two-person rear seat offers decent legroom and plenty of headroom. There's also a wide opening to get in and out of (or put your personal items on one of the backseats) thanks to the i3's rear-hinged access doors. But getting in the back is a two-step process, as you must open both side doors to get back there. Also, getting in and out of the backseat isn't easy for taller passengers, as the i3's opening isn't all that tall." -- Edmunds (2015)

Interior Features

The i3 comes standard with automatic climate control, Bluetooth, HD Radio, satellite radio, push-button start, rear parking sensors, and an infotainment system with a 6.5-inch display and navigation. Available options include a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, a moonroof, front parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, a rearview camera, and active parallel park assist.

The iDrive infotainment system comes standard in all i3 models. It is fairly easy to use, with an intuitive menu structure that you sort through using a console-mounted controller. The system responds quickly, too, so you won't have to wait for it to catch up while inputting addresses into the standard navigation system. An advanced navigation system is available, and it uses your current charge state to suggest the best route to your destination based on the battery level.

See 2017 BMW i3 specs »

  • "As unusual as the cabin is, though, there's still a typical BMW array of climate and infotainment controls. The latest version of BMW's iDrive controller is pretty easy to use thanks to straightforward menus, crisp graphics and quick processing times." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "Despite all the high-tech gizmos, most of the i3's functions are rather easy to learn and use, aided by BMW's much-improved iDrive interface with available touchpad functionality." -- Autotrader (2015)
  • BMW's iDrive remains somewhat difficult to use, but the i3 version is better than previous implementations. The response time is quick, but we did have a hard time figuring out where exactly to click for various settings and items." -- Autoblog (2014)

Cargo

The i3 60 Ah and i3 REX have 9.2 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats and 38.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. The i3 94 Ah has 15.1 cubic feet with the back seats in use, and 36.9 with them folded. The i3 94 Ah's cargo capacity is typical for an EV or plug-in hybrid. Still, the Tesla Model S has almost as much room behind the rear seats as the i3 has with them folded, and that's not counting the Model S' "frunk" – the small cargo area under the hood.

The i3's cargo area has a useful shape so it should be easy to load. There's also plenty of cubbies around the cabin for your small items. The Model S, on the other hand, doesn't offer much in the way of personal item storage.

  • "To accommodate extra cargo, the rear seats split and fold." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • Cargo capacity is on the small side. … Unlike in most EV competitors, though, the rear seats fold flat and the trunk space itself is unfettered by oddly shaped, protruding panels. We also like how there's plenty of interior storage for water bottles or other small items." -- Edmunds (2015)

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