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2018 BMW i3 Interior Review

Scorecard

Interior: 7.8

Aided by its spacious, quiet cabin, the 2018 BMW i3 makes for a modern, comfortable city car. Headroom and cargo space are above average for the luxury small car segment, and the infotainment system is easy to use. Top-notch materials (including some that are eco-friendly) augment a bold interior design for a look that some will adore and others will abhor.

  • Much like the exterior of the 2018 BMW i3, its interior is a design exercise that isn't for everyone. It's minimalistic, futuristic and environmentally friendly, and it either touches your soul or your gag reflex. The build quality is exceptional, and some of the materials have the look and feel of fine custom furniture. The responsibly forested eucalyptus dash and wide-screen displays reward the senses. Unfortunately, some of the other earth-friendly dash materials resemble attic insulation." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "On top of the i3's dynamic shortcomings, the heavy use of recycled material in the cabin leaves users feeling like they're in a cheap and underwhelming environment, despite the i3's premium positioning and price." -- Motor Trend (2017)
  • The i3 is unlike any other car. Vehicle information is provided by twin high-resolution display screens (one behind the steering wheel and one in the center of the dash). Every i3 comes with a distinctive combination of interior materials, and while not every theme will meet with universal approval, none of them are dull." -- Autotrader (2016)

Seating

The i3 has room for four people and comes standard with cloth upholstery and heated front seats. Upgraded seats trimmed with either synthetic or genuine leather are available.

For child safety seats, the i3 comes with two full sets of LATCH anchors. The lower anchors require some arm-twisting to clip in a car seat but are otherwise easy to find and use. Some caregivers may confuse the tether anchors for other hardware in the rear.

Both rows of seats feel roomy and comfortable. If you regularly use the back seat, the rear doors will be a love-it or hate-it feature. These rear-hinged doors can only be opened when the front doors are open, which can be a nuisance in parking lots and when dropping off kiddos. On the flip side, opening both the front and rear door grants lots of space to access the back seat.

  • "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 (2017)
  • 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 … thanks to the i3's rear-hinged access doors. But getting in the back is a two-step process, as you must open the front side doors in order to swing the rear access doors open. 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 (2016)
  • Rear passengers enjoy spacious accommodation for such a small car, with adequate legroom and generous headroom. Access isn't straightforward, however. The rear-hinged back doors can't open unless the front doors are open (there's no B-pillar), which is particularly inconvenient if another car is parked alongside." -- Autotrader (2016)

Interior Features

Standard features include a 6.5-inch infotainment display, a navigation system, Bluetooth, HD Radio, satellite radio, a USB port, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Available options include adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capabilities, front parking sensors, an active parking assistant, an 8.8-inch touch screen, a moonroof, a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system, and Apple CarPlay.

It doesn't take a Ph.D. to learn and use the i3's infotainment system. The base system is operated mostly through the iDrive controller mounted between the seats, and an 8.8-inch touch screen is available. The included Connected Drive makes it especially easy to find the next charging station while you're out and about.

See 2018 BMW i3 specs »
  • "To help you to find those charging stations, the 2017 i3 features the latest version of the BMW Connected Drive technology in the dashboard -- which downloads the location of nearby charging stations with availability onto the map and allows the i3's navigation software to account for traffic when choosing the most energy-efficient routes -- and in the driver's pocket with a smartphone app that allows you to remotely monitor the charging state and more." -- CNET (2017)
  • "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 (2016)
  • "Despite the high-tech gadgetry, most functions are easy to learn and use, aided by BMW's much-improved iDrive interface." -- Autotrader (2016)

Cargo

The i3 has 15.1 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, which is above average for a luxury small car. Its rear seats come standard with a 50/50 split and the ability to fold down, giving the i3 a maximum cargo capacity of 36.9 cubic feet.

  • "To accommodate extra cargo, the rear seats split and fold." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • 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." -- Edmunds (2016)
  • Cargo space … [is] not bad for a compact hatchback, but the Volkswagen e-Golf (for example) gives significantly more: 22.8 cu ft. and 52.7 cu ft. with folded-down seats." -- Autotrader (2016)

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