2011 BMW 3-Series ranks 2 out of 21 Upscale Midsize Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of 118 published reviews and test drives of the BMW 3-Series, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.
If you are looking for an entry-level luxury sedan that can serve as a family hauler and emphasizes performance, the 2011 BMW 3-Series is a great car. If you’re shopping for a soft-sprung luxury cruiser, this may not be the car for you.
When it comes to highly competitive, entry-level luxury sedans there are few cars that have a unanimous following among auto critics, but the 3-Series is one of them. The BMW 3-Series continues to win over reviewers, even as the competition becomes stronger. The 3-series has been one of Car and Driver’s “10Best” for 19 consecutive years. Judging from what reviewers have been saying about the refreshed model, 2011 may make that 20.
It helps that BMW produces the 3-Series with several motors, rear-wheel and all-wheel drive, and in four different body styles. Whatever your desire is, likely there is a 3-Series that will fill it.
Although the 3-Series can be considered a luxury car, its design is biased toward performance. This means the 3-Series has a powerful motor and a stiff suspension that some may find too brutal for daily, real-world driving. While this makes for a fun car at the track, the 3-Series has to compromise other luxury car elements, like a plush ride. Simply put, it is not as comfortable on the road as a Lexus ES.
If you’re shopping for a value buy, the 3-Series may exceed your budget if you like a lot of options. Pricing for a base 3-Series starts at $34,025, which seems relatively affordable, but once you start checking the options box, it becomes expensive quickly. Want AWD? That’ll cost you about $2,000, depending on the body style. Need an automatic? Cough up $1,375. Navigation adds on another $2,100. But, if you can stomach the price or don’t mind tapping into your kid’s college fund, the 3-Series is a car that reviewers find rewarding.
Other Cars to Consider
If you are looking for a comfortable luxury cruiser, the BMW 3-Series is not the right car for you. Good examples that feature softer seats, a smoother ride and aren’t biased towards sporty driving are the Hyundai Genesis and Lexus ES. However, if you’re shopping for a car with all-wheel drive, you’re out of luck with these two.
If you require an adrenaline rush on your daily commute, the Infiniti G37 may be the right car for the job. The Infiniti’s vicious V6 motor makes the base G37 seem like a performance bargain because it’s priced only $100 more than a base BMW 328i.
But, if you’re searching for a car with sumptuous interior, the Audi A4 will be the better pick. The A4’s cabin is one of the nicest interiors in the price range, but its base motor is a bit weak when compared to the base models from BMW and Infiniti.The 2011 BMW 3-Series is the brand’s bread and butter; it’s BMW’s highest-selling car. Not only are there sedans, coupes, convertibles and wagons, but there are also rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions. Additionally, there are several different motors. This means buyers have the choice of plain Jane, “that’s fast,” and “oh my!” With that said, we review the high-performance M3 separately.
For 2011, BMW gives the coupe and convertible some new cosmetic modifications to their front and rear. Additionally, BMW ditched the older twin-turbo setup in the 335i for a single turbo powerplant. Although it may sound like a bad idea for a performance car, don’t worry. The new engine makes the same power but is more fuel-efficient.
Also new for 2011 are a pair of new models, the 335is coupe and convertible. For 2011, BMW has pulled the old switcharoo as the standard 335i gets a single turbo motor while the 2011 335is retains the older, bi-turbo engine.Figuring out the appeal of a BMW 3-Series takes only the stab of the accelerator. Largely considered the benchmark for sport sedans, the 3-Series continues to wow buyers with its straight-line speed and tenacious grip when the roads begin to snake through twists and turns. Edmunds sums it up best, “Quite simply, no other entry-level luxury model can match the Bimmer’s exquisite combination of athletic handling and premium ride comfort The 2011 BMW 3-Series looks as though it is a carryover from 2010, but those with keen eyesight will notice the coupe and convertible have slight revisions. In fact, the design changes are so minimal that most shoppers probably will not pick up the subtle modifications that make the 2011 stand apart from the 2010 3-Series. Take, for example, the coupe’s slightly widened kidney grill or the new rear taillights. Overall, the 3-Series sticks to its simple, buttoned-down appearance