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2017 BMW i3: Real World Review

If you’re looking for information on a newer BMW i3, we’ve published an updated review: 2018 BMW i3 Review 

The 2017 BMW i3 is a unique compact all-electric hatchback. This innovative little offering exudes both a fashion sense and common sense. Stylish and efficient, the i3 made its way around our staff, and here’s what they thought:

On the Road

In city driving, the i3 rides and handles really well. It’s a confident driver, indeed. It was a little stiff when it hit a pot hole, but otherwise it was very agile.

On the highway, the ride gets a bit dodgy and cumbersome. We tried the adaptive cruise control in heavy traffic to see how it performed. It would come to a complete stop when traffic was still, but did not start on its own once traffic started flowing. That’s a bit of a letdown, but certainly not a deal breaker for those seriously interested in getting an i3.

In terms of forward visibility, we liked the seating position — the driver sits up high and has an excellent view of the road. See the 2017 BMW i3 models for sale near you

Electric Boogaloo

The i3 is a bit slow to charge. We plugged it in here at the office for 3 hours, and we only got 20 miles added. It seems to take a while to charge even when using a level two charger. Our vehicle had the range extender engine, but we don’t think that’s actually a necessity. With the updated battery and its extended range, the i3 should easily handle the average commute for most drivers. If you’re looking for a stylish city electric commuter, the i3 is worth a test drive.

The Space Within

The BMW i3 is touted as a 5-seater, but three people in the back would be pretty uncomfortable. However, access to the rear seating area is aided by the "suicide" doors and lack of pillars between the doors. The opening was wide enough to load one of our staffers’ 4-year-old into his child seat with ease.

The interior is well appointed, with a nice use of environmentally friendly and premium materials. The front seating was comfortable and provided good leg room for passengers. But overall, the i3 is a small vehicle that doesn’t have much room to accommodate in the rear hatch. There’s just enough storage behind the rear seat for a gym bag, computer bag and a lunch box. Good thing the rear seats fold down for hauling larger items. When we did that, we were able to load 15 large cases of water and sports drinks in the rear.

The BMW i3 handles the additional weight very well, and the rear didn’t appear to sag.

Our Take

The Range Extender adds $3,850 to the price of an already high-priced car. At $54,295, the i3 with Range Extender is not cheap. Honestly, we’d rather have the Chevrolet Bolt. It has twice the range over the i3 Range Extender, and it’s roughly $6,000 cheaper. And to some, it looks better, too. But that part is always in the eye of the beholder.

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  1. BMW dealers rarely sell i3 at the sticker price. So you won’t pay $54k. It is a “suggested” price…

    There is nowhere on the web or press that says the i3 is a “5 seater.” It has four seats – only. 

    Active Cruise times out if you sit still for more than about 5 seconds. Just like every other adaptive cruise control. you hit RESUME if you want it to engage after 5 seconds stopped.

    Charging at 32 Amps on a Level 2 charger is MUCH faster than your experience. I think your charger was limiting the current to 8 Amps. Plus, there’s always Level 3 if you can find one nearby.

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