The 2019 BMW 3 Series has just regained dominance in the premium compact sedan class. After morphing into a pleasantly comfortable and classy ride, this new model resuscitates the sportiness of its earlier predecessors, grows to accommodate adults in the back seats, tweaks its trunk space and improves its fuel efficiency.
BMW, to its credit, knew the 3 Series had to be this good because the competition is crushingly tough. But if the competition is so fierce, it’s because the 3 Series has been the benchmark for as long as this class has existed. Buyers have some truly brilliant choices.
The 3 Series offers a finely balanced combination of comfort, class, tech and driving thrills. For a little extra variation, there’s also a wagon model with all-wheel drive as standard.
There’s no high-performance M3 sedan this year and the 2019 3 Series Gran Turismo hatchback (based on the outgoing generation) is reviewed separately.
What’s New for 2019?
It’s an all-new generation of sedan for this model year with a limited range. More variants will be phased in for 2020.
The wagon, however, carries over and is still based on the previous generation. The diesel-powered wagon has been discontinued. The remaining 2019 330i xDrive Sports Wagon (to give it its proper name) gains previously optional driver-assistance features of forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, a driver fatigue monitor and front/rear parking sensors. See the 2019 BMW 3 Series models for sale near you
What We Like
- New powerful and fuel-efficient engine
- Spacious interior with high-class materials
- Confident driving character
- Wagon variant has 53 cu ft. of cargo space, while the sedan’s trunk can accommodate 17 cu ft.
What We Don’t
- Selecting the ideal options soon becomes expensive
- Apple CarPlay isn’t standard
- Android Auto isn’t available
The entry-level 2019 3 Series sedan (330i and 330i xDrive) has a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine developing 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. This goes through an 8-speed automatic transmission to either the rear wheels as standard or all four when BMW’s optional xDrive system is fitted.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at an impressive 26 miles per gallon in the city, 36 mpg on the highway and 30 mpg in combined driving (rear-wheel drive) or 25 mpg city/34 mpg hwy/28 mpg combined (AWD).
Just to confuse matters slightly, the 330i xDrive Sports Wagon has the previous generation’s turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that has a lower output: 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. EPA figures are 23 mpg city/33 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined (AWD is standard here).
Both engines have a stop/start function to save some fuel while idling and premium gasoline is recommended.
Standard Features and Options
The all-new 2019 BMW 3 Series premium compact sedan comes as the 330i ($41,245). AWD (known as xDrive) is an extra $2,000.
The inventory of standard equipment includes 18-in alloy wheels, LED headlights, heated/power-folding side mirrors, a self-dimming driver’s-side and rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers, a powered moonroof, tri-zone automatic climate control, 14-way power-adjustable front seats with driver’s-side memory settings, simulated leather upholstery, selectable driving modes, 40/20/40 split/fold rear seats, an 8.8-in infotainment touchscreen, Bluetooth phone/audio, a USB port, an AM/FM/HD radio, a 10-speaker/205-watt audio system, a universal garage door opener, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning and a driver fatigue monitor.
A Convenience package adds remote locking/unlocking via smartphone, active blind spot detection, satellite radio and extra lumbar support. A Premium package adds heated front seats/rear seats/steering wheel, a head-up display, navigation with real-time traffic updates, a 10.25-in touchscreen, and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration.
The Executive package includes adaptive LED headlights with laser light and automatic high beams, a 360-degree camera system, gesture control, front/rear parking sensors and a partially autonomous parking feature. A Track Handling package has an M Sport rear differential and upgraded M Sport brakes. The M Sport package adds a sport suspension, 19-in alloy wheels wearing performance tires and an upgraded steering system.
There are two driver aid bundles. The basic Driving Assistance package provides automatic emergency braking along with active blind spot monitoring. The Driving Assistance Professional package adds adaptive cruise control with a stop/go feature and an Extended Traffic Jam Assistant (which allows hands-free driving on some freeways as well as helping out with the usual commuting grind), plus active lane-keeping assist.
Among the other options are a powered trunk lid, leather upholstery, ambient cabin lighting, wireless charging, Wi-Fi, adaptive M suspension, variable-ratio steering and a 16-speaker/464-watt Harman Kardon surround-sound system.
The 330i xDrive Sports Wagon ($45,995) receives a panoramic sunroof, a powered lift gate and roof rails to go with its station wagon body style, plus parking sensors front and rear.
The 3 Series comes with stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, forward-collision warning, and eight airbags (front, front side, front knee and full-length side curtain). The standard BMW Assist eCall telematics system adds automatic collision notification and an SOS button.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has yet to crash-test the new 3 Series. The previous generation received a perfect five stars overall, so it seems unlikely that this version would not perform to the same level. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has put the 2019 3 Series through its destructive process, awarding the top score of Good in all the crashworthiness categories, while making the car a Top Safety Pick+ when it’s fitted with the highest grade of headlights.
Behind the Wheel
The 3 Series is back. The previous couple of generations received some criticism for not having a sufficient enthusiast edge, the kind of quality that has contributed to making the 3 Series such a major player in this class over the years. The fun factor is high, but not at the expense of comfort. Nor does the larger body have an adverse effect on agility.
The new engine is smoothly energetic, the transmission acts quickly yet almost imperceptibly, the brakes are confidence-inspiring and the steering has a pleasant weight and feel (especially in our preferred driving mode of Sport). The quiet cabin has well-shaped and comfortable seats is the perfect place to enjoy the soft-touch plastics, user-friendly iDrive infotainment system and well-considered ergonomics.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 Jaguar XE — Fabulous styling and suspension, and the supercharged V6 is an ideal engine choice. Might feel a tad small to some, though.
2019 Kia Stinger GT — Not the most obvious BMW alternative, but the 365-hp Stinger GT has a lot going for it, including dynamics, styling and price.
2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class — Exceptionally graceful styling, slick dashboard and a pleasure to drive.
Used BMW 5 Series — BMW’s certified pre-owned (CPO) program could provide a low-mileage 5 Series for the price (or even less) of a new 3. The 535i is smooth and swift, but a suitably priced 550i with twin-turbo V8 power deserves serious consideration.
The main decision is whether or not to go for AWD. After that, consider as many driver-assistance features as possible. And you’ll probably want the Premium package to acquire Apple CarPlay. Find a BMW 3 Series for sale