2015 BMW 3 Series

What's new for 2015? Only some subtle changes to standard and optional equipment are in store for the 2015 BMW 3 Series. Most notably, Bluetooth audio connectivity is now standard across the model line and heated front seats, navigation and a sunroof may be ordered as a stand-alone options. Ask a person to name a sport sedan and the first answer likely will be "BMW 3 Series." The 3 Series is practically synonymous with the segment itself and has long been a favorite with consumers and critics alike. Taking a look at this year's lineup, you might also think that at some point the car will become synonymous with "variety," too.

Sedan or wagon, rear- or all-wheel drive, and with gasoline, diesel, or hybrid-electric motors, the 2015 BMW 3 Series will appeal to a wide variety of car-savvy entry-level luxury shoppers. Having some of the nicest interior furnishings around and a reputation for providing sporty handling and a fun overall driving experience won't hurt either. Although the current-generation car puts more priority on ride comfort than previous versions, the 3 Series remains enjoyable whether you're seeking out roads less traveled or just driving to the office.

There are three gasoline engines offered on the 3 Series (four if you count the ActiveHybrid 3): two four-cylinders and a six-cylinder, all turbocharged. The recent addition of the 328d model and its diesel-powered four-cylinder provides an impressive 37 mpg combined EPA rating in the sedan. The diesel isn't slow, either -- we clocked the diesel wagon at just over 7 seconds from zero to 60 mph. Still, our favorite remains the 328i because of its unbeatable mix of power, fuel economy and value.

Exterior Highlights
Available in wagon and sedan body styles. Sedans available in 320i, 328i, 328d, 335i and ActiveHybrid 3 trim levels. Wagons available in 328i xDrive and 328d xDrive trim levels

The 2015 BMW 3 Series is available in sedan and wagon body styles. (A hatchback model, the 3 Series Gran Turismo, is reviewed separately, as are the coupe and convertible, which are now known as the BMW 4 Series.) Sedans come in 320i, 328i, 328d, 335i and ActiveHybrid 3 trim levels. For almost all of these, BMW offers all-wheel-drive versions, which it labels "xDrive." The wagon is available only in 328i xDrive and 328d xDrive trims.

Standard features for the entry-level 320i include 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, remote entry, push-button start, automatic wipers, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, six-way manually adjustable front seats, leatherette premium vinyl upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, BMW Assist, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, the iDrive electronics interface, a 6.5-inch display and a premium nine-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.

The 328i sedan adds a more powerful version of the 320i's engine, auto-dimming rearview and side mirrors, heated side mirrors, wood trim, eight-way power-adjustable front seats, driver memory functions and split-folding rear seats. The 328i and 328d wagons are equipped similarly to their sedan counterparts and also come with a panoramic sunroof.

The 335i sedan and ActiveHybrid 3 get unique powertrains, although both come equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, LED accent lights and a sunroof.

There are several bundled option packages for the 2015 3 Series. The Premium package equips the sedan or wagon with keyless ignition and entry (including foot-activated trunk or tailgate opening), four-way power lumbar for the front seats, the sunroof (if not already included) satellite radio and leather upholstery. To the 320i, it additionally adds auto-dimming rearview and side mirrors, heated side mirrors and eight-way power-adjustable front seats with driver memory functions. A Cold Weather package (requires leather seats) includes a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats and headlight washers.

The Technology package (not available on the 320i) adds a voice-controlled navigation system, a higher-resolution 8.8-inch display screen, a touchpad iDrive controller, a color head-up display, BMW Online with MyInfo (provides news and info to the car), BMW Apps (connectivity for select smartphone apps) and BMW Remote Services (allows select mobile devices to lock the car remotely, turn on the climate control and includes a stolen vehicle recovery service, among various other tasks).

For extra safety, the Driver Assistance package provides a rearview camera along with front and rear parking sensors. The Driver Assistance Plus package (not available on the 320i and requires either the Technology package or stand-alone navigation system) gets those items plus side- and top-view cameras, blind-spot monitoring, a lane departure warning system, frontal collision warning, automatic braking for city-speed collision mitigation and a speed limit info.

Additionally, there are three optional equipment lines for all but the 320i: Luxury (requires Premium package), Sport and M Sport. Each includes different wheel designs (up to 19 inches) shod with either all-season or performance run-flat tires, various color schemes and trim and upholstery types. The Sport Line (duplicated on the 320i as the Sport package) and M Sport also include M Sport suspension tuning, summer performance tires and 10-way sport front seats, while the M Sport further adds aerodynamic exterior trim and a sport steering wheel. The Dynamic Handling package (not available on 320i) furthers the 3 Series' capabilities with an adaptive suspension and automatic variable-ratio steering.

For the 320i, other option highlights include the sunroof, eight-way power front seats with driver memory functions, heated front seats, split-fold rear seats, the navigation system with iDrive touchpad and a Lighting package with adaptive xenon headlights and LED accent lights. For the rest of the 3 Series model line you can further add upgraded M Sport brakes, an automated parallel parking system, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam control, rear window sunshades, a live-operator concierge service, a leather-trimmed dashboard and an upgraded 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.

Plenty of personal customization available, basic 6.5-inch display screen, comfortable front seats, spacious back seat, above average trunk space

Although the 3 Series cabin has a contemporary feel, BMW has taken pains to make sure it's still a comfortable and inviting place. The company's classic analog gauges provide a historical link with BMWs of previous decades, while the optional thematic equipment lines allow plenty of personal customization. Materials quality is exceptional throughout, and it's all put together with care.

In terms of technology, the basic 6.5-inch display screen is adequate, but you'll want to get the larger, optional screen for a true luxury electronics interface. The touchpad on top of the iDrive controller can be used to hand write inputs using your finger. Overall, iDrive is pretty easy to use, thanks to straightforward menus, crisp graphics and quick processing times. But compared to some rival systems, it typically requires a few more twirls and clicks to get what you want.

The base model manually adjusted front seats are comfortable and supportive, while those included in the Sport packages are even more so. Both offer an impressive amount of adjustment regardless of whether you get manual or power operation. If rear seat accommodations are a priority, you won't find a more spacious backseat in the entry-luxury car class. Rear legroom is particularly generous. Trunk space is above average in the sedan (13 cubic feet), while the wagon offers a maximum cargo capacity of 53 cubic feet with its seats folded.

Every 2015 BMW 3 Series comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and front knee airbags.

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