2017 BMW 330

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$38,750–$42,950 MSRP range
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Road Test
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Key Specs

of the 2017 BMW 330. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Quick acceleration
  • Engine sound
  • Comfortable interior
  • Familiar layout
  • Strong brakes
  • Excellent ride quality

The Bad

  • Lazy transmission
  • Engine sound is artificial
  • Cramped backseat
  • Hefty sticker price
  • Dated looks, inside and out
  • Spring-back transmission and turn signal levers

Notable Features of the 2017 BMW 330

  • Five-seat compact luxury sport sedan
  • Turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine
  • Rear- or all-wheel drive
  • Six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission
  • Available sport packages
  • Multimode Driving Dynamics Control

2017 BMW 330 Road Test

Aaron Bragman
The Verdict:

Despite another mild update, the softer, gentler BMW 330i is starting to look old in an age of updated sport sedans.

Versus The Competition:

Compared with your average family sedan, the BMW feels sharp and poised, but compared with newer sport sedans, it feels built for mass appeal more than enthusiast fun.

There are smaller vehicles than the 3 Series in BMW showrooms — cheaper ones, too, designed to lure first-time buyers. This means the 3 Series needs to be nicer, more sophisticated, more luxurious and have more content than ever before so that buyers trading in the lease on their 2 Series will have something to look forward to.

Yet the BMW 3 Series sedan has been only mildly updated a couple of times since the current generation was introduced. This year's changes are powertrain-related, with new engines that prompted a model name change: I tested a 2017 330i, which was in 2016 known as the 328i (compare the two here). The new name is meant to draw attention to the all-new, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, replacing last year's 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The new engine has 8 more horsepower, at 248 hp, and gains a few more pounds-feet of torque, rising from 255 to 258 pounds-feet.

We're not sure why BMW's updated the engine for such a minor power bump (not to mention fuel economy went down 1 mpg on the highway), but we suspect it's in keeping with BMW's traditional strategy of changing to a new powertrain before changing the rest of the car in a major redesign a couple of years later (Other automakers, like Toyota, do this too).

Aside from a couple of color changes and the Sport Line trim now being called the Sport Package, the engine is the extent of the changes for the BMW 330i for 2017. So how does the new en...

There are smaller vehicles than the 3 Series in BMW showrooms — cheaper ones, too, designed to lure first-time buyers. This means the 3 Series needs to be nicer, more sophisticated, more luxurious and have more content than ever before so that buyers trading in the lease on their 2 Series will have something to look forward to.

Yet the BMW 3 Series sedan has been only mildly updated a couple of times since the current generation was introduced. This year's changes are powertrain-related, with new engines that prompted a model name change: I tested a 2017 330i, which was in 2016 known as the 328i (compare the two here). The new name is meant to draw attention to the all-new, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, replacing last year's 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The new engine has 8 more horsepower, at 248 hp, and gains a few more pounds-feet of torque, rising from 255 to 258 pounds-feet.

We're not sure why BMW's updated the engine for such a minor power bump (not to mention fuel economy went down 1 mpg on the highway), but we suspect it's in keeping with BMW's traditional strategy of changing to a new powertrain before changing the rest of the car in a major redesign a couple of years later (Other automakers, like Toyota, do this too).

Aside from a couple of color changes and the Sport Line trim now being called the Sport Package, the engine is the extent of the changes for the BMW 330i for 2017. So how does the new engine do?

New Engine, Same Experience

Quite well, actually. My test vehicle was a new 2017 BMW 330i optioned up the way you'd most likely lease one if you lived in Orange County, Calif. (where this car is ubiquitous). It had an eight-speed automatic transmission (a six-speed manual is also available) and rear-wheel drive, but no sport packages or any go-fast bits, so I got a good taste of the entry-level non-sport sedan.

The engine itself purrs well, but that purring noise is deceptive — it's not actually coming from the exhaust, it's coming from all around you. The sound is piped in through the speakers, which explains why it sounds like a straight six cylinder engine instead of a two-liter four cylinder.

I don't actually mind the sound. Plant your foot and the powerful little motor spins up quickly, propelling the car with authority and proving to be quite enjoyable to drive. It doesn't lack for power in any gear, but the default Comfort mode in Driving Dynamics Control makes the drivetrain and suspension feel lazy. Pressing the gas doesn't make a lot happen unless you dig deep, and the transmission isn't eager to downshift under slower driving conditions. When it says Comfort, it means Comfort: the 330i is cushy, relaxed and even a bit ponderous in its powertrain responses.

Pop it into Sport mode, though, and the sedan wakes up considerably. Throttle response is much more immediate, and the transmission holds lower gears longer for better acceleration.

"This is what I imagine a BMW sedan should feel like," I found myself saying after keeping it in high-performance Sport mode for a while. Problem is, driving like this all the time — with the motor revving higher while just cruising along — gets tedious. I would have liked a sportier Comfort mode and a more comfortable Sport mode, not a Jekyll-and-Hyde situation that forces you to choose one personality over another.

A Softer, Gentler BMW

One attribute BMW has dialed in well is ride comfort. Over a varying array of surfaces, very little upset the 330i regardless of what mode it was in. Chassis tuning is excellent, with little body roll, no impact harshness over bumps, and very satisfying sporty ride and handling.

Steering is much less communicative than enthusiasts will remember from previous generations of BMW 3 series', reinforcing the idea that BMW is now going after more mainstream buyers in an effort to chase sales. Shoppers getting out of a Toyota Camry and into a  BMW 330 will be impressed as hell with how the steering feels, but those cross-shopping new entries, like the Alfa Romeo Giulia, will be disappointed at the comparably bland numbness the supposed "Ultimate Driving Machine" exhibits.

Familiar, Outside and In

Inside, there's nothing new to report — and that's both good and bad. It's good in that the interior is still the same familiar, well-laid-out, comfortable and high-quality environment that it's always been. The materials are up to snuff, the multimedia system works better than it ever has, and the switches and levers all feel traditionally BMW — they'll be very familiar to anyone who's been leasing 3 Series sedans for the past 20 years. The gauges still light up orange at night in a unique and simple, highly visible arrangement that forgoes a gimmicky all-digital gauge screen, like the head-up-inspired Virtual Cockpit in the latest Audi A4. The front seats are still comfortable, the rear seats are still a bit cramped (not unusual for this class), and the 3 Series still looks, feels and even smells like a familiar BMW 3 Series inside.

But that lack of change is starting to catch up to the BMW 3 Series. It still uses an annoying spring-back transmission shift lever that can be confusing for people not familiar with the type. Spring-back, European-style turn signal levers are present, as well. Leather upholstery is still not standard, even in the mid-$40,000 price bracket, and neither is a backup camera. Audi has updated its latest offerings nicely, and the latest Mercedes-Benz C-Class has a stunning interior with luxurious materials and state-of-the-art amenities.

At least the 3 Series is still one of the safest compact luxury sedans you can buy, earning top scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and a five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

While it will help you survive the crash, though, it isn't as advanced as some newer models in avoiding the crash, according to IIHS' category report for mid-size luxury cars, which ranks the BMW 3 Series lower than competitors due to lesser performance in automatic braking tests.

Not Getting Any Cheaper

MSRP for the 330i I tested was $39,745, a fairly lofty price for a car that doesn't include a lot of advanced safety features. My test model added some popular and common equipment add-ons, like Driver Assistance Package and Premium Package, plus navigation, heated front seats, leather upholstery and 18-inch wheels for a grand total of $47,345. That's a lot of money for a car without forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control or even blind spot warning. So the BMW 330i definitely doesn't win on value, but given that leasing is very strong within the BMW brand, that price often doesn't matter to repeat buyers — only their monthly payment.

The new 330i sedan is ready for an update, a next-generation model to match some of the newer offerings on the market, but if tradition, familiarity and the badge on the hood are all more important to you, the latest BMW 3 Series still delivers.


2017 330 Video

Watch the video to see how the competitors of our 2017 Luxury Sedan Challenge fared in handling on an auto cross course and on the road.

Latest 2017 330 Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.8)
Interior Design
(4.8)
Comfort
(4.8)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.6)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Love It

by Faye, 1st time BMW owner from TX on June 25, 2018

Love the cars style, handling and all its extra features! The performance is great and the car and a lot of get up and go. Handles wonderfully Read full review

(5.0)

WOW! What a ride!

by my first BMW from PA on June 14, 2018

I test drove an Infiniti, Audi and BMW. The BMW definitely seemed to be "the most car for the money." I am mostly impressed with how spectacular this car rides. It performs so well. It is smooth, has ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2017 BMW 330 currently has 0 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2017 BMW 330 i

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Child Seat Anchors (Latch)

Ease of Use
marginal

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
acceptable
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Small Overlap Front - Driver Side

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Hip/Thigh
good
Lower Leg/Foot
acceptable
Overall Evaluation
good
Restraints and Dummy Kinematics
good
Structure and Safety Cage
good
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    48 months / unlimited distance

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by BMW

Program Benefits

Comprehensive inspection by BMW technician, 24/7 Roadside Assistance, BMW Assist. Exceptional vehicles with exceptional coverage

  • Limited Warranty

    Unlimited Miles for 1-Year

    BMW Certified Pre-Owned: Covers you for unlimited miles for 1-year, after the expiration o f the 4-year / 50,000 mile New Vehicle/SAV Limited Warranty for a total of 5 years with unlimited miles. This includes up to 5 years and unlimited miles of BMW Roadside Assistance and BMW Assist (TM) on many late model BMW vehicles. Additional plans are available to extend your vehicle's coverage for up to a total of 6 years with unlimited miles. See your BMW Center for details.
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 60,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a Comprehensive inspection.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The 330 received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*

Latch or Latch system

B

Infant seat

B

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

A

Rear-facing convertible

C

Booster

(second row)

B
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.
For complete details,

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker