2009 BMW 335

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$6,589–$18,025 Inventory Prices
Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
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Safety & Recalls
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Key Specs

of the 2009 BMW 335. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    29 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    265-hp, 3.0-liter I-6 (diesel)
  • Drivetrain:
    Rear-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    6-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Dynamics
  • Gas engine power and refinement
  • Massive diesel torque
  • Diesel fuel economy
  • iDrive is easier to use
  • Routine maintenance covered for four years/50,000 miles

The Bad

  • Small cabin
  • Folding backseat not standard
  • Manual transmission shifter is too tall
  • Top-down chassis shudder on rough roads (convertible)
  • Polarized sunglasses make audio display's readouts disappear
2009 BMW 335 exterior side view

Notable Features of the 2009 BMW 335

  • New diesel-powered 335d
  • Restyled exterior
  • Revised iDrive system
  • Various body styles
  • RWD or AWD

2009 BMW 335 Road Test

Joe Wiesenfelder
The 3 Series sedans, coupes and wagons are excellent performers, which is why I've always liked them. It's also the main reason the 3 Series has owned the compact luxury-car market for as long as there's been one. What's changed, though, is that competitors have adopted the BMW formula in the past decade and are coming up strong. They're a speck in the 3 Series' rearview mirror in terms of sales, but in performance, they're nipping at its heels, providing many alternatives for shoppers who aren't swayed by the BMW brand.

Most of the attention this year has gone toward the 3 Series' new clean-diesel model, the 335d, which we reviewed earlier this year. No matter how successful it becomes, its U.S. sales will be dwarfed by its gas-powered siblings, so I got caught up with a coupe version of the 335i, powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter burning good old gasoline and driving all four wheels through BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive. Click to compare different versions of the coupe and sedan.

Power to Lead
Engine power is an area where BMW let its guard down for a few years, allowing newcomers like the Infiniti G35 to pour on the horsepower — for less money. Then came the 300-horsepower turbo 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder that powers the current 335i, which makes it hard to care about any other engine. If you look at the horsepower specs alone, it appears that it's happened again in 2009 because Infiniti now has 330 hp in ...

The 3 Series sedans, coupes and wagons are excellent performers, which is why I've always liked them. It's also the main reason the 3 Series has owned the compact luxury-car market for as long as there's been one. What's changed, though, is that competitors have adopted the BMW formula in the past decade and are coming up strong. They're a speck in the 3 Series' rearview mirror in terms of sales, but in performance, they're nipping at its heels, providing many alternatives for shoppers who aren't swayed by the BMW brand.

Most of the attention this year has gone toward the 3 Series' new clean-diesel model, the 335d, which we reviewed earlier this year. No matter how successful it becomes, its U.S. sales will be dwarfed by its gas-powered siblings, so I got caught up with a coupe version of the 335i, powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter burning good old gasoline and driving all four wheels through BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive. Click to compare different versions of the coupe and sedan.

Power to Lead
Engine power is an area where BMW let its guard down for a few years, allowing newcomers like the Infiniti G35 to pour on the horsepower — for less money. Then came the 300-horsepower turbo 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder that powers the current 335i, which makes it hard to care about any other engine. If you look at the horsepower specs alone, it appears that it's happened again in 2009 because Infiniti now has 330 hp in its G37 coupe and sedan. Get behind the wheel, though, and you'll find it hard to contest the BMW engine's superior, visceral low-rev torque, responsiveness and smoothness. It feels good, it sounds good and ... it takes a good chunk out of your bank account. Compared to the 328i, you get what you pay for, but it's hard to make the same argument about the G37, whose 330 hp comes standard for $6,300 less than the 335i — and even $600 less than the 328i, despite the latter's 100 hp deficit (all prices are for coupe versions). Again, it's not just about the numbers. Torque freaks might find the 335i irresistible.

For all-wheel-drive models, BMW cites zero-to-60 mph times of 5.3 seconds for the manual coupe and 5.5 seconds for the automatic. The 328 model's 230-hp normally aspirated 3.0-liter is good for 6.8 and 7.0 seconds, manual and automatic.

The manual transmission is not quite as impressive as the engines. Specifically, the six-speed shifter isn't worthy of the car or the BMW brand. It feels rubbery as it slips into each gear — a complaint we've both heard and expressed for years now — but this stick feels disconnected from the works.

Stick-shift aficionados are a small but vocal bunch and represented disproportionately among automotive journalists and BMW owners. The appeal of driving a manual is one of those things that's hard for nonbelievers to accept — kind of like British comedy, the Three Stooges and Dane Cook (only two of those are worthy of debate). A large component of it is the feeling of engagement in the driving process — not just because you're doing much more than you would with an automatic, but because you are, in effect, part of the machine. The experience includes feeling the resistance of the clutch through the pedal when it engages, upshifting based only on the engine's sound and, yes, feeling a physical connection to the drivetrain. Each of these attributes, when lacking, brings the transmission another step closer to being an automatic.

In the 335i, operating the shifter is about as involving as throwing a switch. I prefer the G37's six-speed stick, which feels like a mechanical connection and tends to rock a little more as the engine loads and unloads the transmission. The 335i's gear ratios are right and the clutch is satisfying, if a bit light. You want to work the shifter frequently, but it doesn't add to the experience when you do.

In a Word: Handling
If you had to sum a brand's identity in one word, BMW's would be "handling." Whether you opt for a tiny two-seater or a big SUV, a stronger or weaker engine, a manual or automatic, there's one constant among BMW's models: rear-wheel drive with excellent front/rear weight distribution, and the balance and roadholding that come with it. (BMW's all-wheel-drive models are based on rear-drive platforms, which also deliver on the promise.) Owners might not know why they enjoy driving their 3 Series, but they do. I believe the model's long-standing success comes in large part from its driving experience.

Would-be competitors didn't get it for a long time, trying instead to compete on price and levels of luxury with front-wheel drive and other impairments. It wasn't until companies like Cadillac and Infiniti went to rear-wheel drive and put some engineering resources behind their cars' dynamics that BMW finally had some competition. Audi has held some performance cred with its Quattro all-wheel drive, and now that the company has modified Quattro to bias torque to the rear wheels, its 3 Series challenger, the A5, has a feel sport enthusiasts can embrace. (Then there's Mercedes-Benz, which historically has exhibited uninspired handling in spite of its use of rear-wheel drive, and whose C-Class is only marginally improved.)

The 3 Series has lost none of its famed handling prowess, though our 335i felt a bit heavy, and its steering didn't have the feedback of the G37 coupe's in our back-to-back driving test. However, unlike our 335i, the G we drove had rear- rather than all-wheel drive; the extra hardware up front can sap some of the road feel out of any steering system. Still, if memory serves, I prefer the G's steering over the 3 Series', regardless of driveline. For perspective, we're talking top-tier stuff here, where the differences are minor. The A5's steering — vague and lifeless, even for an Audi — wasn't in the ballpark. It was at home, on the couch, wolfing Cheez Doodles.

On the other hand, the A5 offers an adaptive suspension option that the 3 Series lacks. The 335i's ride quality was more than livable with its optional 18-inch wheels and summer performance tires, but it does have the expected taut, sporty feel. The ability to select the ride's softness is becoming widespread and is typically appreciated by our drivers and passengers.

Interior
The 3 Series' interior is a mix of good and bad. The design is decent, but the materials are low-value — unless you opt for the added cost of optional upgrades. Having been criticized for interiors deemed too Spartan, which is a nice way of saying bland and unadorned, BMW has livened things up a bit in the past few years. The layout remains simple, in a good way. The positives in our coupe included the belt-feeder, a motorized arm that grabs the shoulder belt from the B-pillar and moves it within reach after you get in and close the door. (In a two-door, the shoulder belt either blocks passage to the backseat or slides far enough back that it's hard to reach — a task that gets more onerous as we age. The belt-feeder seems a nice feature to grow old with.)

Less impressive engineering includes the preposterous retracting cupholders — both on the passenger side. Flimsy doesn't quite describe these paragons of flimse. Then there's the stereo display, whose characters disappear completely if you wear polarized sunglasses.

Where the 3 Series doesn't live up to most competitors is in its standard equipment, from the materials to the features. Most notable is its use of leatherette — which is a nice way of saying vinyl — as standard upholstery in all trim levels, including top ones like our 335i with xDrive. Mercedes pulls the same scam, but Audi, Cadillac, Infiniti and other compact luxury cars start with leather. Our car did have the upgrades as part of the $2,650 Premium Package option, which also added auto-dimming mirrors, lumbar adjustment for the front seats, HomeLink and BMW Assist (similar to GM's OnStar) with Bluetooth connectivity.

The Coral Red color shown in the photos isn't the only choice of leather, but I thought it worked well; bold colors either do or they don't, and BMW's pretty good at making them work. Our car also had Gray Poplar wood trim, which in my opinion is superior to brown wood in many interior color schemes. Overall, the upgraded interior was very nice. Even though the standard-issue materials are lower in monetary value, they're of good and consistent quality in the 3 Series. The Audi and Infiniti models mentioned are hit-and-miss.

Exterior Styling
My opinion of design is of no greater value than anyone's, but over time I've come to recognize when a model has broad appeal. The 3 Series obviously has that, but what some people might call classic, I'm starting to see as outdated. BMW got burned by straying too far from convention in some other models (though the burn didn't seem to hurt their sales too badly), so they've been pretty conservative when redesigning this bread-and-butter model. Understandable, but it's time for a change. I think making a statement is part of luxury-car appeal, and if your new BMW is easily confused with a previous generation, you aren't achieving that goal.

Of the A5, G37 and 335i coupes we lined up, we found the BMW to have the least appealing silhouette. Arguably, the best-case scenario is for a sedan model to look like a well-adapted coupe. In profile the 3 Series coupe looks like a poorly adapted sedan.

Safety
With Good scores in frontal-offset, side-impact and rear crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 3 Series is a Top Safety Pick, along with the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Acura TSX. The Infiniti G37 and Lexus IS score Good in the front and side tests but fall short of the Top Safety Pick designation because their rear scores are Marginal and Acceptable, respectively.

Like most luxury entries, the 3 Series has six airbags and an electronic stability system as standard equipment. See the full list of safety features here.

3 Series in the Market
The 3 Series story is one we've seen dozens of times about products, services and people: The leader is unmatched but faces challengers who gain ground over time. If the leader is to hold its position, it has to evolve. It seems unlikely that the 3 Series will ever dominate the class as it once did, but it has maintained a healthy lead. In the first half of 2009, BMW sold almost 43,000 units. In second place was the Mercedes C-Class at less than 26,000. Audi, Cadillac and Infiniti hovered around 20,000.

If it were all about price and performance, the G37 would overtake the 3 Series in a year's time. Clearly there's something else that inures BMW buyers to high prices and comparatively stingy standard-equipment lists. It must be about the brand. Brand equity is a critical aspect among luxury cars, which are purchased to make a statement as much as anything else. Why a brand appeals to one person more than another is anyone's guess, and it's just as important as price, performance and quality. That being said, BMW will have to stay on top of things and keep the other aspects evolving. Inertia and brand strength will only go so far, especially if the competition keeps growing and improving.

Send Joe an email 



2009 335 Video

Watch MotorWeek on PBS. Check MotorWeek.org for times and channels.

Latest 2009 335 Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.9)
Interior Design
(4.5)
Comfort
(4.5)
Reliability
(4.2)
Value For The Money
(4.2)

Latest Reviews

(4.0)

sweet car to drive but high maintenance

by crm114 from Springfield on June 23, 2018

2009 335i coupe Pros: Good looking, great driving, love the twin turbo inline 6 with a 6 speed manual. Con: wallet crushing maintenance. I bought this used two years ago with approximately 68,000 ... Read full review

(5.0)

High torque, Fun ti drive, Handles extremely well.

by Kostas from Fullerton, CA on June 2, 2018

It has been an excellent commuting and fun car. My wife stole it from me! She loves it. Being a turbo diesel, it has high torque and superb acceleration!! Truly a sports sedan! Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2009 BMW 335 currently has 4 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2009 BMW 335 Base

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

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

Head Restraint
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
acceptable
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
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 335 received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

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