2022 BMW 3 Series Review: Still the Standard Bearer

Look up "best sports sedan," and you'll likely find a photo of a BMW 3 Series.

Christian Wardlaw

 Review QuickTakes:

Enduring for decades as a desirable sports sedan for driving enthusiasts and a sought-after social signal denoting success, the BMW 3 Series is a compact sedan made first for thrilling dynamics and second for upscale accommodations. Turbocharged power is standard, all-wheel drive is optional, and the model range offers everything from electrification to track-ready performance.

What’s New for the 2022 BMW 3 Series?

BMW last redesigned the 3 Series sedan for the 2019 model year. In 2020, the more powerful M340i version arrived, followed in 2021 by a 330e plug-in hybrid version and a high-performance M3 model.

Now, for the 2022 model year, the M3 lineup adds a new Competition xDrive model, marking the first time the iconic performance trim version of the four-door sports car is available with an all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. In addition, BMW also adds a 48-volt mild-hybrid system to the M340i to improve both performance and efficiency. Otherwise, the 2022 BMW 3 Series lineup sees only minor changes to the standard and optional equipment lists.

You might want to pause your purchase if you can wait until the refreshed 2023 BMW 3 Series models arrive. In addition to updated styling, the 2023 3 Series gets BMW Curved Display instrumentation and a next-generation BMW Operating System 8 infotainment system.

How Much is a BMW 3 Series?

This year, 2022 BMW 3 Series prices range from the low $40,000s to the high $70,000s, including the destination charge to ship the car from the factory to your local dealership. BMW builds the M3 sedan in Munich, Germany, while other 3 Series models come from BMW’s assembly plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

2022 BMW 3 Series Trim Levels and Configurations

When BMW last redesigned the 3 Series, it decided to cancel the sports wagon body style for the U.S. market. That leaves a four-door sedan wearing 330i, 330e, M340i, and M3 model designations. All are available with BMW’s xDrive AWD system.

BMW 330i – The BMW 330i has a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and a launch control system. Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights with automatic high-beam operation, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and power-folding heated side mirrors.

Inside, the 330i features three-zone automatic climate control, a power sunroof, SensaTec simulated leather upholstery, wood interior trim, and power-adjustable front sport seats. In addition, the car has an iDrive 7.0 infotainment system with an 8.8-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, connected services, a navigation system, and a 10-speaker sound system.

Safety features include a driver monitoring system, pre-collision occupant preparation, and post-crash braking. BMW Assist eCall is standard, equipping the 3 Series with an SOS emergency call button and automatic collision notification. The 330i also comes with forward collision warning and low-speed automatic emergency braking.

BMW 330e – The BMW 330e adds a plug-in hybrid powertrain based on the 330i’s drivetrain. It supplies up to 23 miles of pure electric driving range and 28 mpg in combined driving when driven as a gas-electric hybrid. Equip a 330e with xDrive, and the price rises by $2,000 while dropping electric range to 20 miles and fuel economy to 25 mpg.

It also comes with Live Cockpit Professional, which adds a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system. It also has exclusive eDrive services that can help you find a charging station, monitor range and charging status, and pre-condition the cabin with heat or air conditioning before you drive the car.

BMW M340i – A turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine powers the M340i, and it uses a 48-volt mild-hybrid system to improve the car’s performance and efficiency. This model also has unique 18-inch alloy wheels, performance run-flat tires, an M Sport differential, M Sport brakes, M Sport suspension tuning, and variable sport steering.

You can tell the M340i apart from other 3 Series models by its sporty body styling, rear spoiler, and Shadowline darkened exterior trim. It also features aluminum interior trim, an M Sport steering wheel, SensaTec material on the dashboard, and ambient interior lighting. You access the car using a hands-free keyless entry system, and the M340i includes a head-up display, active blind-spot monitoring, and a lane-departure warning system.

BMW M3 – The high-performance BMW M3 comes with a twin-turbocharged inline-six, a six-speed manual transmission, an M Sport differential, and a heavy-duty powertrain cooling system. High-performance brakes are also standard, as well as M-tuned steering, adaptive damping suspension, stability control, and driving modes. Choose the available automatic transmission, and BMW upgrades the car to Competition spec with more horsepower and torque.

The BMW M3 employs 18-inch front and 19-inch rear wheels wrapped in performance tires, and it comes with a sport exhaust system with quad outlets. The hood is aluminum, the roof is carbon fiber, and the trunk lid is lighter than standard to reduce weight and lower the M3’s center of gravity. The M3 also has front and rear parking sensors to prevent bumper damage.

Power-adjustable, heated M sport seats with a single-piece back panel and an illuminated M logo are standard, wrapped in premium leather upholstery. Additionally, the interior is decked out in M-badged details, and the M3 includes satellite radio and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system.

Christian Wardlaw

2022 BMW 3 Series Review and Test Drive

Test Drive QuickTakes:

People use the adjective “iconic” more often than is appropriate, but it absolutely applies to the BMW 3 Series. Born in the 1970s, the 3 Series rapidly became an American cultural touchstone. To driving enthusiasts, it was a beacon of hope in what is now called the malaise era of automotive design and engineering. To young, upwardly mobile (Yuppie) white-collar career types, it symbolized success. And to a generation of teenagers addicted to John Hughes movies, it represented wealth, popularity, and the cruelty of social hierarchies.

That was a long time ago, but the 2022 BMW 3 Series still represents all of these things, and your opinion of the car may directly relate to the camp in which you find yourself. But if you’ve ever had the chance to drive a new BMW 3 Series, and driving is an activity that you enjoy, then the symbolism and social cachet associated with the car matters not a whit.

“Hold on a second,” you say. “I heard that the BMW 3 Series isn’t the driver’s car it used to be.”

That is true only if you measure automotive bliss by a technological purity standard no modern car can meet. For example, all of the BMW 3 Series’ competitors have electric steering, driver-assist tech, performance-enhancing electronics, and infotainment systems. And while BMW did stumble when it first began modernizing the 3 Series with these types of features, the automaker worked the bugs out long ago.

Christian Wardlaw

Today, compared to its contemporary rivals, instead of my all-time favorite 3 Series (the E46, 1999-2006 models), this BMW is the standard-bearer in its class and lives up to its “ultimate driving machine” billing. There is a caveat, though. You must properly option the car to maximize its performance potential, and that’s what BMW did with the 3 Series the company provided for evaluation in Southern California.

For this 2022 BMW 3 Series review, the test car came in M340i specification with the Premium package, the Driving Assistance package, the Driving Assistance Professional package, and the Cooling and High-Performance Tire package. Additionally, the test car had the Adaptive M Suspension upgrade, a SensaTec dashboard wrap, and a custom factory paint color called Barbera Red. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) came to $67,390, including the $995 destination charge.

2022 BMW 3 Series Review: The Design

Barbera Red is more of a cranberry hue, and the test car’s paint added a whopping $4,500 to the car’s cost. Now, this is just my opinion, but if you’ve got $4,500 to blow on a paint job, chances are you’re not shopping for a BMW 3 Series. Don’t worry; the M340i still looks terrific in BMW’s commonly available paint colors.

Our test vehicle did not have the complete Shadowline treatment, so the grille surround, front bumper air curtain intakes, upper mirror caps, and exhaust finishers matched the gorgeous Cerium Grey wheels in a 19-inch M Double-spoke design. Despite its overpriced paint, the test car was one of the best-looking BMW 3 Series models I’ve ever seen.

Thanks to its rear-wheel-drive platform, short front overhang, and cab-rearward design, the BMW 3 Series boasts proper sports-sedan proportions. Even if you’re not a fan of BMW styling, this car is dimensionally perfect.

Christian Wardlaw

The trade-off is a snug-fitting interior. Though it can accommodate five people, I think four adults should be considered the maximum capacity for longer trips. Entry and exit are tricky. The 3 Series sits low to the ground, and the middle roof pillar can get in the way as you slide behind the steering wheel or step out of the car. Additionally, the deeply recessed but properly supportive rear seating positions are situated further inboard than most cars. Combined with tight rear legroom, their cushion bolsters can make it hard to exit the 3 Series unless planking is a regular part of your exercise regimen.

Christian Wardlaw

Once everyone settles in, however, all four seating positions offer excellent support and comfort, if not much wiggle room. The test car’s standard SensaTec simulated leather upholstery looks and feels like the real thing, and while a 3 Series’ interior isn’t fancy in the traditional luxury sedan idiom, it certainly does exude quality combined with a modern, technologically advanced vibe. The test car had heated front seats. Heated rear seats are available, but you can’t get ventilated front seats as a factory-option no matter how much money you have to spend.

If you’re new to BMW, the control layout takes some acclimation. However, with time, and after you program all of the car’s features and settings to your personal preferences, you’ll discover that the controls are intuitive. If there is a misstep here, it’s the metallic finish BMW uses on the five central climate panel buttons. As a result, they’re hard to read due to low contrast markings and glare.

There is decent storage space within the 3 Series’ cabin, but BMW awkwardly locates the front cupholders, so they completely block the storage area forward of the transmission shifter when in use. Equip the car with the available wireless smartphone charging pad, and they’ll block that, too.

Christian Wardlaw

According to BMW, cargo space measures 17 cubic feet. That’s more than you’ll find in a Honda Accord, which has the biggest trunk in the midsize sedan segment. That figure almost feels too good to be true. Nevertheless, the BMW’s trunk can hold four full-size suitcases with some room left over for smaller bags or backpacks.

2022 BMW 3 Series Review: The Technology

BMW has come a long way since it first unleashed iDrive onto the world. In the early 2000s, using a smattering of physical controls on a car’s center console to coordinate operations on a static display screen proved a technological leap too far. Today, however, the seventh-generation version of iDrive can legitimately serve as a model for how in-car infotainment is properly done.

Christian Wardlaw

Like most modern cars, iDrive 7.0 supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, includes satellite radio, and comes with a connected services package that offers Wi-Fi, remote access to the car via a smartphone app, and more. A navigation system is also standard equipment.

As for the user experience, the center console controls remain. But now, you can also use a touchscreen display, naturally spoken voice commands, and even gesture controls to operate iDrive’s various features and functions. In addition, BMW also provides redundant physical controls for the climate system and stereo volume and tuning and steering wheel controls.

I find that I use five of the six available ways to interact with iDrive 7.0. In my opinion, the optional Gesture Control tech is an unreliable gimmick. Otherwise, when I drive a new BMW like the 2022 3 Series, I typically use the touchscreen, the center console controls, the dashboard controls, the steering wheel controls, and voice commands. You rouse the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant by saying, “Hey, BMW.” Then you can request directions to something, adjust the cabin temperature, change the radio settings, and more, all by simply asking or commanding. In my opinion, the Intelligent Personal Assistant is industry-leading technology.

Oddly, BMW does not offer a premium sound system in any 3 Series except the M3. That car gets a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system, while all other 3 Series models settle for the standard 10-speaker stereo. It sounds OK, but superior audio quality doesn’t seem like too much to ask when you’re spending more than $60,000 for an M340i.

Christian Wardlaw

In addition, BMW needs to step up its game in the head-up display (HUD) area. The test car had one, but it’s only faintly visible if the driver is wearing polarized sunglasses. That has long been a problem with BMW HUDs, and the company needs to address the issue.

The standard advanced driving assistance system (ADAS) package also fails to impress. However, when you put your driving enthusiast hat on, it’s better to have a say in what ADAS comes with your 3 Series than it is to pay for things you’ll never use.

The M340i test car had its standard ADAS plus the Driving Assistance Professional option package. It adds an adaptive cruise control system with stop-and-go technology; lane-changing, lane-keeping, and lane-centering assistance; Evasion Aid steering assistance; and an Emergency Stop Assistant that can identify an unresponsive driver and bring the 3 Series to a safe stop as long as all necessary systems are active. In addition, a Traffic Jam Assistant pairs the adaptive cruise control and lane-centering assist functions to provide semi-autonomous driving assist at speeds under 40 mph.

Christian Wardlaw

The ADAS functions that I could safely evaluate worked as promised during testing. It is worth noting that the lane-keeping assist system is aggressive about its mandate. That is great when the driver is distracted but irritating when you knowingly cross a lane marker only to suddenly and momentarily struggle with the steering wheel.

BMW 3 Series crash-test ratings impress. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the car five-star ratings in every assessment, including resistance to rolling over in a collision. In addition, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives any 3 Series with the upgraded Icon Adaptive LED Laserlight headlights a Top Safety Pick rating.

2022 BMW 3 Series Review: The Drive

Unless you are a rabid BMW fan or a demanding driving enthusiast, the 330i and the 330e plug-in hybrid are likely to give you everything you’re seeking in this car. BMW builds the M340i and M3 variants for people who believe the journey is often more satisfying than the destination.

Christian Wardlaw

Tuned by BMW’s M Performance team, the M340i benefits from several upgrades that make the car go faster, handle better, and stop sooner. The centerpiece is a turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine developing 382 horsepower between 5,800 rpm and 6,500 rpm and 369 pound-feet of torque from 1,800 rpm to 5,000 rpm. BMW bolts it to an eight-speed sport automatic transmission with steering wheel paddle shifters and a launch control system, and the power flows to the rear wheels or, with the available xDrive all-wheel-drive system, all four wheels but with a rear-axle power bias. An M Sport differential is also standard for the M340i.

“But where’s the manual transmission,” you ask? As a fellow three-pedal devotee myself, it is a bummer that you can’t get one in a 2022 3 Series unless you upgrade to the M3. The reality is that the sport automatic delivers quicker acceleration. In addition, few 3 Series buyers choose a manual gearbox, so it’s not cost-effective for BMW to offer one in the 330i or M340i. That might be a dissatisfying answer, but BMW is a business, not a charity.

Christian Wardlaw

According to BMW, the M340i accelerates to 60 mph in about 4.4 seconds with rear-wheel drive and 4.2 seconds with xDrive AWD. Of course, you’ll need to use launch control to get that kind of acceleration, but I can assure you that out in the real world, the M340i supplies more speed than you’ll ever need.

As expected, a BMW M340i isn’t solely a straight-line rocketship. Fortifications include variable sport steering, M Sport suspension tuning, M Sport braking components, and standard 18-inch wheels with run-flat performance tires. In addition, the test car had the Cooling and High-Performance Tire package, which installs larger 19-inch wheels with performance tires, and an M Technology package with improved engine and braking system cooling. Our evaluation car also featured the Adaptive M Suspension upgrade, which installs adaptive dampers for the M Sport suspension.

While a BMW M3 still offers next-level performance and handling, the M340i is a proper sports sedan in its own right. Smooth, willing, and seemingly able to supply limitless power and acceleration, the turbo six is nothing short of perfection. That describes the transmission, too, and while the paddle shifters are rewarding to use, I let the eight-speed sport automatic do its thing without manual intervention, allowing me to apply all of my focus on driving the car.

My evaluation route includes a section that I use only for performance models like the 2022 BMW M340i. It’s a demanding mountain road with a significant elevation gain (and steep descent on the return) over a short distance, complete with off-camber corners, decreasing radius curves, and punishing conditions for powertrains and braking systems.

Christian Wardlaw

The M340i turned in a flawless performance on this road, which is smoothly paved. So I pointed the BMW in the direction of another stretch of blacktop with patched sections, whoops, dips, cracks, and bumps. Here, the M Adaptive Suspension worked its magic, successfully eradicating the deleterious effects of imperfect pavement and giving the impression the M340i was glued to the road.

I know you’ve heard this before, and it is somewhat of a cliché, but the mark of a great driver’s car is when it behaves in a predictable and trustworthy manner regardless of the situation so that you can focus all of your attention and concentration on the task at hand. When this happens, the car feels like an extension of its driver. Unfortunately, while many automakers claim their vehicles deliver this transcendent driving experience, few do out in the real world, where unpredictable situations await around every corner and curve.

My verdict is that the 2022 BMW M340i is a great driver’s car.

Beyond that, it is also a great daily driver. Without the Adaptive M Suspension, the M340i might ride too stiffly for some people. But so equipped, the M340i is smooth, quiet, and even docile when you want it to be. Switch from Sport or Sport+ mode and into Comfort mode, and it loafs along in traffic with cushier competitors that could never match its outright capabilities. Also, the variable sport steering that transforms the M340i into a guided missile on your favorite back road is equally beneficial when parking the 3 Series in the city.

As for fuel economy, the M340i returned 24.9 mpg on the evaluation route. That’s not far below the official EPA fuel economy rating of 26 mpg in combined driving. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it, too?

Is the 2022 BMW 3 Series a Good Car?

The BMW 3 Series is the quintessential luxury sports sedan. Engineered to thrill, packaged to impress, and built to high quality, technological, and safety standards, it is the standard-bearer in its segment.

BMW 3 Series Competitors for 2022

Though the BMW 3 Series is compelling, it’s not the only game in town, and the competition has been honing alternatives for years. Rivals in the segment include the Acura TLX, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Audi A4/S4, Genesis G70, Infiniti Q50, Jaguar XF, Lexus IS, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Tesla Model 3, and Volvo S60.

BMW 3 Series Features

Highlights

The 2022 BMW 3 Series drives like a sports car, carries people like a family car, and coddles like a luxury car. It’s like getting three vehicles for the price of one.

2022 BMW 3 Series Safety Features

  • Fatigue and Focus Alert – Standard driver monitoring system
  • Post-crash Braking – Standard automatic braking system that brings the 3 Series to a stop following a collision
  • BMW Assist eCall – Standard SOS emergency assistance button and automatic collision notification system
  • Emergency Stop Assistant – Available feature that can detect an unresponsive driver and bring the 3 Series to a safe stop*
  • Traffic Jam Assistant – Available feature that combines adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability and a lane-centering assist system to provide semi-autonomous driving at speeds under 40 mph. It works only on limited-access highways*

2022 BMW 3 Series Technology

  • Infotainment system – Standard 8.8-inch and available 10.25-inch touchscreen display
  • Smartphone connectivity – Standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Intelligent Personal Assistant – Standard natural voice recognition system that allows you to control numerous vehicle features using voice commands
  • Gesture Control – Available feature enables you to control some features using hand gestures*
  • Head-up Display – Available feature projects essential data into the windshield where it is easily accessible to the driver*

2022 BMW 3 Series Interior

  • Triple-zone automatic climate control – Standard feature
  • Ambient lighting – Available feature*
  • Leather seats – Available feature*
  • Heated front and rear seats – Available features*
  • Premium sound system – Available 16-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system*

2022 BMW 3 Series Specs

2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine (330i)

  • 255 horsepower and 294 lb.-ft. of torque
  • 8-speed automatic transmission
  • Rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive
  • EPA fuel economy rating of 28-30 mpg in combined driving

2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, electric motor, lithium-ion battery (330e)

  • 288 hp and 310 lb.-ft. of torque
  • 8-speed automatic transmission
  • Rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive
  • EPA fuel economy rating of 25-28 mpg in combined driving
  • EPA driving range on electricity is 20-23 miles

3.0L turbocharged 6-cylinder engine (M340i)

  • 382 hp and 368 lb.-ft. of torque
  • 8-speed automatic transmission
  • Rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive
  • EPA fuel economy rating of 26 mpg in combined driving

3.0L twin-turbocharged 6-cylinder engine (M3)

  • 473 hp and 406 lb.-ft. of torque (503 hp, 479 lb.-ft. for Competition models)
  • 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission
  • Rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive
  • EPA fuel economy rating of 19 mpg in combined driving

*Availability is subject to specific trim level selections

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Christian Wardlaw
My first word was “car.” That’s what I’m told, anyway. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with them. The design. The engineering. The performance. And the purpose. I’m a car enthusiast who loves to drive, but I’m also most interested in the cars, trucks, and SUVs that people actually buy. Anybody can tell you that a sports car is fast. What you need to know is whether or not you should buy that new SUV, and why. My life purpose is to help you make that decision.