BMW 3, something to consider
The 5th generation BMW 3 Series went on sale in 2005 as a 2006 model. First sold only as a four-door sedan (designated E90), the 3 Series also became available as a convertible (E93), a sport wagon (E91) and a coupe (E92, starting in 2007). The 3 Series sedans are the best selling entry level luxury cars in North America and came as the 323i, 325i and 330i. The high performance M3 was added in 2008 with 420-hp V8 engine and 0-100 km/h performance in less than 5.0 seconds. The entry level 323i was not sold in the U.S. but was available to more frugal Canadian buyers at $35,200. Generally, the lower prices in our chart will be for this model. The 323i was not originally available with power seats, Dakota leather, automatic climate control or a navigation system, and came only with a six-speaker sound system and 16-inch wheels. Over the years, content level improved, but items such as heated seats and Bluetooth remained optional. Climate control was added in 2008 and 17-inch alloy wheels in 2009. A luxury edition 323i was sold in 2011 with $3,500 worth of upgrades including automatic transmission, power front seats, sunroof and 17-inch alloy wheels.
THE GOOD STUFF
In crash tests, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rated the 2006 sedan as “good” - its top mark. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave it just 4 out of 5 stars in frontal offset collisions and for rollover protection. In 2006, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) named the 3 Series Best New Sports Sedan - one of many awards it has earned over the years. For 20 years, from 1992 to 2011, the 3 Series has been named one of Car and Driver magazine’s 10 best vehicles. All-wheel drive is available in 325xi and 330xi versions.
The 3 Series sedans could be ordered with BMW’s iDrive controller (for climate, audio and navigation systems), which was especially confusing to operate in earlier models. Although the much criticized rear seat was improved with the fifth generation, legroom is cramped when taller people are sitting up front and headroom is tight in the rear for those over six-feet tall. Also, the firm sport suspension that makes these cars handle so well can be harsh on rough pavement, and run-flat tires ride hard and are noisy.
With BMW’s standard 4 years/80,000 km warranty, many late model examples still may have factory coverage remaining. That’s good, because when they break BMWs are expensive to repair. Shop around, buy from a reputable dealer and ask to see service records. Be picky, because these cars were popular when new and there are lots from which to choose. The sixth generation 3 Series went on sale this spring as a 2012 model.
PRICES AT A GLANCE
Note:These are asking prices, not selling prices, in a cross-Canada survey using Autonet.ca. Prices tend to escalate when moving across the country from east to west.
Year Approximate price range
2006 $16,495 - $22,888
2007 $17,888 - $34,995
2008 $18,850 - $44,995
2009 $22,480 - $46,995
2010 $25,899 - $48,851
2011 $28,888 - $58,995
Engine:2.5L I6 (174 hp); 3.0L I6 (215 hp); 3.0L I6 (255 hp); 4.0L V8 (420 hp)
Transmissions:6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
Layout:front engine/RWD or AWD