The BMW 3 Series is an excellent car that boasts high quality, attention to detail and a long list of high-tech features. Sure, it's a bit less engaging to drive than it used to be, with less tactile steering. But the car is agile, steady and well balanced, even when pushed hard. It also still delivers a very satisfying and balanced overall driving experience.
Alerts
There are 6 recalls on this vehicle. Learn More.

Road Test Results

Performance
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
Fuel Economy Fuel Economy We perform our own fuel-economy tests, independent of the government's often-quoted EPA figures and the manufacturers' claims. Using a precise fuel-flow measuring device spliced into the fuel line, we run two separate circuits to represent city and highway consumption.
CR's Overall Mileage CR's Overall Mileage CR's overall mileage is a composite of measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course and highway cruising; and CR's 150-mile test trip of mixed driving, if tested. In recent road tests, we've discontinued the 150-mile trip test.
CR's City Mileage CR's City Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course.
CR's Highway Mileage CR's Highway Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed highway cruising.
Annual Fuel Cost Annual Fuel Cost The cost and amount of fuel used in 12,000 miles and is calculated from CR's overall mileage.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit,
Comfort / Convenience
Ride Ride Our expert judgment of how well the suspension isolates and absorbs road imperfections and how steady it keeps the body on various road surfaces.
Noise Noise Our expert judgment of the vehicle's interior noise level in everyday driving.
Front Seat Comfort Front Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the front seat is for drivers of various heights.
Rear Seat Comfort Rear Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the rear seat is for two passengers to sit across.
Interior Fit and Finish Interior Fit and Finish An expert evaluation of the interior quality and craftsmanship.
Trunk/Cargo Area Trunk/Cargo Area Our rating is based on the amount of luggage or cargo space that a vehicle has in the trunk or cargo area.

Owner Reports

Worse Better
Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
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Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
NA
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
NA
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
NA
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
NA
Owner Satisfaction Owner Satisfaction To learn about satisfaction, CR has collected survey data from our annual survey on more than half a million vehicles. Our subscribers provide great insights into their satisfaction by answering one simple question: If they had it to do all over again, would they definitely buy or lease the same model? In addition, respondents also rate their cars in six categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio, and climate systems. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
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Driving Experience Driving Experience Includes acceleration and handling
Comfort Comfort Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride
Value Value Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?
Styling Styling How it looks inside and out
Safety Equipment
ABS standard. Side air bags standard, available in rear from 2000. Head protection air bags standard from 2000. ESC standard from 2001.
Road Test

The BMW 3 Series is an excellent car that boasts high quality, attention to detail and a long list of high-tech features. Sure, it's a bit less engaging to drive than it used to be, with less tactile steering. But the car is agile, steady and well balanced, even when pushed hard. It also still delivers a very satisfying and balanced overall driving experience.

Ride comfort, cabin quietness and interior fit and finish are all impressive. The rear seat has gained a little breathing room over the years, but it's still tight and some controls remain needlessly complicated.

Seating
2 front, 3 rear
Drive Wheels
AWD , Rear
Warranty

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. The dealership can tell you exactly how much warranty is left.

Read more about extended warranties
Body Styles
wagon
convertible
coupe
sedan
Transmissions Available
  • 7-speed Sequential
  • 8-speed Automatic
  • 6-speed Automatic
  • 6-speed Manual
Engines Available
  • 2-liter 4 turbo (240 hp)
  • 3-liter 6 turbo (300 hp)
  • 3-liter 6 (230 hp)
  • 3-liter 6 turbo (320 hp)
  • 4-liter V8 (414 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2012 BMW 3 Series owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

What Owners Say

CD player

"the cd player skipped"

Doug P., FL (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)
Display screen goes blank

"The entire iDrive system went down. Turns out to be an AC adapter that blows the fuse. Parts had to be back ordered from Germany that took almost a month"

Anonymous, ON (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
External music device interface (e.g., smart phone, MP3 player)

"I had to replace the cradle connecting my phone to the car twice"

Anonymous, MA (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

"Unable to pair a nokia phone to this car but was able to pair same phone to Honda Odyssey"

Anonymous, CA (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"Occasionally phone book would not load"

Anonymous, PA (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i xDrive 3.0-L 6 Cyl)
Radio

"Loud intermittent buzzing from rear speakers that came and went without interaction"

Anonymous, MD (2012 BMW 3 Series 335is 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

"The power knob will not turn off the radio. Also we lose the radio for a couple of seconds while listening To be replaced under warranty"

Anonymous, FL (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"Audio system occasionally shuts off unexpectedly while driving when engine idle shut off engages (i.e., engine shuts off when car stopped at traffic light)"

Anonymous, CA (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"Radio wiring to speakers short circuited with loud noises coming from speaker until wiring was pulled"

Stuart R., CA (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

"logic7 sound system made loud static sound which stopped after a few minutes. From that point on the sound system became badly distorted. Sounds horrible though it still works. Includes radio, satellite and cd"

Anonymous, FL (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)
Display screen freezes up

"Just as note screen freezes"

Anonymous, PA (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i xDrive 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

Air or water leaks

"water leak in front passenger door. I took several trips to the dealer and months to diagnose and fix"

Anonymous, MA (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)
Squeaks or rattles

"A slight squeak / rattle has developed in the panel on the front driver door. It is not obvious most of the time but when you go over bumps it does become evident"

Anonymous, MN (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"Needed to replace entire dashboard due to attachment bracket breaking"

Stephen F., CA (2012 BMW 3 Series 335i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

"Loose Head-up display system - replaced under warenty"

Anonymous, OR (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"the two front door rattle on road bumps. Turned out to be broken plastic fasteners inside the door panels. Had dealer replaced and fixed"

Anonymous, ON (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"The dash has suffered from numerous squeaks and rattles. The car was taken into the dealership but the fix was only temporary"

Michael M., MI (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"The vehicle consistently makes noise on the driver side window grommet/weather stripping"

Paul C., VA (2012 BMW 3 Series 335i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

"wind noise from drivers side window"

Scott P., NJ (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

What Owners Say

Battery (not hybrid or electric)

"Low battery warning was replaced"

Kenneth W., FL (2012 BMW 3 Series 335is 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

"The battery was failing much earlier than is expected"

Anonymous, NJ (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i xDrive 3.0-L 6 Cyl)
Coil

"the car started misfiring around 57k miles and it needed new spark plugs and coils"

Anonymous, NJ (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i xDrive 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

"3 of my ignition coils had to be replaced. My dealer ended up replacing all 6 so I didn't have to keep bringing the car back. No problems since then"

Teri M., NJ (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

"Engine would have trouble starting and would stall out multiple times during a cold start"

Anonymous, GA (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"The engine is missing when accelerating. The electronic diagnostic tool said one of the coils was not functioning, so it was replaced. The problem persisted, so a second coil was replaced, but it has not solved the problem either. I'm taking the car in for a third time tomorrow"

Anonymous, CT (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i xDrive 3.0-L 6 Cyl)
Electronic ignition

"Did not want to start on first try"

Steven W., MO (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)
Starter

"Car stalled while at stop sign and would not restart. had o have it towed to dealership where diagnosis was starter motor failure"

Chris L., ON (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

Headlights

"The vehicle was sold with a malfunctioning fog light. Quickly fixed by the dealer"

Paul C., VA (2012 BMW 3 Series 335i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

"Headlight burned out"

Adam J., MD (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Exterior lights (other than headlights)

"0ne driving light held moisture"

Anonymous, TX (2012 BMW 3 Series 335i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

"On both sides of the vehicle, the rear light housing came loos of the body. Thery were being held in place with a kcouple of plastic tabs"

Anonymous, FL (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"light cover was loose"

Anonymous, FL (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Tire pressure monitor

"faulty readings"

Anonymous, CA (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

"The trim surrounding the passenger window broke off and stabbed me in the hand. Took 2 days to repare at least under warranty"

Mark C., TX (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"seat stiching missing"

Mike G., AZ (2012 BMW 3 Series 335i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

"Rattling sound from rear dome light. Four attempted repairs without success"

John H., CA (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"front hood had to be repainted because of black dots that couldn,t be removed"

Mike G., AZ (2012 BMW 3 Series 335i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

"The paint strips that are in the rain gutter area has bubbled up in several spots. The paint on the front bumper and hood is heavily chipped and is starting to peel"

Michael M., MI (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

What Owners Say

A/C compressor

"Compressor had to be replaced. Not blowing cold air"

Anonymous, AZ (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

"Compressor seized up while driving when the car had about 56,000 mils on it. THis should not have happened in a car this new! This was not covered under warranty as the warranty expired at 50,000 miles"

Anonymous, NJ (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)
Automatic climate control

"After running the A/C system for approximately 45 minutes, the airflow into the cabin diminishes. The blower is still running, and putting the system into MAX A/C increases blower output, but only slightly increases air from the vents. Running hot air through the system for a time corrects the problem. After two visits to the dealership, they can still not find a problem"

Stuart B., NC (2012 BMW 3 Series 335i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)
Refrigerant leaks

"slow to cool. dealer fixed under extended certified pre-owned warranty. very satisfied with service"

Anonymous, TX (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i Unsure)

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

What Owners Say

Engine computer

"Engine showed problems when there was not a problem. Didn't show muffler problem"

Anonymous, GA (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 4.0-L V8)
Oil leaks

"I believe it was the seal around the cylinders that had to be replaced because of leaks. It was an expensive job"

Anonymous, CT (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i xDrive 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

"Oil was leaking on garage floor-dealer replaced oil pan gasket and another oil seal under purchased warrenty"

Anonymous, OK (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

What Owners Say

Exhaust leaks

"making noise. repaired under warranty at dealership. No further issues"

Anonymous, MA (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)
Muffler

"Noise increased. Engine is loud. The engine shut off is not smooth, it actually jolts the car at traffic light. At first I thought someone bumped me from behind. Not a good feature. I am not sure how much the fuel saving actually is in a year. Nois"

Anonymous, GA (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 4.0-L V8)
Other/unsure

"STOPPED WORKING; I HAD TO HAVE IT TOTALLY REPLACED"

Anonymous, PA (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i xDrive 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Steering wheel vibration

"Vibration at around45-50 mph"

David H., MA (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Tire wear is uneven

"No clue as to why"

David H., MA (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Steering linkage (includes rack and pinion)

"Due to road damage from hitting large pothole"

Anonymous, VA (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i xDrive 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

What Owners Say

Fuel pump

"Three visits to the dealership isolated the fuel pressure sensor as the culprit in a problem that caused rough running and complete immobilization on three occasions"

Stuart B., NC (2012 BMW 3 Series 335i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)
Sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor)

"Check engine light came on. Dealer said 2 O2 sensors bad. Replaced"

Leonard C., FL (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

What Owners Say

Calipers

"Dealership claimed that I needed new calipers for $4,000; but an independent mechanic flushed the brake fluid for $120 and fixed the problem with the pedal going all the way down"

Anonymous, FL (2012 BMW 3 Series M3 4.0-L V8)

"rotors front and rear were warped and pitted, respectfully. both sets were replaced under warranty"

Scott P., NJ (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

What Owners Say

"The knob fell off the passenger door lock. The entire door locking mechanism had to be replaced to repair the missing knob. Took 2 days and probably would have cost ~$1000 if not under warranty"

Mark C., TX (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"The hood latch system failed. They say the cable stretched"

Jim B., FL (2012 BMW 3 Series 335i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

What Owners Say

Slipping transmission

"Low on transmission fluid. 4 ounces corrected the issue"

Deborah E., TX (2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

What Owners Say

Turbo or supercharger

"Broken hose"

Kenneth W., FL (2012 BMW 3 Series 335is 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

What Owners Say

Antifreeze leaks

"Failure of expansion tank. Replaced without issues"

Anonymous, GA (2012 BMW 3 Series 335i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

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