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Review: 2019 BMW 330i xDrive

Over the last quarter-century the 3-series has not only been the biggest seller of all the BMW models, it’s also found itself on Car and Driver’s 10 Best list more than 20 times.

By all definitions, that qualifies as a smash hit. It also puts a car reviewer, such as me, into a funny position: How can you possibly critique such a well-made specimen and not come across as fawning?

What, am I going to bust out a magnifying glass like Sherlock Holmes and inspect every stitch and seam, looking for an imperceptible flaw?

Nah. I’ll just fawn.

The Basics

The 2019 model of the BMW, showcasing the seventh generation since the launch of the sports sedan back in the mid-70s, sits a bit lower, longer, and wider.

That look not only provides a sleek, ready-to-pounce image, but improves an already-gorgeous exterior. Even in the somewhat-boring white my test model came in, it appeared like a beast you shouldn’t tangle with.

As for trim levels, it’s pretty much the 330i, or, if you demand even higher performance, the new 340 which is launching for the 2020 season.

Instead of shopping between trim styles, you can browse the options packages that supply additional toys and/or performance add-ons.

My four-door sedan came with xDrive, which is BMW’s way of saying full-time all-wheel drive.

It’s powered by a 2.0-liter twin-turbo 4-cylinder engine that delivers 255 horsepower through an 8-speed transmission.

The Inside

The idea is to envelope you in comfort and luxury while you race around town, and in this regard every box is checked.

The newly-expanded 3 series provides a fair amount of room for a smaller sport sedan, at least for the two people up front. I thought the back seat was slightly cramped. Although it technically can seat three back there, you’re better off limiting that to two.

The front seats have lots of available position controls, so you’re likely to find the combination that works best for you. Some may find those seats to be a tad too firm, but I thought it worked well for the type of ride you’re taking.

Good storage up front for a car this size, and by lengthening the 330 the designers were able to add a bit of trunk space, too. Plus, the rear seats will fold close to flat in a 40/20/40 configuration, providing additional storage.

All of the driver controls (although maybe over-designed; more on that later) were easily accessible, and the overall interior layout is stylish and functional.

The Drive

The first thing I noticed after pulling out of the driveway was the dynamic feel of the road.

The 330i uses its twin-turbo to deliver solid acceleration, and it felt to me like I had plenty of power to spare.

Once on the road I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, as this sport sedan craves turns. The steering is some of the best, and the overall handling is first-rate, too.

BMW leaves no doubt that they’ve crafted a machine made for twisty turns mixed with long straightaway fun. Solid braking, some of the best, in fact, provides a boost of confidence.

If I had to ding the car at all it would be in the overall smoothness of the ride when you’re dealing with imperfect road conditions. There were times that things felt a bit bumpy. I attribute that to the M Sport package and its finely-tuned suspension. The run-flat tire choice could have played a part in this as well.

But none of this took away too much from the spirited, nimble ride.

The Tech

Thankfully, controls for audio and climate were pretty simple. In my mind, however, the dashboard struck me as a bit over-teched, if there’s such a phrase.

You’ll find yourself distracted because of the various screens you need to maneuver at times. While some of the controls have easy buttons on the dash, others require you to take a trip down the screen’s rabbit hole.

So unnecessary, but luxury car makers don’t seem to ever get the memo from drivers that we’d rather have ease of use. For whatever reason they insist on wowing us with tech design.

You get plenty of terrific safety features, though. The 360-degree camera is terrific, and the adaptive cruise control is nice. The lane keep assist can sometimes be unnerving until you get used to it. Let’s put it this way: BMW really wants you to use your turn signal when changing lanes.

There’s wireless charging just in front of the shifter, and the center console bin holds a USB port for connecting.

Apple CarPlay is available. I had a few issues with it during the week, which was puzzling. Usually it worked fine, at other times it struggled for a few moments.

There’s still no connection for Android Auto.

The Bottom Line

Hey, it’s one of BMW’s signature rides, a car that keeps winning awards and continues to sell like a crazy.

It delivers a comfortable, luxurious ride and has enough power to satisfy your need for speed. All of this while providing pretty good fuel economy, to boot.

While the tech aspect leaves a little bit to be desired, the overall experience is outstanding. There are quite a few standard features, but adding some of the options packages can be pricey. My test car had the M Sport, Premium, and Executive packages, which added $15k to the price.

Once again the 3-series, including this new generation, provides fun in a sporty way.

The Details

2019 BMW 330i Sedan
2.0-liter twin-turbo 4-cylinder engine
8-speed automatic transmission
BMW xDrive (all-wheel drive) as an option
Fuel economy: 25/34/28 combined
MSRP: $42,250
As tested (with 3 options packages): $57,420

Reviewed by Dom Testa
Vehicle provided by manufacturer


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