2013 BMW 3-Series Comfort & Quality

8.0
Comfort & Quality

The 2013 BMW 3-Series is a compact sedan—and a sport sedan at that—and while seating space in front feels uncompromised, this isn't probably isn't a model to use for primary family duty.

The new 3-Series is just a few inches longer than the outgoing model, and measures bumper to bumper at 183 inches long.

The 3-Series is bigger than most of its rivals this time around, and with a wagon on the way, it's a flexible family option, too.

With last year's redesign, the 3-Series got a couple of extra inches of length and wheelbase, with most of that About two inches of that going to extra legroom in back. But it's worth remembering that the 3-Series is first and foremost a sport sedan, and packaging can take second stage to proportions and weight distribution. With better seat contouring and that added inch or two, it's now possible to fit adults in back, although taller occupants will still be splaying their knees and you won't want to subject adults to vast distances in the back seat. It's no executive limo, but it'll fit kids or a quick lunch with co-workers just fine.

The 3-Series redeems itself in front, where there's plenty of space for a wide range of body types. Whether standard or Sport seats, the 3-Series boasts plenty of flexibility for long legs, including extendable thigh support and plentiful side bolstering. Sport seats just up the ante on all of the above.

Trunk space is impressive, even though the trunk opening can be a bit small for fitting larger or longer items. As with some other premium models, you can move your foot under the rear bumper to pop the trunk when your hands are full, if you have the keyfob in your pocket.

In any of the 2013 3-Series models, ride quality is superb. Base 328i cars ride on tires with a taller sidewall, which means the ride is a little more compliant. Moving up to bigger wheels doesn't necessarily spoil the ride, which is uncommonly good for a car that runs on standard run-flat tires. That can't be said of most of this model's rivals, which can get pretty harsh with their top-performing (or showiest) setups.

Likewise, the 3-Series can be a little noisy on rough surfaces, but compared to others in its class, such as the Lexus IS or Infiniti G37, the 3-Series is very quiet. Even four-cylinder models are geared tall for highway cruising.

As one footnote, the engine sound from the four-cylinder engine in the 328i involves a fair amount of almost diesel-like direct-injection clatter at low speeds. The turbo six doesn't sound as pure and sweet as BMW's naturally aspirated six (which you can still get in the 328i Coupe and Convertible), but it has a brash yet refined sound of its own.

Across the lineup, you get the latest version of iDrive, which requires you to use a multi-way controller down on the center console to navigate menus for non-essential functions. It's much easier to intuit than earlier versions of the system, and we don't seeing it as a deal-breaker, yet you'll want to spend some time getting a tutorial at the dealership.

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