2013 BMW 3-Series Comfort & Quality

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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.

At about 183 inches long—a few inches longer than the previous version—the 3-Series is still very much compact by U.S. standards. 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 is bigger than most of its rivals this time around, and with a wagon on the way, it's a flexible family option, too.

The 3-Series redeems itself in front, where there's enough space for those of nearly any size or body type to get comfortable, thanks to a very wide range of adjustability, whether you get the base seats or the Sport model’s upgraded seats with extending thigh bolsters plus stronger side bolstering.

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. While the base 328i setup is definitely the most isolated, thanks mainly to its slightly higher-profile tires, you don’t sacrifice all that much in going with one of the sportier tire and wheel combinations. 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, you’ll find a bit of road noise in the 3-Series on some of the coarser surfaces, but it’s nothing compared to some other models in this class like the Infiniti G37 or Lexus IS 350. 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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