Premium compact car; Built in Germany
  • 2-door convertible
  • 2-door coupe
  • 4-door sedan
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $12,000 – $59,500*


2006 BMW 3-Series


2006 BMW 3-Series


2006 BMW 3-Series


2006 BMW 3-Series

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Front-seat space and comfort
  • Quietness
  • Ride (sedan)
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Cargo room
  • Complicated top mechanism
  • Back-seat space and comfort

More power and interior room yield a 3-Series that has matured without losing its sporty character. Expanded availability of AWD, too, has made it more appealing than ever. Base new-car prices have been reasonable for this class. Though BMW charged extra for popular amenities, making the 3-Series more expensive than many competitors, feature for feature, it’s still a Best Buy value for its resolute focus on balanced performance.

Overview

BMW began redesigning its most popular lineup for 2006, giving it new styling and more power, along with BMW’s iDrive control system as an option. A new premium compact sedan went on sale in mid-2005, as a 2006 model. A new wagon emerged in the fall of 2005. The 2006 3-Series sedan and wagon were 1.4 inches longer in wheelbase, 2.2 inches longer overall, and 3 inches wider than the 1999-2005 versions. Rivals to the 3-Series included the Acura TL, Infiniti G35, and Saab 9-3.

Every 2006 sedan and wagon had an inline 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine. All-wheel drive was available on sedans and standard on wagons; AWD models were designated with an “xi” suffix. Others had rear-wheel drive.

BMW’s 325i and 325xi models had 215-horsepower engines, up from 184 in the last generation’s 2.5-liter six. Wagons were available only as the 325xi. The 330i and 330xi models had 255 horsepower (30 more than the prior generation). For all, a six-speed manual transmission was standard, with a six-speed automatic optional.

All 2006 3-Series sedans included a sunroof, traction/antiskid control, front torso side airbags, and head-protecting tubular side airbags that covered both seating rows. Wagons had a larger “panoramic” sunroof. Also standard were a tire-pressure monitor, run-flat tires, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

Steering-linked xenon headlights were optional on 325s, standard on 330 models. An optional Sport Package included a sport suspension and 17-inch tires, to replace standard 16-inchers on 325s, or 18-inch tires versus 17s on 330 models. Active Steering, which electronically varied steering ratio and assist, was optional. BMW’s iDrive, which used a console “joystick” knob to control entertainment, navigation, communication, and some climate functions, came with the available navigation system.

Other options included leather upholstery, heated front seats, rear obstacle detection, and satellite radio. Also offered were adaptive cruise control, designed to maintain a set following distance; keyless ignition; and BMW Assist emergency and concierge service. The latter included an interface to use the audio system as a hands-free, wireless link to cell phones.

Coupes and convertibles continued unchanged into 2006 with the design that had been introduced for 1999, awaiting a redesign for the 2007 model year.

Yearly Updates

2007 3-Series
BMW’s coupe was redesigned for 2007, following the lead of the sedan and wagon. Coupes had their own styling, however, and were available with all-wheel drive for the first time. Measuring 3.6 inches longer overall and 1.7 inches wider than its predecessor, the coupe was also more than 200 pounds heavier.
Renamed this year with more powerful engines, coupes and sedans came in 328i trim with a 215-horsepower six-cylinder, 328xi with that engine and all-wheel drive, and 335i with a turbocharged 300-hp engine that replaced the prior 255-hp powerplant. Wagons were offered in 328i and 328i guise, but not with the turbo. A six-speed manual transmission was standard; six-speed automatic optional.
Steering-linked xenon headlights were standard on coupe and 335i sedans, optional on others. Rear-drive coupes got a firmer suspension and seats with extra side bolstering; those items were available in a Sport Package for rear-drive sedans and wagons.
A redesigned convertible arrived in spring 2007. For the first time, BMW offered an open-roof model that was actually a retractable hardtop, similar to the Volvo C70 and Volkswagen Eos. A complex mechanism automatically stowed the multi-panel metal roof into the trunk. Needless to say, trunk space suffered severely with the top down.
2008 3-Series
The 2008 BMW 3-Series line, anchored by the 328i, the 335i, and the all-wheel-drive 328xi and 335xi, got only minor changes, but added a high-performance M3 at midyear. The new M3 came in coupe, sedan, and convertible and got power from a 414-hp 4.0-liter V8.
2009 3-Series
The 2009 BMW 3-Series sedans and wagons got their first diesel engine along with slightly freshened interior and exterior styling. New for 2009 was the rear-drive 335d with a 265-hp 3.0-liter turbodiesel 6-cylinder that was emissions legal in all 50 states.
2010 3-Series
The 2010 BMW 3-Series was largely unchanged.
2011 3-Series
The 2011 BMW 3-Series coupe and convertible got freshened styling and a new sports trim level. New for 2011 were the sport-themed 335is coupe and convertible; they were powered by a 320-horsepower 3.0-liter turbocharged 6-cylinder engine mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. Note that the sedan was redesigned for 2012, but the coupe and convertible carried on in this form through the 2013 model year, and the wagon carried on through 2012.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear- or all-wheel drive

All 3-Series engines were 3.0-liter inline six-cylinders. Sedans and wagons in 2006 came in 325i trim with a 215-horsepower version, or as the 330i with a 255-hp engine. Power boosts for 2007 brought the less-potent model, now called 328i, to 230 horsepower. Turbocharging sent output of the 335i to an even 300 horsepower. All models could have either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive has been available with the less-powerful engine, but other 3-Series models have rear-wheel drive. For 2008, the new M3 came in coupe, sedan, and convertible and got power from a 414-hp 4.0-liter V8 mated to a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission. Added for 2011 was the 335is with a 320-horsepower version of the turbo 3-liter six and the same two transmissions as the M3.

dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/182
Engine HP 215
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 185
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic
20/30
21/29
dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/182
Engine HP 230
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 200
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic
20/30
21/29
dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/182
Engine HP 255
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 220
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic
20/30
20/28
22.3

Turbocharged dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/182
Engine HP 300
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 300
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic
19/29
20/29
Turbocharged dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/12
Engine HP 320
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 332
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
7-speed automatic
18/26
17/24
dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.0/244
Engine HP 414
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 295
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
7-speed automatic
14/20
14/20

Road Test

We have had no opportunity to drive a 328 with automatic transmission or a 335 with the seven-speed automatic that arrived for 2011. Neither 2006 engine has an excess of low-rpm punch, but they build power quickly and are strong around town or on the highway. BMW said a 325i could accelerate to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds with manual transmission, 7.2 with automatic; 330i in 6.1 seconds with manual, or 6.3 with automatic. Automatics change gears smoothly, but downshifts tend to lag behind throttle inputs. Manual gearboxes have silky smooth shift action. The turbocharged 335i of 2007 delivers abundant power at any speed, without noticeable turbo lag, for worry-free passing. An automatic-transmission 335i coupe reached 60 mph in a swift 4.7 seconds.

In 2006, a manual-transmission 330i averaged 22.3 mpg in mixed city/highway driving. A year later, a turbocharged stick-shift 335i coupe managed 22.0 mpg in mostly highway journeys. An automatic-transmission 335i coupe averaged 16.3 mpg with more city travel, including gas-eating performance runs. BMW recommends premium-grade fuel for both engines.

Aided by ingot-solid construction, the 3-Series favors taut composure over cushioned isolation. The base suspension is compliant, though sharp bumps can pound through. BMW’s firmer sport suspension can trigger abrupt vertical and side-to-side motions on uneven pavement.

BMW’s 3-Series remains the class benchmark for overall control and steering feel. Excellent balance is accompanied by sharp moves and little body lean with the base suspension, and it’s sharper yet with the sport suspension. Steering is precise and direct. Optional Active Steering aids low-speed maneuverability, but some testers have felt its activation point is inconsistent.

Powerful, stable braking rounds out the picture. We recommend AWD in snowy climates.

Both engines cruise quietly, virtually singing a refined hum under acceleration. Wind rush is evident at highway speeds. Tire sounds are subdued with the base suspension, but become elevated with the sport setup–though they never intrude upon conversation.

Most controls are close at hand and plainly marked, but audio and climate controls are compromised by their low-mounted position and some cryptic markings. BMW has been wise to make the complex iDrive control system optional, though anyone who wants a navigation system has to live with it. This iDrive is simpler than in other BMWs, as most frequently-used climate controls are separate. It still absorbs audio controls, though, complicating their use, and many functions require a long look away from the road. Rain-sensing wipers sometimes are erratic. Cabin materials look classy and have a sturdy, soft-touch feel.

In coupe or sedan, all but the tallest drivers can expect good front head and leg room. The standard manual tilt/telescopic steering wheel helps to tailor a comfortable driving position. Seats have excellent bolstering to secure occupants through turns, but those bolsters may make seats feel too narrow for passengers of generous girth. The Sport Package’s buckets are even more supportive. Rear visibility is fine, but thick front pillars can obscure vision to forward corners. Rear head room is tight for those over six feet tall in sedans, five-foot-nine in coupes. Toe room is limited with the front seat bottoms lowered. Leg room is decent in sedans, but it diminishes behind taller front occupants. Some riders may find seats too firm for best long-trip comfort. Front seats slide fore/aft in coupes and convertibles, but entry/exit still requires some twisting and leg space is scant.

Despite small volume, sedan trunks are usefully sized with low liftover and lid hinges that don’t intrude. Space can be expanded if optional split folding rear seats were installed in a sedan. The coupe’s small aperture won’t swallow large packages, but standard split fold rear seatbacks do enlarge the space. With the top lowered, the convertible’s trunk is laughable in size; better reserve the backseat for luggage on a long trip. Interiors could use more spaces for small-item storage. Bins and pockets are too small to be truly useful.

Ratings

Model Tested: BMW 335i w/auto.

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 8
80%
Fuel Economy - 5
50%
Ride Quality - 7
70%
Steering/Handling - 8
80%
Quietness - 7
70%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Front - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
40%
Cargo Room - 3
30%

Other

Value - 10
100%

Total: 66

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
108.7 180.6 70.2 54.4
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
9.0 16.1 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.0 36.5 41.8 31.9
2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
108.7 180.3 70.2 54.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
11.1 15.9 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.1 36.1 41.8 33.7
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
108.7 178.2 71.5 55.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
12.0 15.9 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.4 37.1 41.5 34.6
4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
108.7 178.2 71.5 55.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
60.9 15.9 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.3 36.9 41.5 34.6
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2006 3-Series 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Rear Passenger Injury - 5
100%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: A/C may blow warm air after driving about an hour due to an air leak near the evaporator sensor. (2006)
Air conditioner
Description: A/C may make hissing noises and is corrected by adding 90g more refrigerant to the system. (2006)
Coolant leak
Description: Coolant may leak near the 4.4L engine timing cover due to a failed seal. (2004-09)
Engine temperature
Description: The engine may overheat due to either an electrical problem between the electric water pump and control module or the pump itself. (2006-07)
Engine temperature
Description: The engine may overheat due to either an electrical problem between the electric water pump and control module or the pump itself. (2006-07)
Keyless entry
Description: The remote keyless entry may quit working because one of the door latches, or the gas door latch, draws too much electrical power which blows the fuse. (2006-07)
Mirrors
Description: On vehicles equipped with xenon lights, the power mirrors and windows may quit working if a connector behind the headlight gets wet and corrodes. (2006)
Oil leak
Description: The hydraulic valve adjusters (lifters) may tick when the 3.0L 6-cylinder engine is first started due to oil drain back and may take up to 30 minutes of driving to quiet down. (2004-07)
Steering problems
Description: Power steering assist may fade due to internal wear of the power steering pump. (2006)
Steering problems
Description: The paddle shifters on the steering wheel may quit working due to loss of electrical signal often caused by loose connectors. (2004-07)
Water leak
Description: Water may leak into the trunk due to a poor seal on the corner(s) of the convertible top. (2006-07)
Water pump
Description: Overheating can occur if the electric water pump fails, which will fail again unless a very specific bleeding procedure is not followed. (2006-07)
Headlights
Description: The headlights may vibrate while driving requiring an additional headlight support be installed. (2006-07)
Headlights
Description: The headlights may vibrate while driving requiring an additional headlight support be installed. (2006-07)
Electrical problem
Description: The universal garage door opener in the vehicle may not accept a code from a different (new transmitter or new owner) if the batteries in the transmitter are low. (2006-07)
None
Description: The hydraulic valve adjusters (lifters) may tick when the 3.0L 6-cylinder engine is first started due to oil drainback and may take up to 30 minutes of driving to quiet down. (2004-07)
None
Description: The universal garage door opener in the vehicle may not accept a code from a different (new transmitter or new owner) if the batteries in the transmitter are low. (2006-07)
None
Description: The right side (cylinders 1-4) valve cover or oil filler cap on the 4.8L V8 may break in cold weather due to ice buildup in the vent hose or valve. (2004-06)
Check-engine light
Description: The check engine light may come on and a code for excessive torque converter lockup slip may be stored due to failure of a seal on the converter. (2006)
Interior trim
Description: The decorative trim on the console heats up when rear seat heat is selected, which can become uncomfortably hot on the driver’s knee when contacted. (2006)

Recall History

2006 3-Series
Description: One suspension control arm and swivel bearing connection bolts was not tightened correctly and could loosen, which could impair vehicle handling.
2006 3-Series with the sport seat option
Description: The airbag occupant-detection mat under the front passenger seat may fail, and will illuminate the airbag warning and passenger airbag “on/off” lamps. In the event of a crash, the passenger side airbags, with the exception of the head protection system, will not deploy. Dealers will rework the front passenger seat sensor mat so that external force application to the seat does not cause a crack to the mat.
2007 3-Series
Description: One of the suspension control arms and swivel bearing connection bolts was not tightened correctly and could loosen and impair vehicle handling and control. Dealers will inspect the bolted connection and, if necessary, adjust the connection.
2007-2011 3-Series
Description: A battery cable connector may degrade over time, potentially resulting in a break in the connection and loss of power to the vehicle.
2008 3-Series
Description: Incorrect crimp connectors may have been used on the side air bag and belt tensioner wiring, resulting in a possible increase in the electrical resistance of that connection. The side air bag and/or the safety belt tensioner may not deploy in a crash and an occupant may not be properly protected. Dealers will repair the vehicles free of charge.
2008-09 M3 models with optional double clutch transmission
Description: In a situation of rapid vehicle deceleration, the transmission software may perform a multistage downshift. At low vehicle speeds, it is possible for the engine to stall. Dealers will reprogram the engine and transmission electronic control unit with updated software free of charge.
2011 328i and 335i with xDrive
Description: Front driveshaft-attachment bolts may not have been tightened properly. If they loosen, front wheels could lose power and cause a vehicle breakdown.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.