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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2002 BMW 3 Series Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2002 BMW 3 Series Overview

For Those Who Love to Drive

The 3 Series is BMW's bread-and-butter car, if there is such a thing at BMW. Perhaps it's more like their toast-points-and-caviar car? Whatever you call it, BMW relies on the steady sales of 3 Series, which is their most affordable offering. Models include a coupe, a sedan, a convertible and a wagon; prices range from $28K for the 325i sedan to $43K for the 330Cic convertible. On two of these models—the sedan and wagon—BMW offers the option of all-wheel drive, providing added traction in snow and rain. All 3 Series cars can be ordered with either a 5-speed manual or a 5-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission.

Like all BMWs, the 3 Series is built for those who love the thrill of driving. If you prefer winding mountain roads to four-lane freeways or shy away from cars that have over-assisted steering and mushy brakes, you've settled on the right vehicle. Everything about these cars is designed to enhance the driving experience. You'll feel it in the aggressive suspension settings, in the quick throws of the shifter and in the precise throttle response. With the 3 Series, a symbiotic connection exists between the driver and the car.

A 2.5-liter, inline six-cylinder engine that produces 184 horsepower and 175 lb-ft. of torque powers the entry level 325 models. While this engine can move the 3 Series without complaint, it does so without any real sense of urgency. For buyers of this model, superior handling and a sleek stylish body are its strongest attributes. BMW's larger inline six is a 3.0-liter engine that makes 225 horsepower and 215 lb-ft. of torque. Found in the 330 models, this engine is marvelously smooth and seems to have endless reserves of torque. Most everyone who drove the 330 agreed that the 3.0-liter engine is perfectly matched to the chassis dynamics and handling abilities of the 3 Series cars. If you drive a 325 and a 330 back-to-back, we're sure you will come to same conclusion. With this much power on reserve, the 330 requires your undivided attention. We found that when accelerating out of tight curves, the rear end could be made to step out, prompting the traction control to activate.

Great handling cars usually penalize their passengers with a harsh ride, but not the 3 Series. Even when shod with 17-inch wheels and tires, the Bimmer remains composed and civilized. Even more impressive is how thoroughly the well-insulated cabin remains free of the rattles and squeaks, a common side effect of vehicles with taut suspensions.

Climb inside a 3 Series and you'll discover supportive bucket seats that can comfortably hold their occupants for hours on end. For those who need more support, BMW offers an outstanding set of sport seats as part of a Sport Package option. Rear seat legroom is not generous, but it is on par with other competitors like the A4 and IS 300. The instrument cluster includes a tachometer, speedometer, fuel and temperature gauges and digital readouts for the optional on-board trip computer. Audio and ventilation controls are within easy reach, but are represented by orange-colored digital readouts that can be difficult to read in bright sunlight or when wearing polarized lenses. Interior fit and finish is excellent, as is the choice of materials selected to cover the dash, door panels and overhead roof liner. Attention to detail is evident in even the most sublime touches, such as the tiny overhead bulbs that bathe the manual transmission selector in a soft, orange light, making it easily visible during night driving.

The bottom line on the 3 Series is that they are fantastic driving machines with show-stopping good looks that will probably keep you happy for as long as you own one. If there is a fly in the ointment, it can be found in the extensive but expensive options list. Though the base price for both the 325 and 330 looks tempting, you'll find that adding popular options like leather seating, power sunroof, upgraded audio and the premium package can easily add thousands to the final price. If you want to know exactly what your dream car will cost, you can build your car on the Kelley Web Site first. Simply go to New Car Pricing, select the 3 Series model you desire and then click on Build This Car. You will be able to see both the invoice and retail prices for all the options as well as learn which options can and cannot be ordered together.

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