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#21

in Upscale Midsize Cars

MSRP: $37,300 - $49,900
Invoice: $34,315 - $45,910
MPG: 25 City / 33 Hwy
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BMW 3-Series Hybrid Performance

Although the 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 is less fuel-efficient than competitors like the Lexus ES Hybrid and Infiniti Q50 Hybrid, reviewers like the ActiveHybrid 3’s ample power and composed handling.

  • "It's much like a 335i sedan, only faster, quieter and more economical." -- AutoWeek (2013)
  • "Even though it's touted as a hybrid, the ActiveHybrid 3 is a seriously powerful car. And no matter how that power is produced, it's intoxicating." -- Road and Track (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 comes with a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine and an electric motor, which combine to generate 335 horsepower. The hybrid powertrain is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The 2014 ActiveHybrid 3 gets an EPA-estimated 25/33 mpg city/highway, which isn’t particularly good for a hybrid car. Competitors like the Infiniti Q50 Hybrid and Lexus ES Hybrid both use less fuel.

Reviewers are impressed with the ActiveHybrid 3’s powertrain, saying that it transitions smoothly between gas and electric power, and that it provides good acceleration. They write that the extra power provided by the electric motor means that the transmission doesn’t need to downshift as often to deliver strong acceleration. Additionally, reviewers say that the transmission shifts smoothly and quickly finds the appropriate gear.

  • "Like the 5, the ActiveHybrid 3 works extraordinarily well. The powerful (55-hp) electric motor can propel the car up to 47 mph, and the internal combustion engine starts and stops almost imperceptibly." -- Automobile Magazine (2013)
  • "Despite the added weight, the ActiveHybrid 3 always feels determined, thanks to its generous amount of torque. The delivery is tremendously flexible, allowing it to pull tall gears at low revs without any trouble at all." -- AutoWeek (2013)
  • "Despite the taller gearing, the transmission doesn't have to downshift much, thanks to the extra torque of the electric motor, so the hybridized 3 doesn't seem to have to work to deliver its power." -- Car and Driver (2013)
  • "The BMW's willingness to perform is further heightened by an eight-speed automatic that spends remarkably little time hunting for the right ratio, while making creamy smooth shifts." -- Edmunds (2013)

Handling and Braking

Test drivers say the 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 handles well, with sharp steering and a suspension system that does a good job controlling unwanted body roll during cornering. However, some reviewers say that the ActiveHybrid 3 doesn’t ride or handle quite as well as the BMW 335i. A number of critics blame the extra weight of the 3-Series Hybrid’s battery for making the ride less comfortable and controlled when going over large bumps in the road. Some automotive journalists write that the regenerative brakes feel responsive, while others comment that the brakes can be a little jerky when the regenerative system turns on or off.

  • "The robust rear end also heaves over big bumps." -- Automobile Magazine (2013)
  • "The inherent response in the steering makes it fun to guide the ActiveHybrid 3 over winding back roads. The overall body control isn't quite up to the high level attained by the 335i, but with the optional adaptive dampers on our test car switched into sport mode, we discovered that roll is well suppressed." -- AutoWeek (2013)
  • "The car doesn't employ significant regenerative braking, so only a sensitive driver will notice the slight nonlinear feel to the pedal action." -- Car and Driver (2013)
  • "Trying to feather the brakes without jerking your occupants' heads is made slightly more difficult by the not-always seamless transition from regenerative braking to the hydraulic sort." -- Edmunds (2013)
Review Last Updated: 1/6/14

Next Steps: BMW 3-Series Hybrid