in 2011 Upscale Midsize Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $20,934 - $35,042
Original MSRP: $34,600 - $59,650
MPG: 18 City / 28 Hwy
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2011 BMW 3-Series Interior

This interior review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The BMW 3-Series boasts a passenger cabin that will satisfy even demanding drivers, with luxurious materials, advanced electronics and a level of fit and finish worthy of its class. However, it sacrifices some space on the altar of performance, trailing much of its class in both back seat space and storage. As the controversial iDrive system ages, reviewers are starting to like it better.

  • "Classic analog gauges, sensible ergonomics and a restrained overall aesthetic combine to create a pleasant driving environment, though there's less visual pizzazz here than in some rivals.” -- Edmunds
  • "Cabin materials have a sturdy, soft-touch feel." -- Consumer Guide


The front seats of the 2011 3-Series are impressive. They’re well-bolstered and even in their standard leatherette trim they are comfortable and durable. The rear seats, however, don't offer much room. Though it's an entry-level luxury car, the 3-Series borrows a lot of design cues from sports cars, including their tiny back seats, where space is a commodity.

  • "Sedans have little more space than a typical compact car. Headroom, legroom, and foot space are all cramped" -- Consumer Guide
  • "The base seats are comfortable and supportive, while the Sport package's purpose-built seats are even more so" -- Edmunds

Interior Features

The 3-Series is built with high-quality materials and an attention to detail. What still divides reviewers, even five years after its introduction, is BMW's iDrive system. iDrive uses a single dial to control all of the car's interior electronics, from navigation to climate control. While some reviewers find it intuitive, others say it's needlessly complicated. Still, one thing reviewers generally agree on is that the iDrive system continues to improve as the system ages.

  • "The recently improved iDrive electronics interface that comes with the optional navigation system is intuitive and one of the best interfaces of its kind." -- Edmunds
  • "The iDrive system has gone through another round of simplifications. The navigation menu looks suspiciously similar to that of Audi's MMI system; a few useful buttons let you bypass the system. We don't exactly love it now, but it's user-friendly enough not to make you run anymore. You can still skip iDrive altogether by not ordering a factory-installed navigation." -- Car and Driver
  • "Cabin materials have a sturdy, soft-touch feel." -- Consumer Guide


The trunk of the 3-Series sedans and coupes offer 12 and 11 cubic feet of space, respectively -- a bit small for this class. The convertible edition has a very small trunk to begin with, and nearly no storage space when the top is down. Some reviewers say the 3-Series lacks the interior storage space its rivals offer.

  • "Trunks have a low liftover, and the non-intrusive lid hinges help make good use of the available volume. The convertible's meager top-up trunk space shrinks to minuscule with the top down; there's just enough room for a single small suitcase with the top retracted" -- Consumer Guide
  • "Trunk space is average in sedans and coupes, while the wagon offers a maximum cargo capacity of 61 cubic feet." -- Edmunds

Next Steps: 2011 BMW 3-Series

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