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BMW i3 Review

The 2015 BMW i3 ranks 7 out of 14 Upscale Small Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of published reviews and test drives of the BMW i3, as well as reliability and safety data.

The 2015 BMW i3 is ranked:

Reviewers are impressed by the 2015 BMW i3's engaging electric powertrain, agile handling and high-quality interior.

The BMW i3 has strong acceleration from its electric motor, according to automotive journalists, with ample power from a stop as well as at highway speeds. The 2015 i3 gets 137/111 mpg-equivalent city/highway, and has a range of about 81 miles on a fully charged battery, according to the EPA. The i3's mpg-equivalent rating is excellent compared to other electric vehicles', and its 81-mile range is on par with other EVs' range. The i3 also has an optional range-extending gasoline engine that increases the i3's total range to up to 150 miles, according to BMW. Critics report that the rear-wheel drive 2015 BMW i3 has agile handling, with plenty of grip in turns and responsive steering, as well as a composed ride. They also think the i3 has strong regenerative brakes that may feel strange at first but don't take long to adjust to.

Auto writers comment that the 2015 BMW i3 has a luxurious interior for an EV, with high-quality materials. Reviewers note the front seats are comfortable and that the rear seats have a good amount of legroom and ample headroom, but some add that getting in and out of the back row can prove difficult. The i3's cargo area is bigger than in rivals such as the Chevrolet Volt and Spark EV, but the Nissan leaf has more room behind the rear seats. Test drivers like that the space has a conventional shape, which is rare for an EV. They think the iDrive infotainment system has a clear display and responds quickly to inputs. Standard features in the 2015 i3 include adaptive cruise control, HD Radio, Bluetooth, a USB port, automatic climate control, heated front seats, navigation, satellite radio and BMW's iDrive infotainment system with a 6.5-inch display. Available features include front and rear parking sensors, parallel park assist, a rearview camera and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system.

  • "The i3 isn't about maintaining the status quo; it's about showing that BMW can be an innovator in the EV segment. With its avant-garde styling and available Range Extender gas engine (yielding an estimated 150 miles of range), the i3 certainly breaks with tradition. We think it's one of the most compelling EVs on the road today." -- AutoTrader
  • "For electric vehicle shoppers desiring some sportiness and luxury-brand panache, the 2015 BMW i3 is a very compelling choice. That the i3 is also surprisingly practical only furthers its appeal." -- Edmunds
  • "There are several electric vehicles that can be had for less money, but few offer the dynamic driving manners or the premium creature comforts of the i3, and none offer both below this price point." -- Kelley Blue Book (2014)
  • "This is one of the smoothest, roomiest and slickest electric vehicles we've ever driven, with a lot of hidden surprises. It is a wonderful city car, and well designed for the car-sharing, emissions-aware drivers of the near future." -- Autoblog (2014)

BMW i3 Pictures & Videos

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Other Cars to Consider

According to reviewers, the Chevrolet Volt has a responsive powertrain and transitions well between gas and electric power. The Volt also has a much lower starting price than the i3, and although its mpg-equivalent on electric power is lower than the i3's, since it uses a gas engine as well as electric motors, it has a longer total driving range than the i3.

The diesel-powered Audi A3 TDI has an impressive interior with top-quality materials and an intuitive infotainment system, according to critics. The A3 TDI gets great fuel economy for the class, and test drivers say its turbodiesel engine provides plenty of power.

Compare the i3, Volt and A3 »

Details: 2015 BMW i3

The 2015 BMW i3 is a four-seat electric vehicle with rear-wheel drive. An electric motor and a single-speed transmission are standard. A range-extending two-cylinder gasoline engine is available. The i3 comes in two trims: base i3 and i3 with Range Extender. The i3 was all-new for the 2014 model year and sees minor changes for 2015. As a result, this overview uses applicable research and reviews from the 2014 and 2015 model years.

See 2015 BMW i3 specs »

Review Last Updated: 4/17/15

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