The 2002 BMW 3 Series represents the entry-level compact executive car for BMW, and it comes in four different body styles, including a sedan, two-door coupe, five-door wagon, and two-door convertible, comprising 10 different models. All come equipped with one of two six-cylinder engines and use a standard five-speed manual transmission. Currently in its fourth generation, the BMW 3 Series marks the best-selling model produced by BMW.
Body Styles: sedan, two-door coupe, five-door wagon, two-door convertible
Engines: 2.5-liter six-cylinder, 3.0-liter six-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed manual, five-speed automatic
Models: BMW 325i, BMW 325xi, BMW 330i, BMW 330xi, BMW 325Ci, BMW 330Ci
For the launch of the 2002 BMW 3 Series, only subtle changes appear across the line, including the addition of more standard features. The 2002 BMW 3 Series sedans and wagons get a minor refresh for their exteriors, while other changes to all models include recalibrated steering, reshaped headrests, and a modified center stack due to the addition of new climate controls. An in-dash CD changer becomes standard and bi-xenon headlights join the list of options. The movement of the gear shift alters for the Steptronic automatic transmission, and rear airbags become available for the coupe and convertible.
The exterior of the 2002 BMW 3 Series sedans and wagons get a facelift with the launch of the lineup. Changes include redesigned headlights, new bumpers, and a stiffer chassis. Bi-xenon headlights that provide a blue color to both high and low beams and can be set to automatic operation provide an option for all models of the 2002 BMW 3 Series. Other than these minor changes, the overall style of the exterior of the 2002 BMW 3 Series remains untouched. Sixteen-inch wheels come standard in the models with the lower-powered engine, while 17-inch wheels remain standard for those with the 3.0-liter engine. Power heated mirrors come standard as well.
As with the exterior of the 2002 BMW 3 Series, much of the interior remains the same for the launch of the new models. Due to the revision of the climate control system, the center stack gets modified in all versions of the 2002 BMW 3 Series. An in-dash CD changer joins the list of luxury features that come as standard with the 2002 BMW 3 Series, which include power locks and windows and a tilt and telescoping leather steering wheel with audio and cruise controls. The optional navigation system now has a larger screen due to the increase in size of the center stack. Leather upholstery either comes as an option or a standard feature based on the model of the car.
The back seat for all models has a split-folding capability to increase the cargo area. In all but the wagon, the cargo area seems small, and the rear passenger seating area feels cramped in all versions. Most adults find the head, shoulder, and legroom cramped in the rear seating area and do not feel comfortable for any but the shortest of trips.
Performance & Handling
The 3 Series models with the designation 325 come equipped with the 2.5-liter, six-cylinder engine that produces 184 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. Those with the 330 designation contain a 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine that provides 225 horsepower and 214 lb-ft of torque. All models come equipped with a standard five-speed manual transmission, but a five-speed Steptronic automatic transmission provides an option.
Both front-drive and all-wheel drive models remain available for the wagon and sedan body styles of the 2002 BMW 3 Series. The all-wheel-drive system is based on that found in the X5, which splits the power between the front and rear wheels in a 38/62 split. Those models with all-wheel drive installed also have an increased ride height of 0.7 inches.
The 2002 BMW 3 Series feels lively to drive, and it offers good acceleration both from a stop and while at speed. The recalibrated steering has improved the precision and handling, making it one of the best in its class. The suspension has been stiffened, which leads to a slightly rougher ride overall.
Traction control, stability control, and front and side airbags for front occupants come standard in the 2002 BMW 3 Series. Front head-protecting airbags come standard for all models except the convertibles. Rear side airbags also become an option for all 2002 models.
EPA Fuel Economy
BMW 3 Series, front drive: 18/27 mpg city/highway
BMW 3 Series, all-wheel drive: 17/25 mpg city/highway
- Powerful engine
- Steering and handling
- Build quality
- Luxury interior and features
You Won't Like
- Cramped rear seat
- Small cargo area
The best choice for the entry-level luxury car category.
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