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Refresher Course: The 2023 BMW 330i

2023 BMW 330i front 3/4 view

Funny how things work when you write about cars for (part of) a living.

I get the opportunity to drive a fair number of BMWs every year (six in 2022, seven in 2021, four in 2020). Several of those have been variations of the 3-Series sedan. But the last time I drove the bread-and-butter 330i was more than ten years ago---when it was the 328i.

2023 BMW 330i rear 3/4 view

The 330i is the volume model of the 3-Series lineup, which also includes the 330e plug-in hybrid, the six-cylinder M340i, and the high-performance M3.

2023 BMW 330i engine

Under the hood of the 2023 BMW 330i is a two-liter TwinPower turbo 16-valve four-cylinder with 225 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The car is rear-wheel drive with an eight-speed sport automatic transmission.

The numbers-obsessed among you may think 225 is a low-ish number. So let's get to what's important---what it does. Zero to 60 in 5.4 seconds. Top speed 130 (155 with the right tires). And it is capable of that and returning 29 miles per gallon, combined city/highway, according to the EPA. That right there is the secret sauce---the reason the BMW 3-series (and the 2002 before it) elicited raves when it arrived and has produced quiet knowing smiles from those who've driven them. It's the compact sedan that produces speed efficiently. It's also equipped to put that speed to the best possible use---selectable drive modes, dynamic stability control, four-wheel ventilated anti-lock disc brakes with dynamic brake control and cornering brake control. The 330i handles superbly. And---not discussed nearly enough---BMW Ultimate Care---zero-cost scheduled maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first, with a four-year/50,000-mile warranty for repairs.

2023 BMW 330i trunk open

BMW 330i rear seat

BMW 330i front seats

BMW 330i front seat detail

BMW 330i instrument panel

Base price of the 2023 BMW 330i is $43,295, including destination. Standard at that price are the gorgeous Cognac perforated SensaTec interior you see pictured, power-folding heated side mirrors, a hi-fi sound system including a one-year subscription to SiriusXM Satellite Radio, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Live Cockpit Plus including navigation and voice control, Connected Package Pro (real-time traffic, on-street parking information in certain cities, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and remote software upgrades), multi-zone climate control, a moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, power front seats with driver's seat memory and LED headlights with automatic high beams.

2023 BMW 330i steering wheel and gauge cluster

2023 BMW 330i center console

2023 BMW 330i center screen and vents

Our car had extra-cost options---$650 for the Portimao Blue paint, $700 for the Driving Assistance Package (Active Driving Assistant, active blind spot detection, lane departure warning), $1,200 for the Dynamic Handling Package (M Sport brakes with blue calipers), $3,100 for the M Sport Package (19-inch wheels, adaptive M suspension, variable sport steering, ash grey wood trim, an M-spec steering wheel and an anthracite headliner), $1,350 for the Premium Package (heated steering wheel, keyless entry, driver's lumbar support and heated front seats), $300 for remote engine start, $875 for an upgraded Harman/Kardon surround sound system and an $80 credit for the deletion of BMW Digital Key (likely a supply issue).

The as-tested price of the 2023 BMW 330i sedan is $51,390, and the car I drove, as equipped, is absolutely worth that. But let's say that you simply want an excellent small sedan, don't need the M goodies and could live with a standard paint color. Delete the extra-cost paint, the Dynamic Handling Package and the M Sport Package, keep everything else and you're at $46,440. If you could go without remote start (I could), knock another $300 off. Now it's $46,140.

Maybe you could do without a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, keyless entry and lumbar support (I couldn't). Lose the Premium Package and we're under $45K---$44,790.

You can take the Harman/Kardon surround sound system when you pry my cold, dead ears...(seriously---it's really good).

2023 BMW 330i rear view

Point is, this car can be had---extremely well-equipped, even without the packages we've just discussed dropping, for less than six grand above a loaded Honda Accord. The BMW 330i is a brilliant premium sedan that fits in more budgets than a lot of people may think.

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