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Car Review: Reasons to Love the Entry Level BMW 3 Series

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The entry-level luxury 2014 BMW 3 Series not only adds a four-cylinder to the options available, but also returns the wagon to the 3 series this year.

Competition includes the Audi A4, BMW S60, Infiniti Q50 and the Lexus IS 250.

Trims for the 2014 BMW 3 Series come in both sedan and wagon styles and there is also a hatchback, a 3 Series Gran Turismo.

On the sedans option, you get a 320i, 328i, 328d, 335i and ActiveHybrid 3 trim. The series also adds all-wheel-drive, which BMW calls "xDrive."

On the basic 3 Series BMW's, you get 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights and wipers, fog lights, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, adjustable front seats, premium vinyl upholstery, wood trim, leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a variety of techie gadgets like the Bluetooth, iDrive electronics interface and high-end sound with all the extras.

The 328i sedan provides a bigger engine, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and eight-way power-adjustable front seats.

For the 335i sedan and ActiveHybrid 3, notice the difference in the power trains and the wheels are 18 versus 17 along with adaptive xenon headlights and a sunroof.

For even more options, you can select a choice of equipment lines; Luxury, Sport or the M Sport. Each has a variety of wheel designs, colors, trims, steering wheel and suspension. You can also add additional packages, such as the Technology package. This package will add a navigation system, higher-resolution display, and Remote Services that are used with smartphones for a variety of features.

The Premium package will also give you leather seats, keyless ignition, power seats allowing for lumbar support, and on the wagon version, a power liftgate. Another package, the Cold Weather package, comes equipped with heated front and rear seats and a heated steering wheel. The Lighting package has adaptive bi-xenon headlights and cruise control along with an automated parallel parking system.

Under the hood, this year's 3 Series sedans can be either rear-wheel drive or the xDrive all-wheel-drive system, note the AWD comes standard on the wagon. You can get a six-speed manual on all the sedans and eight-speed automatic on the wagon, which is also an option on the sedan. On the Sport or M Sport package you can also expect steering wheel paddle shifters. Each one of the transmission choices also come with automatic stop-start function that will turn off the engine when the car is stopped.

Also on the 320i, you can opt for a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with 180 horsepower and 200 pound feet of torque. The 328i has an engine that puts out 240 horsepower and 255 pound feet of torque. For the 328d there is the 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine with the same horsepower as the 328i, but 280 pound feet of torque and this one is only offered in an automatic.

The turbo engine on the 335i sedan has a 3.0-liter six-cylinder, 300 horsepower and 300 pound feet of torque and for the ActiveHybrid 3 this is the 335i engine with automatic eight-speed and a rear-drive electric motor and lithium-ion battery.

For safety, the 2014 BMW 3 Series has antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side, side curtain and front knee airbags, stability control along with a mechanism that wipes the brake rotors dry at the same time that the windshield wiper and there is also the BMW Assist emergency system with automatic crash, stolen vehicle recovery and roadside assistance.

The 2014 BMW 3 Series offers an excellent entry-level luxury option and with the sporty handling and high-end cabin you can't go wrong. The gauges are easy to read and still reflect the BMW of earlier years. The display screen is 6.5 inches and the iDrive system has been upgrades a bit with the touchpad and you can use your own writing from your finger for commands.2014-02-01-CIMG7989.JPG

As for space, the rear seats are as large as will be found in this class and the trunk space is a cool 13-cubic-feet on the sedan and on the wagon, expect 53 cubic feet with the seats folded down.

Expect a smooth ride with easy handling and plenty of power to get on the highway or in and out of tight corners in the city or on a road trip, which this BMW Series 3 will be an excellent choice to consider.2014-02-01-CIMG7976.JPG

Should You Need to Know: The 2014 BMW Series 3 is all about good gas mileage, clean handling and smooth and easy control.

Miles Per Gallon: For the 2014 BMW 320i sedan with a 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder engine will offer about 24 miles per gallon in the city and 36 miles per gallon on the highway.

Cost: The 2014 BMW 320i sedan begins at about $33,635.