The Complete BMW 328i Buyers Guide
The BMW 328i is known to be one of North America’s favorite luxury sports sedans over the last quarter of a century. Replacing the 325i, from the beginning the 328i brought more refinement and more horsepower, all in the same high-performance, high-end package synonymous with German car manufacturer BMW. Driving behind the steering wheel of the BMW 328i is an experience in itself, which is why Americans keep eyeing this model when car shopping.
If you’re considering purchasing a new or used BMW, our experts have curated the complete buyer’s guide to ensure you feel prepared every step of the process.
BMW 328i: An Overview
Why Is the BMW 328i So Popular in the USA?
Since the 328i hit the US market in 1996, it’s become one of the most popular high-end sports sedan options and ubiquitous in well-heeled neighborhoods, alongside Mercedes and other luxury cars. With German engineering ensuring high-quality performance and reliability, it’s no wonder it’s been so popular. Most describe the driving experience to be one-of-a-kind with its beautiful interior and high-tech features.
What Is the Best BMW 328i Model Year?
The fourth-generation E46 and ninth-generation E90 model years are all well regarded and worthy contenders, but most have preferred to go with any model between 2006 and 2011, as well as the later model years that come with more technology.
History of the BMW 328i: A Timeline
Harking back to the 1970s BMW 2002 and part of the 3-Series, the 328i continues the sports sedan tradition, stamping it as ever with the BMW hallmark of quality performance.
We’ve seen 17 iterations of the BMW 328i (between the 328i and 328id versions) since its first introduction in 1996, including sedan, wagon, convertible and coupe versions. After a 7-year hiatus between 2000 and 2007, the 328i had a second run taking it up to the 2016 model year, with 328id models running between 2014 and 2018.
Here’s how the ever-popular BMW 328i has evolved:
- 1996: Released to replace the 325i, upgrading the engine from 2.5 liters to 2.8 liters and adding more torque, with the sedan’s sticker price just under $32,900, the rear-wheel-drive 328i becomes the sports sedan of choice for those admiring the German manufacturer’s reputation for luxury.
- 1997: The 5-speed manual transmission convertible 1997 BMW 328i features a new grille and comes with traction control and heated side mirrors.
- 1998: The ’98 328i features traction control, anti-lock brakes, and more safety features such as dual front and side airbags, roll bars, and crumple zones at the front and back.
- 1999: A significantly redesigned sedan is released, retaining the 2.8L, 6-cylinder engine, but lighter than the 1998 model and more powerful at 193hp and 6.5-second 0-60mph.
- 2000: The new coupe follows the next year with the same engine, priced from £34,560, and with optional automatic transmission.
- 2007: Redesigned with a 3.0-liter inline-six engine, 230hp, and 200lb-ft of torque, and released in convertible, coupe, sedan, and wagon body styles, the 328i comes with either manual or automatic transmission. The convertible 2007 BMW 328i now features a retractable hardtop. All body styles with the exception of the convertible are available in all-wheel drive.
- 2008: Minimal changes are made for the 2008 models.
- 2009: Another model year featuring very subtle changes, with styling updates for the sedan and wagon, and improvements to the electronic controls.
- 2010: With a 20-21 combined mpg rating, the 328i comes in sedan, wagon, coupe, and convertible body styles, all rear-wheel drive. The sedan, wagon, and coupe are also available with the all-wheel-drive 328i xDrive option. Standard features include HD radio, automatic climate control, heated exterior mirrors, and 16-inch wheels.
- 2011: Features of the 2011 328i include rain-sensing windshield wipers, automatic headlights and fog lamps, and 17-inch wheels and adaptive xenon headlights on the 2-door models.
- 2012: Now with standard 17-inch alloy wheels on all body styles, the 2021 328i sedan gets a redesign, notably switching the previous engine out for a turbocharged four-cylinder one with more power (240hp) and torque (255lb-ft) plus much-improved fuel economy (28mpg combined).
- 2013: With no new 2013 wagon, and the coupe and convertible still awaiting a redesign, the changes this year are subtle: technology additions to the sedan in the form of an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rearview camera, and added driver comfort features, plus sport-tuned suspension added to the coupe.
- 2014: Sedan and wagon body styles released, with a gas engine and a new diesel engine. The wagon sees a return, updated along the lines of the 2012 sedan.
- 2015: Bluetooth connectivity becomes available in the 2015 model year, which is available as a wagon or sedan, either gas or diesel.
- 2016: The 2016 328i comes in sedan and wagon body styles, with rear-wheel drive standard in the sedan and all-wheel-drive only in the wagon. This model year also sees some refinements to the steering and suspension, as well as subtle styling updates and interior improvements. The 328i features a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, with 240 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque. The 328id has a turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinder engine, with 180 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque.
- 2017: The 328i is replaced by the 330i, but a 328id sedan and 328id wagon are released, with the wagon featuring a panoramic sunroof.
- 2018: The 328id sedan and wagon body styles reappear in 2018 for the last time.
Does BMW Offer Free Maintenance?
The BMW Ultimate Care (for 2017 and newer vehicles) and Maintenance Program (for 2015-2016 model year vehicles) provide excellent, albeit non-transferable, maintenance coverage at no cost—for 3 years or 36,000 miles and for 4 years or 50,000 miles, respectively.
After the coverage period runs out, though, you’ll want to look into a third-party extended warranty that can alleviate the financial burden of owning a vehicle.
Our latest plan, EnduranceAdvantage™ protects you for up to $3,500 in car maintenance, as well as reliable breakdown coverage. With BMW being one of the pricier makes to maintain, you can save thousands on expenses that would have otherwise been unavoidable. Get started today by requesting a free, no-obligation quote today for more information.
The True Cost to Own a BMW 328i
When you buy a BMW 328i, as with any other used vehicle, you should factor in a number of different costs on top of the price you pay. Having a reliable buying guide like this can help you make an educated decision when shopping for a BMW, but there are additional ways to figure out the true cost to own.
If you’re looking to minimize the costs of ownership over the course of having the vehicle, you’ll need to see where savings can be made:
How much does it cost to own a BMW 328i?
Cost of car ownership =
(Cost of buying the car) + (Applicable state registration costs) +
(Cost of fuel) + (Cost of insurance) + (Cost of regular maintenance) + (Cost of repairs)
It’s in the last two factors that you can save money, depending on how long you own the car. The longer you keep it, the more you could save if you invest in an extended car warranty. That way, your maintenance costs will be reduced, and you’ll also be protected against the worst costs of repairs.
Repairs to Look Out For
Below is the list of the most common repairs BMW 328i owners could come up against, according to our internal claims data.
Top BMW 328i Repairs*
- Water Pump: $1,412
- Starter Motor: $1,112
- Alternator: 1,728
- Gasket, Oil Pan: $2,670
- Seals & Gasket: $1,770
- Gasket, Valve Cover: $1,556
- Compressor: $2,313
- Engine Mount: $1,011
- Primary Fuel Pump: $1,351
- Transfer Case: $3,688
Things to Consider Before Buying a BMW 328i
Is the BMW 3 Series right for you? There’s a healthy compact SUV market so you’re really spoiled for choice when looking for quality cars of this size. Before you head to your local dealership, take a look at our need-to-know list below, and compare it with other models.
- Average fuel consumption: The 2016 BMW 328i automatic has a combined mpg rating of 27 and the manual plus the all-wheel-drive variations boast 26 mpg combined. The 328id, meanwhile, offers a rating of 36 mpg combined for the rear-wheel-drive sedan and 34 mpg combined for the all-wheel-drive sedan and wagon styles.
- Ideal for: Lovers of luxury and status vehicles. Convertible models ideal for a west coast roadtrip.
- Extended warranty protection options: BMW extended warranty coverage is available up to 7 years/100,000 miles, although it’s always best to do your research and see if you can make savings or get better coverage for your money via a third party.
- Best time to buy: As the BMW 328i is no longer a new model, you can buy any time. Simply decide on the best year and find a seller offering a good price before going to inspect it thoroughly.
Comprehensive Extended Warranty Protection for BMWs
As for any luxury vehicle, BMW owners should be prepared for higher maintenance and repair costs. When you’re buying a used BMW, for your own peace of mind and to make sure your pocketbook isn’t hit too heavily, you’ll want to consider purchasing an extended warranty.
With Endurance warranty protection you’re getting the most comprehensive extended coverage available, featuring benefits such as round-the-clock roadside assistance, substitute transport, and trip interruption costs with every plan.
Plus, many greater everyday driving benefits through the Endurance Elite membership, which comes free for one year whichever plan you select. Gain peace of mind by getting the proper protection today and request a free, no-obligation quote. Find more resources, articles, and advice in our Learning Center.
*Claims paid as of 9/29/2020
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Chris has been covering the automotive industry and topics ranging from road trips to driverless car technology for around 10 years. His own preference is for retro 4x4s that will stand up to a muddy field in the country.