Our time with the 2022 BMW 330e xDrive is officially up, and we can safely say we had a pleasant experience with BMW’s plug-in hybrid 3 Series. In the end, our year with the car saw us tack on approximately 13,500 miles, of which about 2,500 were done on electric power. One minor hiccup involving a minor fender-bender requiring a bumper replacement took the car out of commission for quite a while as we awaited parts, but long waits for service is something we’ve gotten used to as of late. Regardless, that didn’t temper our enjoyment of the 330e, and there’s still a strong argument to be made for picking it over the regular 330i.
As a reminder, our 330e xDrive (all-wheel-drive) model rang in at $51,840 after options. Its Portimao Blue Metallic paint is a stunning color choice, and we can’t recommend choosing it with the Cognac interior enough. With a combined 288 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque from the 2.0-liter turbo and electric motor integrated into the eight-speed automatic transmission, it never felt short of power – well, except for when you’re totally out of battery power, but that takes sustained high-performance driving to do. Nevertheless, the turbo four-cylinder is a little meek if it’s tasked with moving the 4,138-pound sedan alone.
Our editors are full of final impressions after spending months with this 3 Series PHEV, so read on below to see how it fared.
Road Test Editor Zac Palmer: I lived the PHEV life with the 330e while it was in my possession. After every drive I’d plug the car in, and while I only had a normal 120V outlet, that was plenty for me to fully recharge overnight. This allowed me to go grocery shopping and run a couple errands throughout the day without dipping into the gas engine. For folks who live in areas where your typical destinations are 3-6 miles away (as I do), the 330e’s 20 miles of electric range (and more in real-life use) really was enough. That said, a greater buffer sure would’ve been nice to allow for slightly longer excursions on electric power. You just need to be realistic about your use case to see if the range is enough, because running the 330e on electric power is a necessity to make its financial case work.
Beyond driving efficiently, I also spent a good amount of time hustling the 330e around some of our favorite Michigan driving roads to see if it held up to the 3 Series’ high standards. From a capability and fun standpoint, that’s a resounding hell yeah. The chassis is firm, super-responsive and the steering is quick with superb accuracy. You pay for that capability with a stiff ride for this segment, but that’s mostly because our test car wasn’t equipped with BMW’s adaptive dampers. Testing out the passive damper setup on the 330e was an enlightening time, but I came away thinking it was 100% worth it to spec the Dynamic Handling Package that includes the Adaptive M Suspension system. That said, no matter which way you decide, the 330e is going to make you smile behind the wheel.
News Editor Joel Stocksdale: I’ve got very mixed feelings about our 330e. On the efficiency front, I’m both frustrated and impressed. I’m one of those people where roughly 20 miles of electric power wouldn’t be all that useful. Certainly, some particularly short trips would be fine, but it’s not unusual to drive about 15 to 20 miles one way around the Detroit metro area, so that means gas power on the way back. It would just be nice to have between 30 to 50 miles so that only the longer drives would use gas. Though on the flip side, on highway drives, it’s pretty darn efficient running mainly on the gas engine. It wasn’t hard to get up around 40 mpg. So driving electrically around town and then with an efficient gas engine on the highway, it usually performed very economically.
The powertrain outside of efficiency also left me mixed. The transitions between electric and gas were superbly smooth, and the engine was pleasingly quiet. And the combined output from the engine and motor was definitely spunky and sporty. But I often found myself wishing for more electric grunt, especially since I wanted to take full advantage of the electric mode. It’s perfectly adequate for getting around, but it’s very obviously a small fraction of the total output. It’s an issue I’ve run into with a number of PHEVs where it feels like you’re penalized for trying to take advantage of one of the prime selling points.
With that being said, the rest of the car I grew to like. Yes, I griped about the steering and the fat wheel, but much of the rest of the dynamics were great, as Zac already said. The bright blue and saddle brown interior seriously popped and would even grab attention from bystanders. I’ve also complained about BMW interiors being a bit drab, but after living with this one, I grew to appreciate the excellent build quality, lovely materials, and especially the weighty, clicky switchgear. It became a great place to eat away miles in calm and comfort.
In the end, the 330e is good, but there’s definitely room for improvement. And with BMW’s work on electrification, I think future versions could be great, especially fully electric ones.
Associate Editor Byron Hurd: My time with the 330e overlapped with some of the only legit winter weather we had in southeastern Michigan this cold season, which was both fun and informative. Like Palmer, I lived the PHEV life to its fullest. As plug-ins go, this one’s decent. It’s sportier than the Volvo S60 T8 (now known as the Recharge) we had in the Autoblog fleet a couple years back, but not quite as luxurious or attractive on the inside, and consequently a bit more eager to be grabbed by the scruff. That said, the Volvo cleaned the BMW’s clock in off-the line shove. The BMW may be the better-rounded athlete, but the Volvo looked — and sometimes felt — better doing it.
But to BMW’s credit, I think the 330e is the more holistically satisfying package. Its powertrain may seem relatively tame — Joel called it “adequate” and I agree — and that’s perfectly OK. The 330e isn’t pretending to be an all-out performance machine, but rather a perfectly sensible 3 Series. It does that rather well in my opinion. My only major complaints were the too-small phone storage cradle and the somewhat lackluster EV-only range. Like Stocksdale, I found myself getting half or maybe two-thirds through my typical errand or airport commute before running out of juice.
Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore: I really enjoyed our long-term 330e. It exuded many of the traditional 3 Series charms, including the design and chassis setup, while offering a forward-looking tilt with the plug-in electrified powertrain.
For me, it was a mixed bag. The car itself was great. But with the small gas tank and only the trickle charger to juice up, I ended up spending more time at the gas station than I expected. The other downside is that it’s not quick-charge capable either, leaving me to think you should invest in a Level 2 home port if you’re serious about this. My colleagues that did enjoyed the car much more.
I enjoyed it as a sports sedan. It’s well-rounded, fun to drive and looks impressive. It’s a comfortable yet engaging daily, and I think the 3 Series in general is the right car for a lot of people in this segment. The interior is roomy and stylish and the infotainment is easy to pick up.
Overall, I liked our long-term 3 Series. A lot. I would make a hard call on my personal home charging network before actually purchasing a 330e, but otherwise, it’s a solid execution for a somewhat niche segment.