BMW i3 Test Drive Review And Used Buying Guide

Should you go with the standard i3 or the REx? Which model year?

A certified-pre-owned 2018 BMW i3 is a half-price bargain that provides excellent driving dynamics, quick acceleration, and, most importantly, around a three-year bumper-to-bumper warranty.

After the redesign in 2018, the BMW i3 REx arrived with a starting price of $49,300, but today, the used prices are lower, considerably lower. This review model, provided by Hendrick BMW Charlotte, is a 2018 i3 REx with the “Giga World” interior and the optional sunroof. Since it is the range-extender model, expect to pay a little bit more, specifically in the region of the low to mid $20s. Without the range-extender, prices can go as low as $20,000. Since the price difference is roughly several thousand dollars, it is essential to understand the differences.

Editor’s Note: Andrew Lambrecht is a high school senior who runs an electric cars news website (thecurrentreview.com). He has always been very interested in electric cars, and since he will be applying to colleges soon, electrical and environmental engineering are on his mind. Congrats to Andrew for the nice website and hard work.

Gallery: BMW i3


44 Photos

















































Which one should I go for?

The answer is quite simple: will I ever need to drive my car on a long trip? If the answer is “yes,” then a REx will accommodate this need better; if not, then you may as well save some money and go for one without a range-extender.

The EPA rates the REx model at 97 miles on electricity alone and the BEV variant at 114 miles. The lower electric range on the REx model is procured from the added weight of the 2-cylinder gasoline generator. However, this generator can propel the vehicle an additional eighty miles after the battery wilts, cumulating to nearly 180 miles of total range. In real-world use, expect these estimates to be more conservative as the “guess-o-meter” in the REx review model shows 110 miles at around 80%.

Regardless, every pre-September 2018 i3 contains a 33kWh (94Ah) Li-ion liquid-cooled pack with DC fast charge capability. There are two powertrain options; a 170 or 181 horsepower motor mounted about the rear axle. The 181 horsepower motor comes with the “S” variant, which will most likely cost several thousand more in the used market. Additionally, the “S” variant features snazzier wheels, black rather than silver trim, and slightly lowered suspension. I have never experienced the driving dynamics of an i3S, but I can assure you that a base i3 has a very sporty ride.

Adding a further complication to the buying process, four interior trim levels and an optional technology package are available. The four trims essentially contain a different array of materials and color combinations. The interior trim names are derived from data storage sizes, like “Deka or Giga World.” The more premium materials are present in the higher levels, like the Tera World Package with Vernasca Leather. Besides the incredibly peculiar trim level names, the Technology Package option is straightforward.

Visually, the Tech Package is characterized by a larger infotainment screen without a gray plastic border. Included in this package is ACC Stop & Go, BMW Active Driving Assistant, automatic high beams, a real-time navigation system, and a garage door opener system. Like the “S” trim, models with this package will generally sell for a few thousand more than ones without it.