The compact entry-level 3 Series reigns as BMW’s #1 volume-leading bestseller and is the most popular model in the marque’s lineup. It was introduced in 1975 as the successor to the New Class 02 Series and has remained in regular production ever since. With a base price that competes with many other contemporary midsize family sedans such as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Ford Fusion, the 3 Series is arguably the most mainstream of all of BMW’s present-day crop. It’s far more than just a basic commuter car, though. The 3 Series, like its larger sibling, the elite 7 Series high-end luxury saloon, epitomizes the BMW trademark amalgamation of style, luxury, and performance but unlike that premier flagship vehicle, the 3 Series is attainable and has attracted a broad array of new customers ranging from suburban families to urban millennials. What was once previously exclusive to only the more affluent of citizens is now one of the most commonly-seen vehicles on American roads today.
However, the widespread popularity of the BMW 3 Series also saddles it with one of the worst depreciation percentages on the market today: a painful 46.9%. That might not mean anything to someone who leases from a dealership every 3 years, but it really sucks for those who bought brand new from the showroom. But as the old saying goes: “One’s loss is another’s gain.” High depreciation for the 1st owner can be a bargain buy for the 2nd or 3rd in line.