2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan vs. 2019 Subaru WRX

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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The 3 Series Sedan’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The WRX doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The 3 Series Sedan offers an optional Surround View to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The WRX only offers a rear monitor.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the WRX have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

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The 3 Series Sedan comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The WRX’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The 3 Series Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the WRX’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 3 Series Sedan for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Subaru doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the WRX.

Reliability

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A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the 3 Series Sedan’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the WRX’s camshafts. If the WRX’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

The battery on the 3 Series Sedan is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 3 Series Sedan’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The WRX’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 20th in initial quality. With 11 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 25th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 7th in reliability, above the industry average. With 14 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 14th.

Engine

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The 3 Series Sedan has more powerful engines than the WRX:

Horsepower

Torque

330i 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

255 HP

295 lbs.-ft.

M340i 3.0 turbo 6-cyl.

382 HP

369 lbs.-ft.

WRX 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

268 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

WRX STI 2.5 turbo 4-cyl.

310 HP

290 lbs.-ft.

WRX STI S209 2.5 turbo 4-cyl.

341 HP

300 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Car and Driver the 330i is faster than the Subaru WRX 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. (automatics tested):

3 Series

WRX

Zero to 60 MPH

5.2 sec

5.5 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

13.9 sec

14.4 sec

Quarter Mile

13.9 sec

14.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100 MPH

99 MPH

Top Speed

156 MPH

150 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/12/05

On the EPA test cycle the 3 Series Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the WRX:

MPG

3 Series Sedan

RWD

Auto

330i 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

26 city/36 hwy

M340i 3.0 turbo 6-cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

AWD

Auto

330i 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

25 city/34 hwy

M340i 3.0 turbo 6-cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

WRX

AWD

Manual

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/27 hwy

STI 2.5 turbo 4-cyl.

17 city/22 hwy

Auto

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

18 city/24 hwy

Regenerative brakes improve the 3 Series Sedan’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The WRX doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the 3 Series Sedan’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The WRX doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the BMW 3 Series Sedan higher (3 to 7 out of 10) than the Subaru WRX (1). This means the 3 Series Sedan produces up to 47 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the WRX every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

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The BMW 3 Series Sedan comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the WRX.

The 3 Series Sedan’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The WRX doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the 3 Series Sedan’s brake rotors are larger than those on the WRX:

330i

M340i

WRX

WRX STI

Front Rotors

13 inches

13.7 inches

12.4 inches

13.4 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

13.6 inches

11.3 inches

12.8 inches

The 3 Series Sedan’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs standard on the WRX are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

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The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 255/30R20 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 30 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the WRX STI’s 35 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 330i has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the WRX. The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels on the WRX STI.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 3 Series Sedan can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The WRX doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

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The 3 Series Sedan offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The WRX’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the 3 Series Sedan’s wheelbase is 7.9 inches longer than on the WRX (112.2 inches vs. 104.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the 3 Series Sedan is 1.8 inches wider in the front and 2 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the WRX.

The 3 Series Sedan’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (51.5% to 48.5%) than the WRX’s (58.4% to 41.6%). This gives the 3 Series Sedan more stable handling and braking.

Chassis

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The front grille of the 3 Series Sedan uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The WRX doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

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The 3 Series Sedan has .4 inches more front shoulder room, .5 inches more rear headroom and .4 inches more rear shoulder room than the WRX.

Cargo Capacity

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The 3 Series Sedan has a larger trunk than the WRX (13 vs. 12 cubic feet).

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the 3 Series offers cargo security. The WRX’s non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat cargo security.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the 3 Series Sedan offers an optional power trunk, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button, or optionally by just kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The WRX doesn’t offer a power trunk.

Ergonomics

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When two different drivers share the 3 Series Sedan, the memory system makes it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations. The WRX doesn’t offer a memory system.

The 3 Series Sedan offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The WRX doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the 3 Series Sedan and the WRX have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the 3 Series Sedan is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The WRX prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The 3 Series Sedan’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The WRX’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

If the windows are left open on the 3 Series Sedan the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the WRX can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The 3 Series Sedan’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The WRX’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The 3 Series Sedan has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The WRX has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the STI/Limited.

When the 3 Series Sedan is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The WRX’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The 3 Series Sedan has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The WRX offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

On extremely cold winter days, the 3 Series Sedan’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The WRX doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The 3 Series Sedan has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the WRX STI.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the WRX offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the 3 Series Sedan has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The WRX doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

The 3 Series Sedan’s optional Parking Assistant Plus can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The WRX doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

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The BMW 3 Series comes in sedan, four door hatchback and station wagon bodystyles; the Subaru WRX isn’t available as a four door hatchback or station wagon.

The 3 Series Sedan is available in both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations. The WRX doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/12/05

The BMW 3 Series outsold the Subaru WRX by 55% during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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