A Good BMW Doesn’t Have to Cost You a Lot of Money

The coronavirus pandemic has changed a lot of things—especially how and where we spend our money. Among one of the industries most heavily hit by months of quarantine and economic upheaval is the auto sales industry. According to Car and Driver, new vehicle sales fell a little over 34 percent in the second quarter. Fleet vehicle sales were hit particularly hard.

Nonetheless, despite a terrible second quarter for new vehicle sales, buyers are flooding the pre-owned market, including the luxury segment. According to a report published by Edmunds, the average listing price for a pre-owned luxury compact car in July 2020 was $25,548. That’s an increase of approximately $708 from June. Amazingly, the 2017 BMW 3 Series and 2016 BMW X3 were listed among Edmunds‘ top pre-owned cars under $20,000.

The 2016 BMW X3 the best luxury SUV under $20,000

Imagine pulling into your driveway in a pre-owned luxury SUV. And we’re not talking about some luxury model that’s over a decade old; try a 2016 BMW X3 xDrive28i! People will wonder how on earth you could afford an SUV like that, even if it’s less than five years old. For less than $20K, this could become a reality. Not only that but a lot of 2016 BMW X3s have relatively low mileage.

One of the reasons why the 2016 X3 is so cheap is because it was recently redesigned in 2018. Owners looking to upgrade to the seventh generation BMW X3 are selling their sixth-generation models for cheap.

The BMW X3 shares a similar platform with the BMW 3 Series, which helped contribute to both vehicles making Edmunds’ list. Though not as sporty as the 3 Series, its strength lies in the added cabin and cargo space. On top of that, advanced driving aids were available throughout the X3’s lifespan. Those features only got better with each new model year. 

It’s also important to note that Apple CarPlay wasn’t available until the 2017 model year. Even then it came as an additional option. Nevertheless, if Apple CarPlay is that important, aftermarket installations are available.

The 2017 BMW 3 Series is the best luxury sports sedan under $20,000

The 2017 BMW 3 Series was the last model year of the sixth generation. It was produced in various body styles including station wagon and 5-door hatchback (Gran Turismo). If you’re looking to buy the convertible or coupe, those were only manufactured from 2013 through 2014. Another distinctive feature of the sixth generation BMW 3 Series is the addition of a standard four-cylinder supercharged engine.

Owners of the BMW 3 Series have always boasted its remarkable ride quality, agile driving dynamics, and easy-to-use infotainment system. Anyone hoping to find an inexpensive entry-level luxury sedan better than the BMW 3 Series would spend a long time searching. While purchasing any year within this generation is money well invested, the 2017 model introduces some new treats. First, all 3 Series trims came standard with the newly updated iDrive 5.0. Secondly, this was the year that Apple CarPlay was introduced as a stand-alone option.

The midtier 2017 BMW 3 Series was the most popular and featured a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Along with its slight power increase, its name was changed from 328i to 330i. 

If you’re not excited yet, it’s possible to find the coveted six-cylinder 335i for sale—and under $20,000. Not only that but there are some rare examples of the diesel and hybrid powertrains selling for under $20,000 as well. However, the four-cylinder, gas-powered models (320i, 328i, and 330i) remain the most common. Since the 320i offers a middling performance and fewer features, the folks at Edmunds recommend upgrading to the 330i model.

Our bonus round for budgets higher than $20K but lower than $30K


The 2020 BMW X3 Beats the Audi Q5 In Every Area That Counts

If your budget is between $20,000 and $30,000, the 2017 BMW X3 is the most reliable version you can buy. It touts an absolutely gorgeous interior, as well as a sporty and stylish exterior. Consumer Reports suggested the 2017 X3 is the best model year, giving it a score of four out of five for reliability.

Featuring three engine types and three distinct trim levels, the base model offers a 240-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Higher-end X3 models are equipped with the 300-horsepower, turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine. But expect to pay upwards of $43,000 for such trims. The inline six-cylinder provides a significantly sportier driving experience than the four-cylinder engine. With an average starting price of $24,400 for the base trim model, this is another great entry-level luxury SUV.