Are KBB’s 5 Certified Pre-Owned BMW Picks Worth Driving Home?

Kelley Blue Book-suggested certified pre-owned BMWs article highlights:

  • Kelley Blue Book recently released a list of recommended certified pre-owned BMWs
  • Among passenger cars, the 2019 3 Series is a solid choice overall, but if you want a 2019 5 Series, shop for a six- or eight-cylinder model
  • As for KBB’s BMW SUV picks, the 2019 X3 received some poor reliability scores, while the 2019 X5 is an excellent suggestion, and the 2019 X7 is more spacious but significantly less efficient

Saving some cash with near-new luxury cars is a time-honored shopping strategy, but it’s risky. Sure, your used BMW is cheap now, but what happens when something complicated breaks? Fortunately, there’s a way to get some peace of mind: a certified pre-owned car. It’s more expensive, but theoretically, a certified pre-owned BMW should be trouble-free. And if it isn’t, well, it has a warranty. But does that mean you should consider getting one of the CPO BMWs Kelley Blue Book recently recommended?

A used 2019 3 Series is a great certified pre-owned BMW

Two certified pre-owned 2019 BMW 3 Series sedans by a garage
Kelley Blue Book recommends a certified pre-owned 2019 BMW 3 Series | BMW

Now, just because a manufacturer like BMW slaps a ‘certified pre-owned’ sticker on one of its cars doesn’t magically transform that car. An unreliable used BMW won’t necessarily become more reliable automatically, though it will have a warranty.

However, that’s not the case with KBBs first pick, the 2019 BMW 3 Series. Although the 2020 3 Series is somewhat problematic, the 2019 model isn’t. Consumer Reports gave it a perfect reliability score, which is even more impressive given that BMW redesigned it for 2019. First-year models are usually less reliable than their predecessors.

Going with a certified pre-owned 2019 BMW 3 Series doesn’t just save you money, though. Because it’s functionally identical to the current 3 Series, the 2019 model offers the same level of space, technology, and performance. And speaking of performance, the 2019 3 Series returned an appreciable amount of athleticism to the historic nameplate, KBB notes.

One downside of getting a used 2019 BMW 3 Series is the limited powertrain choices. BMW only offered it in 2.0-liter turbo-four 330i form. But it does pack up to 255 hp (wagons have 248 hp) and an optional Track Handling Package with upgraded brakes and an electronically-controlled differential. And while it wasn’t standard, the 2019 330i did offer Apple CarPlay.

In short, this is one KBB certified pre-owned BMW suggestion that’s worth considering.

If you want a certified pre-owned 2019 BMW 5 Series, the more cylinders the better

Kelley Blue Book recommends a certified pre-owned 2019 BMW 5 Series
A certified pre-owned 2019 BMW 5 Series is a Kelley Blue Book recommendation | Robert Hradil/Getty Images

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As noted earlier, one benefit of buying a certified pre-owned BMW is a factory-backed warranty. Admittedly, it’s only for one year, but it has unlimited mileage. In addition, like other manufacturers, BMW only lists these cars for sale after inspecting them and replacing broken components. And given the 5 Series’ often-high maintenance costs, that’s undoubtedly helpful.

However, don’t discount KBB’s suggestion for getting a used 2019 5 Series. Although it doesn’t have all the 2022 5 Series’ gadgets, BMW added a bunch of standard tech to the redesigned 2019 model. You get Apple CarPlay, front and rear parking sensors, navigation, and a wide selection of advanced driver-assistance safety features. True, BMW offered things like optional gesture control, which might sound gimmicky and expensive to fix to some. But CR gave it a 3/5 reliability score—not great, but not terrible.

Also, while it’s more luxurious than sporty, the 2019 5 Series is still reasonably athletic, KBB reports. And it doesn’t lack space or comfort. Plus, while some luxury sedans might use electronic dampers in their adaptive suspensions, the 2019 5 Series has a mechanical version.

If you are shopping for a certified pre-owned 2019 BMW 5 Series, though, KBB recommends skipping. The four-cylinder 530i and 530e (plug-in hybrid) might be efficient on paper, but you have to work the engine hard IRL. In contrast, the 335-hp turbocharged six-cylinder 540i is smooth and “muscular,” KBB says. BMW’s hallmark is the inline-six, after all. Also, it’s more efficient than the 456-hp M550i xDrive’s twin-turbo V8.

So, provided you’re prepared to pay for post-warranty maintenance, a certified pre-owned 2019 BMW 5 Series has a lot to offer.

You might need the extended warranty with the 2019 X3

Remember that earlier bit about certified pre-owned status not immediately making a car more reliable? That’s arguably true of the next used vehicle on KBB’s list, the 2019 BMW X3.

On the plus side, the BMW X3 has low maintenance costs for a luxury SUV. Also, it’s surprisingly fun to drive in AWD xDrive and RWD sDrive forms. It rides comfortably, too, and thanks to 8” of ground clearance, it can do some light off-roading. And for 2019, BMW made front and rear parking sensors, as well as forward collision warning, standard.

However, CR gave the 2019 X3 a 2/5 reliability score, indicating below-average reliability. In addition, MotorTrend’s long-term X3 developed strange suspension creaks and a leaky roof after just 10,000 miles. Plus, while KBB says the “minimalist” interior is spacious and premium-feeling, MT found parts of the cabin rather cheap.

Admittedly, MT’s long-term X3 was a 2018 model, fresh off a redesign. Also, the point of BMW’s certified pre-owned program is to catch such issues before you take delivery. And despite the reliability concerns, MT enjoyed its time with the X3. Plus, as KBB notes, the X3 is BMW’s best-selling vehicle.

Still, the 2019 X3 is one certified pre-owned BMW that might benefit from a lookover from a second, independent pair of trained eyes.

The certified pre-owned 2019 BMW X5 deserves its high KBB score

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Although getting a certified pre-owned 2019 X3 might be slightly risky, the next BMW SUV KBB recommends should be a safer bet. It’s the 2019 BMW X5, which has the highest rating from KBB of the five vehicles listed here. Also, Consumer Reports calls it “one of the best vehicles we’ve ever tested.”

Admittedly, CR also noted that the 2019 X5 has middle-of-the-road reliability, likely because BMW redesigned it that year. However, it’s a significant step up in that regard from the problem-prone previous-gen X5. Also, while the X3 didn’t get an above-average CR reliability score until 2021, the X5 got it in 2020.

In addition, the 2019 BMW X5 has a more luxurious interior than the previous-gen one. It also has more standard safety features, a better infotainment system, and even offered an optional off-road package. And you can get it with a third row, though KBB notes that such X5s are somewhat rare. Plus, it’s genuinely fun to drive, with a “supple” chassis and “agile…responsive handling,” MT says.

Unfortunately, a certified pre-owned 2019 X5 will also likely cost you more than the previously-described BMWs. Also, MT found some of its ADAS features could use a little more polish. And, like the X3, the X5’s reliability improved after the 2019 MY.

Still, KBB’s got the right idea on this one. If you want a comfortable luxury BMW SUV with like-new tech at a discount with a warranty, you could do far worse than a 2019 X5.

The 2019 X7 packs plenty of space and luxury but guzzles gas quick

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While a 2019 X5 has an optional third row, it’s not the roomiest one on the market. So, if you do need a three-row luxury SUV, KBB’s certified pre-owned BMW pick is the 2019 X7.

In addition to plenty of space, the 2019 X7 also provides plenty of luxury. As BMW’s range-topping SUV—and its first three-row one—it has a ton of standard features. Even the base model features adaptive air suspension, dual-pane glass, leather upholstery, and an extensive ADAS suite. And the options list includes things like crystalline-glass controls and an illuminated panoramic sunroof.

However, a used BMW X7 isn’t a perfect luxury SUV solution. For one, it’s basically a luxurious family bus, so it’s not the most agile vehicle, MT notes. Secondly, while the base 335-hp turbocharged inline-six isn’t as weak as some think, it’s more fuel-efficient than the twin-turbo V8. Yes, the V8 makes 456 hp, but it also gets 4-5 less mpg than the inline-six—and both drink premium fuel. Also, despite its family-friendly three rows, the X7’s power seats are frustratingly slow.

With that and today’s gas prices, a certified pre-owned 2019 BMW X7 might be too much SUV for some. But it’s a KBB suggestion worth keeping in mind if you genuinely need that much SUV.

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