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The 2021 BMW 3 Series Is Adding a Feature That Should Have Already Been There

BMW is making some great changes to keep its vehicle lineup even more appealing to consumers. The BMW 3 Series model is one of the automaker’s most luxurious and athletic cars in its entire lineup. For 2021, the sedan will receive a much-needed infotainment feature that Android users will appreciate, according to MotorTrend.

Smartphone integration is now a common feature even on the base trim of many cars. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allow drivers to sync their smartphones seamlessly with the car’s infotainment system. It’s something many vehicle shoppers have come to expect, so why was BMW so slow to add Android Auto?

The technology inside the 2021 BMW 3 Series

Previously, smartphone integration was only available to BMW 3 Series drivers in the form of Apple CarPlay. Last winter, the automaker promised that Android Auto would be available eventually in a system update. The automaker has held true to its word, offering standard Android Auto for every new BMW 3 Series sedan.

The standard infotainment system also comes with Bluetooth, built-in navigation, a few USB ports, and HD radio. Higher trims offer fancier features like wireless charging and a Wi-Fi hotspot. The system is capable of gesture and voice recognition, but critics have found these features to be glitchy at times.

BMW and Android Auto

BMW and Google have had a rocky relationship. Despite saying that BMW would add Android Auto to its vehicles in 2015, it later retracted this statement. According to BMW, most of its customers used Apple products, so Android Auto wasn’t necessary for its vehicles.

While the latest upgrade is good news for Android users, some drivers are already having problems. Android Authority reports that the audio stutters and the phone disconnects completely sometimes. Additionally, since the Android Auto upgrade is wireless, some Android devices won’t be compatible. The upgrade is also not available for certain BMW cars.

Other new features for the BMW 3 Series

The BMW 3 Series sedan has a new digital gauge cluster, and it also received automatic high beams as standard safety equipment. Drivers will also appreciate standard keyless entry.

Those small extras are the only new interior features of the BMW 3 Series. It still only comes with minimal safety offerings: automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, and lane departure alerts. More desirable features like lane-keeping assist and blind-spot monitors are reserved for more expensive trims. 

Powertrain upgrade for the BMW M340i

In more exciting news, the upgraded version of the standard 3 Series sedan now has a 48-volt mild hybrid system. This allows the engine to turn off during coasting or sitting at a stoplight, thus conserving fuel. The M340i isn’t as efficient as the standard 330i, averaging 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the interstate.

The mild-hybrid system should improve this number in real-world driving, which is good news for drivers who want that turbocharged engine. It’s capable of 382 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Torque Report says that it’s faster than the standard engine and gives drivers better handling.

New plug-in model available

RELATED: Critics and Consumers Are Torn Over the 2020 BMW 3 Series

2021 marks the return of the 330e, the plug-in hybrid of the BMW 3 Series. It has a longer electric range and a larger battery, giving the engine a combined 288 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. It can drive up to 22 miles in all-electric mode.

MotorTrend worries that these new offerings aren’t enough to make the BMW 3 Series stand out. The stiff ride quality makes the 3 Series sedan a disappointment. While Android Auto is a good step forward, it might be better for BMW to focus on performance updates next.