BMW's iconic 3 series is revised, but faces new challenges

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ByDave Kunz via KABC logo
Monday, August 19, 2019
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BMW has revamped its iconic 3 series, but the sedan faces stiff competition as consumers continuing flocking to SUVs.

For the seventh time in 42 years, BMW has introduced a new 3 Series.

This is a car that's almost become a brand in and of itself, a staple of the car world.

New this time around - a slight increase in size, but a reduction in weight and a boost in standard horsepower. And a standard 8-speed automatic transmission, as well.

No more manuals.

New technology too; everything from an improved iDrive infotainment system, to a slick option that helps you back the car up in tight spaces.

There's just one little issue the 3 series faces here in 2019. It's a sedan, and not an SUV.

Buyers are flocking to SUVs like never before, and BMW itself offers seven different SUVs or sports activity vehicles, as they call them.

This once-dominant sedan is facing an uphill battle of sorts.

It's a similar story all across the automotive landscape. Check out Volkswagen's slick new Arteon model, which while looking like a sedan, is actually a lift back. It offers amazing versatility to go along with the styling and features. But here again, VW's SUV models will likely trounce it in the showroom.

And Mercedes-Benz is finally bringing the slick A-class to the U.S. after years of it rolling across the roads of Europe. Here too, it lands in a market where Mercedes-Benz is selling SUVs like crazy.

There's one place a sedan has a big advantage over an SUV: a lockable trunk.

For people who are concerned about valuables, an area surrounded by metal is generally more secure than one surrounded by glass.

There are many car buyers who prefer that design, along with the inherent outward visibility of a sedan. And while sales of four-door cars are down these days, a lot of buyers are still out there looking for them.

Now, the 3 Series just has to fight BMW customers' urge to wander over to the many SUVs in the showroom, instead of sticking with the sedan that helped put BMW on the map.