2022 BMW 330e xDrive Long-Term Update: Plugging in … to ambiguity


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After testing our long-term 2022 BMW 330e xDrive for several weeks, I have many thoughts -- some of them contradictory. I’ve found my level of liking the car depended on how I viewed its mission.

As a sports sedan … it’s very good. Tipping the scales at 4,138 pounds, it’s a little heavy for the notion of a traditional 3 series. Yet, considering modern creature comforts, options and of course, the hybrid gear, it’s entirely reasonable. The 330e xDrive and its fellow 3 Series variants stack up well against other sport sedans. It’s more comfortable than a Cadillac CT4 or Alfa Romeo Giulia, on par with the balance of the Mercedes C-Class and more enjoyable than the Genesis G70. The traditional calling cards of the 3 Series: steering, brakes and suspension turning are all on offer here.

As a plug-in hybrid … it’s disconcerting. I filled up a week after Road Test Editor Zac Palmer tossed me the keys to the tune of nearly $40. I will be making another trip to the gas station shortly, and that’s frustrating. I do charge it fairly regularly using the Level 1 charger that comes with the car, and I’ve availed myself of the relatively common public infrastructure in my area. I like charging the car, but with temperatures in the 30s or below, the 20-mile electric range dissipates quickly.

You could argue my experience would be more efficient with a Level 2 home charger. Fair. I agree and at some point envision getting one for my home. On the other hand, would you spend all that money to install an L2 charger for a plug-in hybrid with just 20 miles of range? Not unless you have another EV with more extensive capability. It’s also simple math. The total range of the 330e XDrive is 290 miles thanks to a fuel tank that holds just 10.6 gallons. While that sounds like a respectable amount, in real-world driving conditions, it goes quick.

This isn’t just a commentary on the 330e. Rather it’s a lens through which to view the often contradictory and ambiguous nature of plug-in hybrids in general. Perhaps because my expectations were high -- I was genuinely excited at the notion of a 3 Series with a plug -- that its challenges have resonated with me more deeply.

As a practical proposition … it’s solid. Our tester started at $45,945 and with options cost $51,840. It’s a good deal. You get a sporty BMW -- the 3 Series no less -- with room for car seats, groceries and a large-breed dog such as a golden retriever. The only dent in the value prop remains the fuel range.

As a luxury car and a BMW ... it’s excellent. BMW wisely has kept a traditional grille on the 3 Series and its lightly creased styling holds up well against the more aggressive designs its competitors have turned to: some of them are well executed like the G70, some are rather overwrought, like the Audi A4. With a black and brown interior with orange ambient light piping and the M steering wheel, it looks and feels the part of a Bimmer, conjuring the same gravitas I’ve come to expect from any 3 Series.

As we enter the heart of winter in the Midwest, I expect I’ll learn more about this all-wheel-drive sled's prowess in the snow. It’s shod in winter rubber, too, so I’m looking forward to making the most of its time when the weather is harsh.

I also expect I’ll find a better charging / fueling routine, which should codify my feelings toward this sedan. The 3 Series remains a muse for enthusiasts, yet the 330e xDrive is an exercise in math.