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2012 BMW 335i (pictures)

BMW puts a lot of tech at the disposal of its small sedan, but a few bad choices in the options make it a boring car to drive.

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Wayne_Cunningham.jpg

Wayne Cunningham

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1 of 26 Josh Miller/CNET
BMW updated its 3 Series for the 2012 model year, refining the look and significantly changing the trims and options available.
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In a new look for BMW's passenger cars, the grille looks lower to the ground, with more of a drop-off from hood to leading edge.
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The 335i's engine is little changed from the past model year, using direct injection, a twin-scroll turbo, and variable valve timing to generate 306 horsepower. Elements such as regenerative braking help the 335i get fuel economy in the high 20s.
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The 335i is a good-looking car, but not particularly stunning from the side.
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Both Modern and Luxury line 335is get a suspension tuned more for comfort than for sport, but an adaptive suspension is available.
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The trunk runs surprisingly deep, and the rear seats fold down, allowing for even more cargo room.
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This particular car's cabin came in Leather Dakota Oyster, an option that encases passengers in the color of old computers.
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The rear seats offer a decent amount of legroom.
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Most of the tech features in the cabin come as options, such as navigation and BMW's new Apps connectivity.
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This trim piece has a very plasticky feel, and is called Fineline Pure.
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The Modern line for the 335i includes this beige leather key case, another strike against this particular trim choice.
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BMW has gone to an electric power-steering system in the 2012 335i. In base form, it feels lifeless, but it can be optioned up to a variable steering system.
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The standard BMW shifter controls an eight-speed automatic transmission. A six-speed manual is also available, each as no-cost options. A sport version of this eight-speed automatic can also be optioned.
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Buttons labeled Sport and Comfort, appearing in most new BMW models, change the engine programming.
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Eco Pro is one of the drive modes actuated by the Comfort button. It maximizes fuel economy.
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The surround-view camera system makes it easy to park and maneuver in tight spaces. An automatic parallel-parking system is also available as an option.
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The rearview camera includes active trajectory lines that move as the wheel is turned.
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The iDrive controller sits perched on this horrible Fineline Pure trim.
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The ConnectedDrive app lets the driver listen to news items from a feed.
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The navigation system stores its maps on a hard drive. These maps can be viewed in 3D or 2D.
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The navigation system uses traffic data to dynamically route around problems.
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The navigation system also integrates Google search, which gets its Internet connection through BMW's telematics service.
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The main LCD can show a split screen, here with the phone system on one side and route guidance in the auxiliary screen.
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The 335i offers a very satisfactory range of audio sources, including the car's own hard drive. The External Devices menu leads to more sources.
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The stereo system shows album artwork when available.
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The Harman-Kardon audio system is an upgrade in the 3 Series, and includes 13 speakers along with a 420-watt amp.

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