Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2012 BMW 3 Series VS 2012 Lexus IS Near Scottsdale, AZ

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2012 BMW 3 Series

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VS

2012 Lexus IS

Safety Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan’s optional front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The IS Series doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The 3 Series Sedan has standard Active Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The IS Series doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The 3 Series Sedan offers an optional collision warning system, which detects an impending crash through forward mounted sensors and flashes a bright light and sounds a loud, distinctive tone to warn the driver to brake or maneuver immediately to avoid a collision. The IS Series doesn't offer a collision warning system.

The 3 Series Sedan’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane. The IS Series doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The 3 Series Sedan offers an optional Surround View to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The IS Series only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

The 3 Series Sedan’s optional blind spot warning system uses digital cameras monitored by computer to alert the driver to moving objects in the vehicle’s blind spots where the side view mirrors don’t reveal them. The IS Series doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver's blind spots.

Compared to metal, the 3 Series Sedan’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Lexus IS Series has a metal gas tank.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the IS Series have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding and available all wheel drive.

Warranty Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 6 years longer than the IS Series’ (12 vs. 6 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 3 Series Sedan for 4 years and 50,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, tire rotation, lubrication and any other scheduled maintenance. Lexus doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the IS Series.

There are over 77 percent more BMW dealers than there are Lexus dealers, which makes it much easier to get service under the 3 Series Sedan’s warranty.

Engine Comparison

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The 328i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 36 more horsepower (240 vs. 204) and 75 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 185) than the IS250’s standard 2.5 DOHC V6. The 335i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 23 lbs.-ft. more torque (300 vs. 277) than the IS350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6.

As tested in Road & Track the 328i is faster than the Lexus IS Series (automatics tested):

3 Series Sedan

IS250

IS350

Zero to 30 MPH

1.8 sec

2.4 sec

2.4 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.4 sec

7.4 sec

6 sec

Zero to 80 MPH

9 sec

12.2 sec

9.6 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14.1 sec

19.6 sec

14.9 sec

Quarter Mile

13.9 sec

15.5 sec

14.5 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

99.5 MPH

89.2 MPH

98.6 MPH

For more instantaneous acceleration and better engine flexibility in any gear, the 3 Series Sedan’s engines produce their peak torque and horsepower at lower RPM’s than the IS Series:

Horsepower

Torque

328i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

5000 RPM

1250 RPM

335i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

5800 RPM

1300 RPM

IS250 2.5 DOHC V6

6400 RPM

4800 RPM

IS350 3.5 DOHC V6

6400 RPM

4800 RPM

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

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On the EPA test cycle the 3 Series Sedan RWD gets better fuel mileage than the IS Series RWD:

3 Series Sedan

IS Series

Turbo 4 cyl./Manual

23 city/34 hwy

19 city/28 hwy

2.5 V6

Turbo 6 cyl./Manual

20 city/30 hwy

n/a

Turbo 4 cyl./Auto

24 city/36 hwy

21 city/30 hwy

2.5 V6

Turbo 6 cyl./Auto

23 city/33 hwy

19 city/27 hwy

3.5 V6

Regenerative brakes improve the 3 Series Sedan’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The IS Series doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the 3 Series Sedan’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The IS Series doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

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For better stopping power the 3 Series Sedan’s brake rotors are larger than those on the IS Series:

328i

335i

IS250

IS350

Front Rotors

12.3 inches

13.4 inches

11.6 inches

13.1 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

13 inches

11.4 inches

12.2 inches

The 3 Series Sedan’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs standard on the IS250 are solid, not vented.

The 3 Series Sedan stops much shorter than the IS Series:

3 Series Sedan

IS Series

80 to 0 MPH

219 feet

224 feet

Road & Track

70 to 0 MPH

164 feet

170 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

107 feet

123 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 255/35R19 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the IS Series’ optional 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 3 Series Sedan offers optional 19 inch wheels. The IS Series’ largest wheels are only 18 inches.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 3 Series Sedan can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. Run-flat tires aren’t available on some tire packages on the IS Series.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The IS Series’ suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the 3 Series Sedan’s wheelbase is 3.2 inches longer than on the IS Series (110.6 inches vs. 107.4 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the 3 Series Sedan is 1.7 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the IS Series.

The 328i handles at .91 G’s, while the IS350 pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Road & Track skidpad test.

The 328i goes through Road & Track’s slalom 7.7 MPH faster than the IS350 (69 vs. 61.3 MPH).

Chassis Comparison

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As tested by Road & Track while under full throttle, the interior of the 328i is quieter than the IS350 (75 vs. 76 dB).

Passenger Space Comparison

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Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the 3 Series Sedan is rated a Compact car by the EPA, while the IS Series is rated a Subcompact.

The 3 Series Sedan has 10.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the IS Series (96 vs. 85.7).

The 3 Series Sedan has 3.1 inches more front headroom, .7 inches more front shoulder room, 1 inch more rear headroom, 4.5 inches more rear legroom and 2.4 inches more rear shoulder room than the IS Series.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

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A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the 3 Series Sedan easier. The 3 Series Sedan’s trunk lift-over height is 26 inches, while the IS Series’ liftover is 28.4 inches.

The 3 Series Sedan’s optional rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The IS Series doesn’t offer folding rear seats, only a ski pass-through.

Ergonomics Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan offers an optional heads-up display which projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts onto the windshield, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The IS Series doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the 3 Series Sedan and the IS Series have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the 3 Series Sedan is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The IS Series prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The 3 Series Sedan’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The IS Series’ standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the 3 Series Sedan to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The IS Series doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the 3 Series Sedan detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The IS Series doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the 3 Series Sedan offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The IS Series doesn’t offer cornering lights. The 3 Series Sedan also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the IS Series offer optional heated front seats. The 3 Series Sedan also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the IS Series.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the 3 Series Sedan offers an optional Active Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The IS Series doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Optional BMW Apps for the 3 Series Sedan allows the driver and passengers access to select programs on their smartphones, including reading text messages aloud, playing internet radio stations, tagging songs to buy them later, following twitter accounts and other online activities without taking their eyes off the road or their hands from the wheel. The IS Series doesn’t offer factory integrated smartphone program access.

The 3 Series Sedan’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The IS Series doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages Comparison

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Insurance will cost less for the 3 Series Sedan owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the 3 Series Sedan will cost $440 to $2575 less than the IS Series over a five-year period.

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