Are BMWs Worth the Cost?


BMW i8

BMWs are phenomenal cars, I have owned a number of them and I have enjoyed them all. But BMWs are also extremely expensive, not just to buy, but also to maintain, and they depreciate exceptionally quickly. Given that they are so expensive, are BMWs worth the cost?

BMWs are worth the cost if owning one is within your budget, you research the particular BMW model, and you want a BMW for its attributes such as performance and luxury. If you don’t do your research, and you are not prepared to spend more on maintenance, then a BMW likely is not worth it.

But satisfaction is not the same for all models or years of BMW. A 3 Series might end up being a great option for you, but a 7 Series might cost thousands more in maintenance and require considerably more downtime in the mechanic’s shop. Luckily we have assembled some data for you concerning owner satisfaction with different BMWs, and I will also explain some things you should be aware of when considering a BMW.

Why might a BMW be worth the cost?

If you are interested in a new BMW and you are hesitant on pulling the trigger, the most likely reason is the sticker price. These vehicles are extremely expensive and no one really wants to shell out that much cash on a car (I certainly don’t). So why would you buy a BMW?

Well, you should be aware that the sticker price is not going to be the only cost. Sure, new BMWs come with a factory warranty so maintenance costs will be covered for a few years, but as a new BMW owner, you will bear the brunt of your vehicle’s depreciation. BMWs suffer from some of the fastest depreciation in the automotive industry, although it does vary somewhat between models.

So the monetary cost is the worst part about buying a BMW, but what are some of the benefits of owning a BMW?

BMWs are amazing performance vehicles

I first got into BMWs when I was 16. At the time I was given a beat-up old four-cylinder to get back and forth to school. I soon became interested in these vehicles and eventually purchased an M3. What impressed me the most about these vehicles is how accessible such a high-performance vehicle like a BMW E36 was for me. They were dirt cheap (still are) when I first started driving almost ten years ago, and I could fix them up and enjoy them for years.

What makes BMWs such high performing vehicles? The handling is by far the biggest thing in my mind when it comes to BMW. The 3 Series BMWs are especially well known for their exceptional handling, but most BMW models will handle well.

The BMWs I initially developed an interest in, the E36s and E46s, were not that fast. I mean the M3s were relatively quick vehicles, but they were never the fastest in the street. Fast-forward to 2020 and every BMW you find nowadays has at least a single turbocharger. BMW has been able to rapidly increase the horsepower in its vehicles while also reducing the average engine size in its 3 Series.

Comfort and luxury at its finest

bmw nice interior

One reason why BMW models score so high on consumer reviews despite the fact that their reliability ratings are terrible is that they have so many bells and whistles. Consumers have come to really enjoy and expect lots of bells and whistles in a luxury vehicle, and BMW certainly does not disappoint in that regard.

New BMW models always feature the latest car technology with the iDrive system, personal assistant, and entertainment system. The seats are exceptionally comfortable and BMW tends to put a lot of work into designing attractive interiors.

These are some of the reasons why a BMW may be worth the cost to you, but you should also consider variations in BMW models and years.

Research BMW models

If you find that a BMW is worth the cost of ownership then your next task is to be well researched on the model BMW you are interested in. BMW makes a variety of different models nowadays, it makes everything from 2-seater sports cars to SUVs to executive luxury vehicles. Knowing the differences in the models is an important component of your research.

BMW models vary considerably in maintenance costs, depreciation, and drivability. One of the ways to identify whether a particular model might be right for you is to analyze owner satisfaction.

Below is a table we have constructed of overall owner satisfaction with different BMW models between 2017-2019. This data was compiled from Consumer Reports.

Overall BMW Owner Satisfaction 
BMW Model 2017 2018 2019
2 Series 4/5 4/5 5/5
3 Series 3/5 3/5 3/5
4 Series 2/5 3/5 3/5
5 Series 3/5 4/5 4/5
7 Series 3/5 4/5 N/A
X5 5/5 3/5 5/5

Owner satisfaction is determined by Consumer Reports by asking owners about satisfaction with the driving experience, comfort, value, style, and whether they would purchase the particular vehicle again.

This data was compiled from surveys so in my opinion it must always be taken with a grain of salt, but overall it can be trusted as pretty accurate. The data clearly shows that most BMW owners are pretty happy with their purchases, and most of them would buy the vehicle again.

As you can see in the table, owners were most satisfied with the X5 and the 2 Series BMW. Interestingly the same owners who gave the X5 a 5/5 owner satisfaction rating also gave it a 1/5 reliability rating. In fact, pretty much across the board, the BMW models did poorly on reliability ratings, even though most owners were satisfied with the vehicles overall. You can check out a detailed article on BMW reliability here.

When is a BMW not worth it?

The biggest reason why a BMW might not be worth it for you is because of how expensive these vehicles are. Buying a new BMW certainly has never been worth it for me, which is why I have always stuck with buying used BMWs.

You can check out an article on the benefits of buying a used BMW vs a new BMW here. Suffice it to say sometimes a new BMW might not be worth the enormous initial cost and cost of depreciation, but a used BMW might change your calculus.

Another valid option is instead of buying a new BMW you could lease it. Leasing has become extremely popular, in fact, leasing has become a more popular way to acquire a BMW than buying one new. You can check out an article on the benefits of leasing a BMW vs a new BMW here.

Conclusion

I hope this article has helped you in determining whether or not buying a new BMW is worth the cost for you. If the heightened initial cost and cost of ownership does not bother you than a new BMW may be an excellent option. On the other hand, you could also consider buying a used BMW or leasing one instead.

Stephen Metellus

I am a BMW enthusiast and owner of abetterbmw.com! I have been repairing, flipping, and parting out BMWs for nearly ten years. I love these vehicles and I hope you will find my articles and YouTube channel helpful for whatever BMW project you have in store!

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