2004 All-Star: Luxury Car Under $40,000

2004 All-Star: Luxury Car Under $40,000
0402 Bmw3ser 01 S

Photographed by George Saitas

If you are intensely aware of the difference between what is simply very good and what is genuinely excellent, if you love to drive yet are constrained to run a four- or five-seat vehicle, not the mid-engined two-seater of your dreams, then BMW 3-series cars are the perfect answer. Head and shoulders above the many Asian, American, and European models that are "just like a BMW" stands the real thing, representing the Platonic ideal of what an automobile should be (if Plato had had an automobile). With either of its superb in-line sixes--a 2.5-liter or a 3.0-liter--the 3-series chassis is a tool that any sensitive driver will appreciate. The size is right, neither too small nor excessively large. Comfort, agility, and fuel economy make a balanced package still unsurpassed.

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