Not all BMW enthusiasts can afford a brand new Bimmer. BMWs are premium cars that carry premium price tags, which are often too high for many enthusiasts. However, that absolutely does not mean those same enthusiasts can’t buy something genuinely premium and fun for a much lower price tag than new Bimmers. A nice number for a used BMW is around $25,000. At that price point, you can find several different, relatively recent, great-to-drive BMWs to fit many different needs.
We’re gonna take a look at four different BMWs that can be had for under $25,000 in different categories, so as to meet the different needs of many different enthusiasts. All four of these cars can also be found under $25k regularly and aren’t on this list because I found a couple ultra-high mileage examples from shady dealers. You’ll be able to find these cars with decent miles, from reputable dealers, in almost any state the US.
E90 BMW 335i
This one is a must-have on this list. The E90 BMW 3 Series sedan is one of the best overall sport sedans you can buy right now. Not only does it still drive like an old-school BMW but it’s also modern enough to not feel old and comfortable enough to be used everyday. The E90 is also still great looking and will fit in with the rest of the premium execs’ cars in your work parking lot.
Why the BMW 335i specifically? Because it comes with a 300 horsepower TwinPower turbocharged engine that makes it seriously quick. Sure, there are some high-pressure fuel pump issues but they’re worth dealing with to own such a brilliant car. Oh, and it can be found with a stick.
F10 BMW 550i
The F10-generation BMW 5 Series gets a bad rap and mostly for good reason. When compared with the rest of its 5 Series siblings, both before and after it, the F10 is a bit too soft, a bit too clumsy, and not enjoyable enough to drive. However, if bought for the right reason, and in the right spec, the F10 5er can be an excellent used BMW.
While a bit sloppy to drive in a sporty manner, the F10 5 Series is seriously comfy. It’s a big, comfortable, quiet luxury sedan that still looks good and sports a great interior. If you opt for the BMW 550i — which is what I’m suggesting you do — then you also get a big stonking twin-turbocharged V8 with 400 horsepower. Yes, that V8 can be a bit unreliable but that’s the payoff for having a burly V8-powered luxury sedan.
F48 BMW X1
Mock all you want but the second-gen BMW X1 is a great family car and, believe it or not purists, sometimes enthusiasts buy certain cars because they need to, not because they want to. Many BMW enthusiasts need family cars to take kids to school before the morning work commute and the BMW X1 is excellent at that. Not only is it a great family hauler but it returns good fuel economy, has a comfortable ride, a spacious interior, and is surprisingly good to drive.
I’ve pushed the second-gen X1 harder than most people on the planet have — my first ever press trip had us mob X1s on the best road I’ve ever seen in my life, and then off road it, in Mexico — and it’s honestly very nice to drive for a small crossover. Of course, it’s still just a front-drive-based crossover but I promise that it handles and feels far better than you might expect. As a family car for under $25,000, it’s a homerun.
E82 BMW 135i Coupe
If you’re looking for some fun, and only fun, for under $25,000, then the first ever BMW 135i Coupe is a great option. It packs the same excellent N55 engine as the aforementioned BMW 335i, just in a smaller, lighter package with a shorter wheelbase and sharper handling. There’s a reason why so many 1 Series Coupe owners don’t want to get rid of their cars for something newer from BMW — it’s an outstanding little sports car.
It can also easily be found under $25k, is available with a manual transmission, and has plenty of tuning options if you want more power or performance. As far simple BMW sports cars get, it’s hard to beat the 135i for this price.