BMW E46 Crash Test Ratings

The BMW 3-Series E46 was a fairly safe car for its time, but compared to newer vehicles with standard-issue collision-avoidance technology, it’s much less safe.
Written by Cameron Thiessen
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
The BMW 3-Series model code E46 gets good crashworthiness ratings from the IIHS. The E46 was discontinued in the U.S. after the 2005 model year.
Cars that are made new today are built to be far safer than cars that were built in the mid-2000s, and the E46 BMW 3-Series is a perfect example of this. There’s no driver assistance package or automatic emergency braking to be found here, but an E46’s front end does a good job of protecting passengers in the event of a head-on collision.
If you’re looking for a small, fun, and affordable car, you can find used E46 models in good condition for as little as $4,000.
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Is the E46 a safe car? 

The E46 wouldn’t be considered safe today, but two decades ago it certainly met the standard.
The E46 was introduced to North American markets in 1999, and it was available until 2005. There were five styles available: sedan, coupe, convertible, wagon, and hatchback. The most powerful engine available for the E46 was the 355-horsepower 3.2-liter inline-6 available on the 2003 and 2004
BMW M3 CSL
. Especially in speed demon models like this one, the E46 was built to race—safety was less of a priority here than it would have been in minivans of the same era.

IIHS crash test ratings

The 2005 BMW 3-Series isn’t winning any 2022 Top Safety Pick awards by IIHS, but there is a detailed account of the 2000 BMW 328i sedan’s moderate overlap front crash test. It gets a perfect “Good” overall evaluation in this category, but gets a failing grade when it comes to head restraint and seat safety.

Other crash test ratings

The
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
doesn’t have any crash test information posted for the BMW E46.
However, it does have any entry from the Australian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP), which gives it an overall safety score of 34.65 out of 37, losing most of its points to the pedestrian protection assessment.
J.D. Power also has some recorded safety ratings for the 2005 BMW 3-Series. According to this source, it had the following NHTSA ratings:
  • Frontal crash ratings—Driver: four stars
  • Frontal crash ratings—Passenger: five stars
  • Side crash ratings—Driver: three stars
  • Side crash ratings—Passenger: five stars
  • NHTSA Rollover Resistance Rating: four stars
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2005 E46 safety features

So just what kind of safety features were equipped with a BMW E46?
First off, there are standard airbags—six in total, one for the driver, one on each front side, one on each rear side, and one for the front passenger.
In addition to airbags, the E46 was equipped with stability control and traction control. However, beyond this, the BMW E46 models were not equipped to avoid collisions automatically like many of today’s new cars.

Is the E46 safer than other early-2000s cars?

In the year of 2005, the safest vehicles on the road weren’t SUVs—they were sedans! While the BMW 3-Series E46 received acceptable safety ratings, there were a few cars from this era that set the standard for safety.
According to Forbes, some of the
safest cars of 2005
were the
Ford Crown Victoria
,
Mercury Grand Marquis
,
Lincoln Town Car
, and
Volvo S80
—four out of five of which were produced under the Ford umbrella.

How crash test ratings can affect car insurance

Crash test ratings
are important to be aware of if you want to keep yourself and your passengers as safe as possible in your car. But you may not realize that they have a significant impact on insurance rates!
Insurance companies are well aware of the available information for different vehicles’ crash test ratings, and this data absolutely factors into the way that they determine your annual premium cost. Vehicles with high safety ratings and robust safety technology will cost less to insure compared to similar vehicles with less safety equipment.
Just remember that your vehicle’s overall value will also play into this number quite significantly. This makes driving used cars worth it for many people—especially people who are skilled enough drivers to keep clean records and stay out of accidents without the use of automated driving aids.

How to save on E46 insurance costs

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BMW insurance costs
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