What’s the best used BMW for the money? A question that many people wonder about. Furthermore, what is the best used BMW for under $15000 USD?

One thing for certain, it’s a matter of taste. One person might be looking for all out comfort and style, while others may require a sportier ride. Whatever your preference maybe, this article will help you find the best pre-owned BMW for under $15000 in 2012 and 2013.

As a BMW enthusiast, my preference is cars equipped with a proper manual transmission. But for the sake of being fair to people that either have not learned how to drive vehicles with manual transmissions, or live in a traffic-congested metro area, automatic transmission choices will be discussed. Car makers normally charge a premium for automatic transmissions on new cars. Same goes for BMW, especially with the old SMG (single-clutch Sequential Manual Gearbox), and the newer DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission).

Used BMWs equipped with a manual transmission have a higher market value, especially in areas with larger enthusiast populations. They are harder to find because single digit percentage of people buy these cars new, so less are available for sale used. Another point, people tend to hold on to manual transmission cars, simply because they are more fun to drive, and are more reliable than the best automatic or auto-manual transmission out there.

Luxury 4-door sedan BMW for Under $15k:

The ultimate luxury sedan is within reach to most of us. The 2002-2003 BMW 745i E65 and the 745Li E66 with less than 90k miles can be purchased for $15000 or less. Famous for its controversial design brought on by the bangle-butt, this was the best selling 7-series BMW of its time. Naturally aspirated 4.4l V8 producing 325-hp matched to a 6-speed automatic transmission powering the rear wheels. A bench mark to this day that many car makers copied in one way or another.

A great freeway cruiser, elegant high quality interior w/iDrive, great leg room (especially the long-wheel-base Li). Around 80% of the online For-Sale listings center around the Midwest (mostly Chicago Metro Area, and Ohio), the East Coast (New York and surroundings), and the South (Texas). On the West Coast (SoCal), there a few 745i’s for sale, but far less than the Chicago and the East Coast.

Powerful and Sporty BMW 2-door Coupe for Under $15K:

You have a choice of a 2001-2003 E46 M3 Convertible with an SMG single clutch automatic with around 90K miles. It’s true that convertibles are heavier and drop in value faster than the coupes, as well as the SMG is not the preferred transmission of choice, as the maintenance runs fairly high. But owning a BMW with factory wide fender flairs, a rev happy naturally aspirated 333hp 3.2-liter inline 6 engine is worth every dime. A small piece of advice, ditch the soft top for a used hardtop that will run you around $1000 used online.

Stuck on a coupe and manual transmission, you can always opt for an e46 330ci. Another option would be a fairly clean BMW E36 M3 coupe, manual or automatic (usually fairly cheaper, but not preferred).

Powerful and Sporty BMW 4-door Sedan for under $15K:

A perfect sized sedan with unbelievable value, performance, and style. A pre-owned 2006 E90 330i sedan provides that hands down. A clean 65k-90k mile 330i equipped with a6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission is currently the BEST choice for a BWW for under $15000. Not to mention the undisputable fuel efficiency and the reliability of the 255hp 3-liter inline 6 cylinder.

Looking for something roomier? Then the 2005 and up E60 530i would be a good choice. It features the same drive-train as the 330i with added room and elegance. Needing more grunt, then go for the 4.4-liter V8 powered 545i, my 2nd BEST CHOICE for people that don’t care for fuel consumption, or slightly higher maintenance cost. Both cars are available with a 6-speed manual (fun to drive, and easier to sell in V8 form) or automatic transmission. Features an elegant high quality interior w/iDrive, great interior space that come in handy in long drives.

SUV, or SAV in BMW Speak for Under $15K:

A lower mileage 2000-2006 E53 X5 SAV powered with a 3.0 liter I-6, a 4.4 liter V8, or a 4.6 liter powerful V8 are your choices. If you can find a clean 4.6is, don’t hesitate to purchase it, it’s a beast with great looks. Another choice would be the smaller BMW X3 3.0i or 3.0si. Automatic transmission is a good choice for both models.

 Money Saving Tips. Keep In Mind the Following:

The best deals and the lowest mileage cars are located around the Midwest (mostly Chicago Metro Area, and Ohio), the East Coast (New York and surroundings), and the South (Georgia, Texas, and Florida).

Generally speaking, cars in the rust belt tend to have a good overall mechanical condition in maintained well. Look for a car that has been washed regularly, preventing salt corrosion. If you’re lucky, you might be able to get your hands on a car that has been stored most of the winters. For less that $1000 you can get these cars shipped to anywhere in the continental United States and Canada. Start your search now…

Looking for a newer BMW? Check out our list of the Best BMW under $25000 here.


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