BMW’s well-regarded compact SUV is no longer its smallest.
If you previously passed on the X3 because of its cut-rate interior or its punishing ride, you should check out the newest version, which has addressed both shortcomings. The new, high-quality interior looks and feels much like that in any other BMW. As for ride quality, it has improved and can be fine-tuned with the optional Driving Dynamics Control selector and Electronic Damping Control. The Driving Dynamics Control system also varies steering effort, accelerator responsiveness, transmission shift mapping, and stability control programming. We’ve found that either of the sport modes makes for hyperaggressive throttle response and frenetic shifts from the eight-speed automatic; the normal mode is fine. There’s certainly no need to amp up the energy level of the X3’s powertrain. The six-cylinder turbo engine is potent enough to launch the X3 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds; even the new four-cylinder turbo can reach 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. Both versions are more economical than the old X3. The four-cylinder in the 28i improves fuel economy by 2 mpg in the city and on the highway compared with the previous six-cylinder. It also beats the current 35i by 2 mpg. Either model can quickly get pricey when loaded with items from BMW’s seemingly mile-long list of options. In fact, it’s not hard to push the price of the X3 into X5 territory.
new for 2013
Originally launched in 2004, the X3 underwent its first major redesign two years ago. The X3 is now larger and looks more like an X5 inside and out. For 2013, the base 28i model traded its normally aspirated 240-hp six for an equally potent, but more economical, 2.0-liter turbo four; the 35i retains its 300-hp turbo six. Both models use an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Front, side, and side curtain air bags; traction and stability control; ABS; a tire-pressure monitor; and hill-descent control are standard. Xenon adaptive headlamps are included on the 35i and are optional on the 28i. Rearview and sideview cameras are available, as is lane-departure warning. BMW Assist with automated crash response is optional.
Very quick (xDrive35i)
Decent ride quality
Can get pricey
Manual transmission is gone
Base Price Range: $39,395–$44,495
TRIM LEVELS: xDrive28i, xDrive35i
BODY STYLE: SUV/crossover, 5-passenger
ENGINES: 2.0L turbo I-4, 240 hp, 260 lb-ft
3.0L turbo I-6, 300 hp, 300 lb-ft
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
PASSENGER VOLUME: 88.0 cu ft
CAPACITIES: Towing 3000 lb; cargo (rear seats up/down) 27.6/63.6 cu ft