Seems everybody wants a crossover or SUV. The BMW X3 has been a top seller for the German automaker since it was introduced for the 2004 model year. It gets redesigned for 2018 to keep it competitive in this red-hot segment.
The new X3 isn’t a whole lot different from the outgoing model, but it is a bit larger and gets some updated tech and convenience features. This is also the first X model to get an inverted twin kidney grille and fog lights with a hexagonal design. The X3 is produced at the BMW plant in Spartanburg, SC.
The five-passenger X3 is available in two trims, xDrive30i and the M40i, which is the first ever M Performance model in the X3 lineup. Each trim has its own powertrain. Starting price for the XDrive30i is $42,450 and $54,300 for the M40i.
The xDrive30 gets a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. My tester, the M40i, has a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that makes 355 hp and 369 lb.-ft. Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and both models have all-wheel drive. M Sport brakes are standard on the M40i.
The M40i drives like, well, a BMW. While other Bimmer crossovers have been a bit lackluster in their driving dynamics, the X3 delivers. The M40i is quick off the line (BMW says it can go from zero to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds) and has plenty of power for accelerating and passing at freeway speeds. This BMW would be right at home on the German Autobahn. Steering is precise and the M40i stays planted when cornering. The eight-speed automatic shifts smoothly and quickly, always finding the right gear, and paddle shifters on the steering wheel let you shift manually if desired. You can choose from Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes.
BMW’s intelligent xDrive all-wheel-drive system distributes power to the wheels with the most grip, making the X3 an excellent vehicle for the ever-changing weather conditions in the Pacific Northwest.
Fuel efficiency is about average for the class. EPA ratings for my tester are 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway with a combined rating of 23. I got 24 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The interior is upscale with top notch materials and a clean layout. Everything looks and feels good. Seats are comfortable and supportive, with BMW’s manually extendable thigh supports. Passengers in both rows of seating enjoy good leg- and headroom. The interior feels roomy and becomes even more airy with the optional panoramic moonroof.
Standard features on all X3 models include LED headlights and foglights, automatic wipers, roof rails, power tailgate, rearview camera, HD radio, Bluetooth, 6.5-inch display and power-folding, auto-dimming and heated mirrors.
The infotainment system is very user friendly. I like that it can be operated with the touchscreen, voice commands, buttons and knobs, or with BMW’s gesture control, that lets you adjust things like volume by twirling your finger. The graphics look great and the system is quick to respond. Integrating your smartphone is easy with Apple CarPlay; however, there’s no Android Auto.
All the BMW driver assistance systems are available, including Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go, which can brake the car to a halt in stop-and-go traffic and then automatically drive forward when traffic moves again. The Driving Assistance Package includes Active Blind Spot Protection, Lane Departure Warning, Daytime Pedestrian Protection, Frontal Collision Warning with City Collison Mitigation, Cross Traffic Alert rear, and Speed Limit Info (Navigation system required). The Driving Assistant Plus Package offers Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Active Lane Keeping Assistant with Side Collision Avoidance, Traffic Jam Assistant, Evasion Aid & Cross Traffic alert front and rear. Be forewarned, though, that these packages are spendy and the price of our X3 can quickly skyrocket $10,000 or more.
The X3 has 28.7 cubic feet of space with both rows in place. That grows to 62.7 cubes with the second row folded. The 40/20/40 split folding rear seats provide flexibility in hauling passengers and cargo.
The X3 is the first BMW crossover in the U.S. to have a factory-installed trailer hitch and can haul up to 4,400 pounds.
The M model drives like a BMW
Roomy interior with lots of room for passengers and cargo
User-friendly infotainment system
Gesture Control is fun, albeit a bit gimmicky
Price can escalate in a hurry with added options and packages
Android Auto isn’t available, only Apple CarPlay
My tester starts at $54,300. Phytonic Blue Metallic paint is $550. Driving Assistance Package is $900 and adds active blind spot detection and lane departure warning. Premium Package is $2,950 and adds a heated steering wheel, front and rear heated seats, navigation system, head-up display, Advanced RTTI and remote services. The Executive Package is $2,550 and adds Parking Assistant Plus, Gesture Control, digital instrument cluster, Active Park Distance Control, rear view camera and surround view with 3D view. Adaptive M Suspension is $700. 20-inch M light Alloy wheels are $950. Apple CarPlay connectivity is $300. Wireless charging is $500. Destination charge is $995 bringing the grand total to $65,045.
With its redesign, the X3 remains a competitive entry in the hot compact luxury crossover class. It drives like a BMW should and offers luxury and utility.