The X3 is the most popular BMW in the U.S. and has sold well around the globe. This Sports Activity Vehicle, as BMW calls it, slots in between the X1 and X5 and is a good mix of comfort, athleticism, tech, and practicality. It’s the Goldilocks of the BMW SUVs in that it has more space than the small X1 but is more maneuverable than the midsize X5. The big drawback is poor fuel efficiency.
Base Price: $69,900
As Tested: $82,095
Mileage: 15 mpg city/20 mpg highway/17 mpg combined
The X3 gets updated exterior styling for 2022 including a large one-piece kidney grille, headlights, rear lights, new front and rear bumpers and new wheel designs. Inside, the center console and controls get some tweaks including a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and the addition of an optional new 12.3-inch iDrive screen.
The 2022 X3 comes in 30i, M40i and the high-performance M trims. Starting prices range from $43,700 to $70,100. Rear-wheel-drive is standard on the 30i models and all-wheel-drive is available. BMW’s xDrive AWD system is standard on the M40i and M trims.
The plug-in hybrid model, the xDrive30e is discontinued.
The engines also get some updates for 2022. The base engine in the 30i is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The M40i gets a peppier turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder that produces 382 horses and 369 pound-feet and has a 48-volt mild hybrid system.
The X3 M is powered by a 3.0-liter BMW M TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder engine that generates 473 horses and 442 pound-feet of torque. My tester with the Competition Package cranks out 503 horsepower and 479 pound-feet. Every M comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive that sends all of the engine’s torque to the back wheels when needed.
The M Competition drives much more like a sports car than an SUV. It accelerates like a rocket – BMW says it can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds! You could take this Bimmer out on the track, then take the kids to soccer practice. Steering and brakes are responsive, and the M Competition stays planted when cornering. This is one exhilarating ride whether you’re cruising down the freeway or carving through a curvy country road. The M Competition is also compliant for driving in busy city traffic. However, the ride is firm and some may wish for a cushier feel.
Fuel economy is bad, even for a performance vehicle. EPA ratings for my tester are 15 mpg city and 20 mpg highway with a combined rating of 17. I got 20 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The cabin is beautiful with a clean design and is loaded with tech and luxury features. The leather seating in the M is of saddle quality and other high-end materials make for an upscale ambiance. A 12.3-inch digital gauge and 12.3-inch touchscreen dominate the dash and center console. Adults in both rows enjoy generous leg- and headroom.
In addition to leather seating and the long list of standard features on the X3, the M comes standard with tri-zone climate control, 14-way power front seats with memory, infotainment system with 12.3-inch touchscreen, power M sports seats with electrically adjustable headrests and illuminated M logos, M multifunction leather steering wheel, 16-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system, navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Available features include upgraded leather seating, wireless charging, head-up display, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, rear window shades, panoramic sunroof, and BMW gesture control which lets you use finger movements to do things like adjust the volume and answer and end phone calls.
Standard driver assistance technologies include blind sport monitoring, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, frontal collision warning with city collision mitigation, and speed limit information.
Available driver assistance technologies include adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology, right-of-way warning, intersection warning with additional city brake function and the avoidance maneuver assistant, which detects pedestrians and cyclists.
The infotainment system becomes user-friendly with a little practice. You can control it several ways: through the touchscreen, a rotary controller and buttons on the center console, steering-wheel controls and voice. A physical volume knob is handy for adjusting audio.
Cargo space is good for the class. There are 28.7 cubic feet behind the second row and 62.7 cubes with the second row folded. A power liftgate is standard.
Aggressive good looks
Exhilarating sports car-like handling and performance
Packed with features and tech
Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
Lots of room for passengers and cargo
Horrible fuel efficiency
Some won’t like the firm ride
My tester starts at $69,900. Brooklyn Grey met is $550. The Competition Package is $7,000 and includes the M sport exhaust system, 21-inch V-spoke bi-color 765M JB, M seat belts, M sport seats, and extended shadowline trim.. The Executive Package is $3,650 and includes a heated steering wheel, front and rear heated seats, parking assistant plus, head-up display, wireless charging, gesture control and rear view camera. Destination charge is $995 bringing the grand total to $82,095.
You don’t normally think of an SUV as being an ultimate driving machine. But BMW nails it with the 2022 X3 M Competition. Performance is what you’d expect from a sports car, and you also get all of the practicality of an SUV. And the X3 is loaded with creature comforts. Check it out if you’re shopping for a small luxury SUV and don’t mind the poor fuel efficiency.