Edmunds puts a 2004 BMW X3 through the proverbial paces— and the baby X handles them with quickness and grace. Based on the 3-series, the X3 is essentially a scaled-down X5 that retains the same high level of sportiness and build quality. While "utility" is clearly the smallest part of the SUV equation for BMW, the X3 makes up for it with superior asphalt manners. With the time-tested 2.5 liter, 184-hp engine from the 325i mated to a 6-speed manual (a 3.0 liter, 225-hp powerplant is also available), a new AWD system called xDrive, and the stellar fit-and-finish that comes standard with the blue and white propellor badge, Edmunds' editors equate the X3 to a "sports car with a high seating position." The X3 2.5 is MSRP'd at right around $30,000.


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