2004 X3 New Car Test Drive
The 2004 BMW X3 is an all-new, mid-level, near-luxury sport-utility powered by the company's proven six-cylinder engines. The X3 is equipped with BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system, Dynamic Stability Control and Hill Descent Control, all designed to give it tenacious grip and secure control in less than favorable conditions.
BMW may build the ultimate driving machine, but the X3 shouldn't be considered a contender for the title of ultimate off-road vehicle. This isn't BMW's intent. But the X3 should do what a BMW owner feeling the need for something akin to an SUV wants as well as or better than any other in its class does. And this it does.
The X3 is quick and fast, considering its heft. The xDrive puts it at the head of the class when weather or road goes north. It's roomy, both for passengers and cargo. And just as important, it's replete with safety features, both active and passive.
BMW offers its entry in the mid-size sport-utility segment in two configurations. The more affordable is the X3 2.5i, powered by a 184-horsepower, 2.5-liter, inline six-cylinder engine. The other is the 3.0i, sporting a 225-horsepower, 3.0-liter, inline-6. Both come fitted with a six-speed manual transmission and xDrive, BMW's take on all-wheel drive. A 5-speed automatic featuring Steptronic is available for both models ($1,275).
The 2.5i base model is nicely trimmed with standard features, including the usual power-assisted/memory functions; a four-way adjustable steering wheel; six-way manually adjustable front seats; a competent, 10-speaker audio system; faux leather upholstery; and micro-filtered climate control system. Options can add considerably to the bottom line. The 2.5i Premium Package ($3,800) adds power front seats with memory, a dual-panel, two-way power moonroof, cruise control, automatic climate control, foglights, rain sensing windshield wipers, and BMW Assist. The Cold Weather Package ($750) adds heated front seats, headlight washers and ski bag.
The 3.0i adds rain-sensing windshield wipers; cruise control; a leather-wrapped steering wheel hosting cruise and audio controls; automatic climate control; six-way power-adjustable front seats; an on-board computer, tilt-down right-hand outside mirror, fog lights, front and rear reading lights, front footwell lights, visor vanity mirror lighting and front center arm rest and storage compartment. Options include unique 18-inch wheels and high performance tires ($500).
The Sports Package ($1,500) includes a sports suspension and 18-inch wheels, and unique interior trim including a special steering wheel and seats.
Passive safety features include two-stage front airbags, front-seat side airbags and head protection curtains for front and rear seat. Adaptive brake lights signal the urgency with which the driver has pressed the brake pedal. Two standalone options worthy of special mention, and worth every pfennig, are the Servotronic steering ($250) and rear door-mounted side-impact airbags ($385).