2018 X3 New Car Test Drive
The BMW X3 has aged with grace. Launched as a 2011 model and facelifted four years later, BMW's compact luxury crossover SUV still ranks among the best in class despite recently added competitors.
Several features now come standard on upper models of the 2017 BMW X3. BMW has dropped some neutral beige shades of leather and SensaTec simulated leather, but milk chocolate brown with orange stitching remains available.
Competition is fierce in the compact segment, which includes the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, Lexus NX, and Mercedes-Benz GLC. BMW's entrant should meet the needs of luxury-SUV shoppers, with its blend of style and practical merits. Fun to drive, the X3 also boasts an inviting set of available technology, as well as powertrain options.
Little has changed in the X3's attractive proportions since its debut. The X3 shares its running gear with the newer, more boldly styled X4. Both models share running gear.
Developing 240 horsepower, the turbocharged four-cylinder base engine delivers impressive performance. Working with a smooth 8-speed automatic transmission, the base model can hit 60 mph in 6.2 seconds. Rear-wheel drive is standard (X3 sDrive28i), but most models get all-wheel drive (X3 xDrive28i).
Coming closer to serious performance territory, the inline six-cylinder engine, also turbocharged, generates 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. Offered only with all-wheel drive and the 8-speed automatic, the stimulating BMW X3 xDrive35i needs just over five seconds to reach 60 mph.
A 2.0-liter, 180-horsepower turbodiesel engine was available for 2015. Then, in the wake of Volkswagen's emissions-falsification scandal, BMW said that its diesel X3 would be held back until regulators finished evaluating its emissions. In mid-summer of 2016, that testing was completed; and the X3 xDrive28d model returned to the U.S. lineup.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not rated the latest X3, though the 2015 earlier model earned a five-star overall score (four-star for rollovers). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has given it top Good scores in each crash test, except for the difficult small-overlap crash, which hasn't been rated.
Optional advanced safety features include blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and frontal collision warning with automatic emergency braking. The rearview camera is optional, part of a Driver Assistance package, rather than standard.
BMW X3 sDrive28i ($38,050) has the four-cylinder gasoline engine, rear-wheel drive, a power tailgate, power front seats, automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth, and a nine-speaker audio system with USB port and HD radio. X3 xDrive28i AWD ($40,950) adds all-wheel drive.
X3 xDrive28d ($42,450) has a turbodiesel engine and all-wheel drive.
X3 xDrive35i ($47,650) gets the six-cylinder engine with all-wheel drive, plus keyless ignition, lumbar support, adaptive headlights, a panoramic moonroof, and a premium Harman Kardon surround sound system with 16 speakers.
A Driver Assistance Plus package ($1,700) adds lane-departure warning, frontal collision warning, and pedestrian safety. Blind-spot monitoring, stop/go cruise control, and a surround-view camera system can be added. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charges.).