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- Highs Extremely agile, impressive power from optional turbo six-cylinder, ample passenger and cargo room.
- Lows Limited standard features, gets pricey when options are added, braking performance left us unimpressed.
- Verdict The BMW X3 is a family-friendly luxury SUV that’s practical and fun to drive, but loading on options could be a budget-busting proposition.
The BMW X3 is the German automaker’s middle child in its lineup of SUVs. Positioned above the smaller X1 and below the larger X5, the X3 is available with a turbo four, a turbo six, or a turbodiesel engine and can be configured in rear- or all-wheel drive. That’s a fairly standard blueprint for a small luxury SUV. What really helps the X3 stand out from its rivals is how agile and playful it is when you’re behind the wheel. The steering is linear and reacts quickly to inputs, while the compliant suspension soaks up bumpy roads with ease. Just be careful, the X3’s option sheet is a tempting and potentially very expensive place to spend your time.
What's New for 2017?
There are only small improvements for the 2017 BMW X3, and most of them are centered on cosmetic touches like new paint colors. Wireless smartphone charging and Wi-Fi hot spot are newly available, and an updated version of BMW’s iDrive infotainment system is standard.
- Base: $41,045
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Engine, Transmission, and Performance
A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder serves as the base engine in the X3. This powertrain sends 240 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. This provides the X3 with plenty of momentum for most driving needs. There's also a smooth and refined turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six available. With 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, not to mention standard all-wheel drive and the same quick-witted gearbox, this engine gives the X3 sports-car-like speed to match its already impressive handling. A final powerplant choice is a 2.0-liter turbodiesel that makes 180 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Its performance can best be described as adequate, but it does provide good fuel economy. Only the X3’s surprisingly long braking distances during a recent test drive left us looking for more dynamic sparkle in this energetic SUV.
EPA fuel-economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest numbers on current and older vehicles, visit the EPA’s website and select Find & Compare Cars.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Simple and to the point, that’s how best to sum up the attractive cabin of the BMW X3. It’s not the final word in innovative fashion, but everything is logically placed, and outward visibility is excellent. The second-row bench has adult-friendly levels of headroom and legroom, though getting three people back there will require a certain degree of familiarity. Cargo room is equally good, with more than 27 cubic feet of volume behind the 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatback. Standard features are a little skimpy considering the X3’s substantial starting price, however. Heated front seats, genuine leather upholstery, and even a rearview camera are extra-cost items.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The X3 is fitted with the latest version of BMW’s highly regarded iDrive infotainment system. This includes a 6.5-inch screen, HD radio, Bluetooth, voice recognition, and USB port. Adding navigation brings a larger screen, and other notable tech upgrades include satellite radio, wireless smartphone charging, a head-up instrument display, and onboard Wi-Fi hot spot. Unlike many of its rivals, the BMW X3 does not offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.