After seeing success with the original X5, BMW followed up with the smaller X3. First introduced for the 2004 model year, the current third-generation X3 debuted for 2018 and looks to provide compact crossover practicality with BMW performance and comfort. The X3 range now spans from fuel-efficient hybrids to track-ready M models.
Although much improved over its predecessor, the X3 doesn't stand out among competitors.
As expected from BMW, driving engagement is a highlight in upgraded versions of the X3. Even base models handle with good composure. The M40i model has improved reflexes and a punchy engine that made it entertaining over its year in our long-term test fleet. Then there's the X3 M, which has a beast of a motor and might be the next-best thing to an M3 wagon.
Less expected from BMW is the X3's somewhat lackluster luxury. The underwhelming center console design undermine luxury claims a bit. In an era of ever-improving technology, the X3's features suffice but aren't leading-edge.
Another qualm is the reliability problems we encountered with our long-term test X3 M40i. Despite those, we like the X3 for its comfortable ride, solid everyday practicality, and good handling. It's not the best luxury compact crossover, but none of its flaws are major.
Regardless of engine, all X3 models use an eight-speed automatic transmission. A 30i badge indicates the X3's standard engine, which is a 2.0-liter turbo-four generating 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. RWD is standard, while BMW's xDrive AWD system is available. In MotorTrend testing, an AWD X3 with this engine accelerated from a stop to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds. EPA-rated fuel economy is 25/29 mpg city/highway with RWD, and 23/29 mpg with AWD.
The M40i model has a turbocharged 3.0-liter I-6 making 382 hp and 362 lb-ft. With standard AWD, the M40i's 0-60 mph time measures a MotorTrend-tested 4.8 seconds. Fuel economy is rated by the EPA at 21/27 mpg.
High performance is found in the X3 M, which uses a twin-turbo 3.0-liter I-6. As standard, it produces 473 hp, while in Competition spec, it's tuned to 503 hp; both make 442 lb-ft. Sport-tuned AWD is included. In MotorTrend testing, the X3 M Competition sprinted to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds. Fuel economy for both variants is EPA-rated at 14/19 mpg.
The xDrive30e plug-in hybrid model offers maximum efficiency. It combines a 2.0-liter turbo-four with a 12-kWh battery for total output of 288 hp and 310 lb-ft, sent through standard AWD. Acceleration to 60 mph should take about 5.9 seconds. BMW says this X3 model has 18 miles of all-electric range and returns 60 mpg-e in combined city/highway driving.
BMW intends to apply technology from its i3 and i8 EVs to more mainstream vehicles. This includes crossovers, and BMW has already announced an all-electric version of the X3 called the iX3. First shown as a 2018 concept, the iX3 features a 74-kWh battery generating 268 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.
Although the iX3 is available in sale in Europe and elsewhere, BMW doesn't plan to sell it in the U.S. We wonder if that's a mistake, considering that the all-electric crossover segment is heating up—the Tesla Model Y, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Audi E-Tron, and Jaguar I-Pace are already on sale here or will be soon. Perhaps instead of the iX3, BMW has promised dedicated EV models for the U.S. (instead of vehicles offered with and without EV powertrains).
From the NHTSA, the X3 earns the maximum five-star overall safety rating. The X3 performed well in IIHS testing, receiving 2019 Top Safety Pick+ designation for models with the available driver-assist suite and LED projector headlights. The X3 also earned the top Good score in all six IIHS crashworthiness tests.
Standard driver-assist and active safety features are expanded for 2021. All X3 models now include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Adaptive cruise control with lane keep assist is optional on all trims.
Cargo space measures 28.7 cubic feet behind the X3's second row. With the 40/20/40 split-folding second-row seats lowered, maximum cargo space is 62.7 cubic feet.
Front-row headroom is 41.1 inches in the X3, which compares to 41.7 inches in the Audi Q5. Second-row headroom is 39.1 inches in the X3, close to the 39.3 inches in the Q5. Front-row legroom measures 40.3 inches in the BMW, a bit less than the Audi's 41.0 inches. Second-row legroom is 36.4 inches in the X3, not as much as the Q5's 37.8 inches.
An 8.8-inch infotainment touchscreen is standard, while a 10.3-inch unit is fitted on higher-end models. GPS maps, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay are included, and—new for 2021—Android Auto is available. Base models have a 5.7-inch gauge cluster information display, while a 12.3-inch display is featured on higher trims; a built-in hard drive is also added with the larger display. Options include a head-up display, wireless charging pad, 360-degree view parking camera system, and a semi-autonomous driving system. A 12-speaker audio system is standard, which can be replaced by an available 16-speaker premium setup.
|$2000||BMW announces a Military Program for cash customers.||12-31-2021|
|$500||BMW announces a Military Program for customers who Lease/OwnersChoice/Retail Finance/Select Finance through BMW Financial Services that is good towards a purchase or lease of select models.||12-31-2021|
|$0||1.9% Financing available for varying term lengths : 36, 48, 60 Months - BMW announces APR rates on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.]||06-30-2021|
|$1250||BMW announces Lease Credit on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.]||06-30-2021|
|$2500||BMW announces a Customer Cash Credit on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.]||06-30-2021|
|$2500||BMW announces APR Credit that is good towards a purchase through BMW Financial Services of select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.]||06-30-2021|
|$1000||BMW announces Lease/APR Credit on select models for eligible College Graduates.||01-03-2022|
|$0||2.9% Financing for a maximum term of 72 Months - BMW announces APR rates on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.]||06-30-2021|