Unlike other websites and magazines, our ratings are not based solely on a singular road test, but rather a more encompassing batch of criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value. When comparing vehicles using our Rating System, it's important to note that the rating earned by each vehicle correlates only to the models within its class. For example, a compact car cannot be compared to a SUV—They are different vehicles altogether.
You can interpret our ratings in the following way:
5-Star: Outstanding vehicle. Only the most exceptional vehicles achieve this rating.
4-Star: Very Good vehicle. Very good and close to being the best vehicle in its class.
3-Star: Good vehicle. Decent, but not quite the best. Often affordable, but lacking key features found in vehicles of the same class.
2-Star: Below average vehicle. Not recommended, and lacking attributes a car buyer would come to expect for the price.
1-Star: Poor vehicle. Simply does not deserve to be on the road.
2014 BMW X3 OVERVIEW
In BMWspeak, the 2014 BMW X3 is a Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV). When the Bavarian automaker first coined the term, many journalists called it a clever marketing ploy. In reality, though, BMW does put more emphasis on driving dynamics than 90% of the SUVs and crossovers in production, so the term SAV is more than just marketing tool. For 2014, the X3 is available in two models with standard all-wheel drive.
What's New for 2014
Standard equipment for 2014 BMW X3 xDrive28i and BMW X3 xDrive35i models now include a universal garage door opener, auto dimming exterior mirrors, 40-20-40 split folding rear seats, a storage compartment package, ambiant lighting, BMW Assist eCall and BMW TeleService. The optional navigation system has a new iDrive rotary controller with integrated touchpad.
Choosing Your BMW X3
Your first choice is between four-cylinder (from $39,800) and six-cylinder (from $44,900) X3 models:
Both engines connect to a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels. For increased fuel efficiency, all X3s feature automatic start/stop, a system that shuts the engine down at a stop and restarts when the foot is lifted from the brake pedal.
The extra cost of the xDrive35i includes more than a larger engine:
The base xDrive28i comes with 8-way power front seats, automatic climate control, power-operated tailgate, rain-sensing wipers, and a 12-speaker/205-watt audio system with an AM/FM/CD player featuring HD radio and an auxiliary input.
The higher-trim xDrive35i has standard xenon headlights and a panoramic moonroof.
Like other BMWs, the X3 comes with complimentary maintenance for the first four years or 50,000 miles. Roadside assistance is also offered for the first four years.
Whichever X3 you choose, the scope of your optional equipment is vast. Check too many option boxes and the purchase price rises fast, especially since some features come in packages that cost thousands of dollars. Among the add-ons available are leather seating, navigation, heated front and rear seats, a 40/20/40 folding rear seat, heated steering wheel and lane-departure warning. For audiophiles a 16-speaker, 600-watt sound system is available. Drivers in search of higher performance can opt for packages that tighten the handling and employ larger wheels, most notably the $1,400 Dynamic Handling Package and the $3,000 M-Sport Package.
The size of the X3 has grown close to the size of the original X5, making it an excellent X5alternative for buyers who don't need the extra space. Our top pick in the X3 lineup is a lightly-optioned xDrive28i—more than enough performance and excellent economy make it the best value.