The BMW of compact crossovers, the X3 brings athletic road manners to a class that's focused mainly on efficiency and utility. The X3 does pretty well in those departments, too, making it a compelling lifestyle vehicle for couples and small families.
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2016 BMW X3 Overview
What's New For 2016
Six-cylinder models get a premium Harman Kardon sound system as standard equipment.
Choosing Your BMW X3
The X3 starts out with a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder good for 240 horsepower. The engine can be paired with rear-wheel drive or BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive system, which comes standard with the optional diesel and six-cylinder engines.
The diesel version of the 2-liter puts out 180 horsepower and achieves 30 mpg in combined driving. The range-topping choice, a 3-liter six-cylinder turbo, delivers 300 horsepower for class-leading performance. All engines are joined by an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The X3 can accommodate up to 63 cubic-feet of cargo, about what you would expect in a crossover of this size.
Like most BMWs, the standard equipment on any X3 won't impress many luxury buyers. Its four trim levels correspond mainly to engine and drive type:
- sDrive28i: Equipped with the 2-liter turbo and rear-wheel drive, plus a power tailgate, power seats in premium vinyl, Bluetooth phone and audio, BMW's iDrive electronics interface, a 12-speaker sound system with HD radio, and wood interior trim.
- xDrive28i: Adds all-wheel drive with hill descent control.
- xDrive28d: Same as above, but with the diesel engine.
- xDrive35i:Carries the six-cylinder engine, plus adaptive xenon headlamps, LED running lights, a panoramic sunroof and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system.
Any X3 can be outfitted with one of two trim lines:
- The xLine features aluminum exterior trim and lightweight 19-inch alloy wheels.
- The M Sport line comes with sport seats, 19-inch double-spoke wheels, and specific interior and exterior trim.
Most other options are grouped into packages. The popular Premium Package includes leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof (standard on the xDrive35i), keyless ignition, a hands-free tailgate and satellite radio. The Cold Weather package gets you heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel and retractable headlamp washers.
The Technology package includes a head-up display, integrated smartphone apps and a navigation system (also available separately). For enhanced stability when hitting the curves, the Dynamic Handling adds adaptive suspension dampers and a revised power steering system.
The Driver Assistance Package equips the X3 with a rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors, while Driver Assistance Plus tacks on a surround-view camera system, active collision mitigation, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning. Adaptive cruise control can be added to the package at additional cost. Rounding out your choices are upgraded exterior lighting for each model and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system.
With the available trim lines and rich option packages, it's remarkably easy to add $10,000 or more to the X3's price. We recommend starting with the Premium package and prioritizing additional selections based on your budget and driving habits.
2016 BMW X3 Review
Choosing between a luxury car, a sports car or an SUV can be tough. Fortunately with the BMW X3, you don’t have to. It conveniently combines all three categories into a compact luxury crossover that is sure to please.
Pricing and Equipment
It's best to think of X3 trim levels in two mix-and-match ways: four-cylinder or six-cylinder and rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The entry level X3 28i is priced from $39,000 and comes standard with:
- 18-inch wheels
- SensaTec upholstery
- Rain-sensing windshield wipers
- Power-folding, heated side mirrors
The XDrive 28i we tested also came with Surroundview ($750), a camera system that gives you a 360-degree view around the car and heightens situational awareness. We recommend you get it. It also had the Harman Kardon surround sound system ($875) -- a big plus for audiophiles.
We found the turbocharged 240-horsepower four-cylinder to be very responsive. There was no hesitation between our hitting the pedal and the engine delivering power. Apparently, BMW’s twin scroll turbo technology has done its job of eliminating turbo lag.
Other performance notes:
- The 4WD xDrive system splits power 60/40 with the front and rear wheels. The result? Better handling, traction and control. If you live in colder climates, the xDrive is a must.
- We discovered that the X3's 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque deliver more than respectable performance for what is still essentially a family car.
- Sort of a pro and a con in one: The X3’s suspension is so athletic and firm, it takes some getting used to. The uncanny lack of roll and pitch when we turn or brake feels strange at first.
- We sampled the X3’s off-road capabilities, and the main takeaway is that it's really is more of a luxury vehicle with added traction than a 4x4. Then again, most BMW drivers are not know for off-roading weekends.
- We love the spacious, roomy cabin -- it feels like a luxury sedan.
- Space, space and more space. This is one of the X3's strongest selling points.
- To us, the controls and LCD felt a little confusing and cluttered at first.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
Handling. This thing hugs the road like a BMW should. We feel the X3 far exceeds others crossovers in this arena.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
Packages are too pricy. We know it’s a BMW, but you could easily add $10,000 to this vehicle with technology and performance packages.
The Bottom Line
We are definitely on-board with the X3. It offers a great combination of utility, performance and luxury. And it lives up to its BMW pedigree. We recommend going with one of the xDrive four-wheel drive models, especially if you live in colder climates. It delivers better traction, handling and safety which is critical for a family vehicle operating in northern states.
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