It's no secret that BMW built its reputation on sport sedans. These days, though, crossovers are filling the coffers of the Munich-based brand. Of the various stilted utility vehicles proffered by the blue-and-white roundel, the 2019 X3 comes off as a sort of Goldilocks, giving up some space compared to the larger X5 but managing to be more spacious than the lilliputian X1 and X2. It is rightly sized and smartly priced - in other words, good ammunition as BMW guns for the title of best-selling luxury marque.
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2019 BMW X3 Overview
What's New for 2019
The X3 was all-new for the 2018 model year, so there's no significant changes for 2019.
Choosing Your BMW X3
Pack a lunch and grab a water bottle or two: it's an arduous hike through the jungle of BMW Designs, Tiers, powertrains, and trim levels. Luckily, the underbrush of options for the X3 isn't as dense as, say, a 3 Series. Credit that to the fact that all X3s come in just one body style - the four-door, SUV-like two-box shape - and that only two engines are currently on tap.
The proletarian motor is a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder, found in both the rear-drive sDrive30i and the all-wheel-drive xDrive30i. It produces 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, and is paired with an eight-speed automatic. With this setup, 60 miles per hour arrives in six seconds flat.
Those with a need for speed will probably be hankering for something a little more visceral than the 248-horse 2.0-liter. BMW shows the full-throttle folks some love with the M40i's turbo six-cylinder. Making 355 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, it can shove the 4200-pound crossover to sixty in just 4.6 seconds, a figure that BMW claims is the best in this class.
While gas mileage has yet to be released for the 2019 model year, there's little reason to believe it should differ from the 2018 models. Expect 22 miles per gallon city and 29 highway for the 30i, and 20/27 for the M40i.
The two 30i models offer three Designs to choose from – xLine, Luxury, and M Sport. xLine is standard; it includes 18-inch wheels, black SensaTec leatherette seats, and Shadowline exterior trim (otherwise known as black plastic). For an additional $2,050 buyers can get the Luxury Design, which adds more chrome, leather seats with contrasting stitching, and piping, and a SensaTec dashboard. For $5,300 over the base xLine, the M Sport Design can be had, dressing up the X3 with an aerodynamic body kit, Shadowline trim, adaptive LED headlights, panoramic roof, 19-inch wheels, and aluminum trim.
Continuing with the 30i models, once a Design is chosen, the next step is to determine the Tier. The default Simplicity Tier is essentially the base model – standard features include ten-way power front seats, sport steering wheel, 12-speaker sound system, iDrive infotainment system, three-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, and auto-dimming mirrors.
The first upgrade is the $2,850 Convenience Tier, which includes Lumbar Support, SiriusXM radio, keyless entry, and a panoramic moonroof. The $6,250 Premium Tier includes all that as well as real-time traffic information, heated seats and steering wheel, navigation, Apple CarPlay, head-up display, and remote services. At $9,750, the Executive Tier includes the aforementioned, as well as active parking assist, gesture control, LED lights, digital gauge cluster, auto high beams, and surround-view camera.
Only once a Design and Tier have been chosen is access granted to colors, packages, and standalone options. For the M40i, there are (thankfully) no Tiers and Designs to choose from, so all that nonsense can be disregarded.
While it's nice to blitz to sixty in just 4.6 seconds, the starting price of $56,000 is a little too dear to make it worthwhile; at that price, you can pick up better-equipped luxury crossovers that won't be that much slower off the line. The real winner here is the weather-ready xDrive30i done up in the Luxury Design and equipped with the Premium Tier. It costs $51,845, but comes with all the important luxury features customers are pining for.
2019 BMW X3 Review
The 2019 BMW X3 is more refinement than redefinition, but it does its job with vigor. Utility is plentiful, and road manners continue to approach the standard set by the 3-Series. BMW’s polished interiors round off the package. The crossover segment continues to grow, and the X3 is a luxury mainstay. It deserves its place in the pantheon, but BMW can get ridiculous with the option pricing. Spec carefully, and you’ll be rewarded with a car that can fit in almost anywhere.
The performance-oriented X3 M40i is excellent to drive, and it’s surprisingly efficient. Sadly, it’s almost a full $12,000 more expensive than an all-wheel-drive xDrive30i, which makes it hard to recommend for value.
The good news is that the smaller 2.0-liter four-cylinder is still a gem, especially in combination with the capable eight-speed transmission. BMW’s option structure is a maze, but we would keep things simple with the Premium Tier, which adds most of the most essential tech and luxury features, although a rearview camera is somehow not standard. To get one requires the Parking Assistance Package, which pushes the sticker price north of $50,000.
All told, our X3 would look like this:
- Model: 2019 BMW X3 xDrive30i
- Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder
- Output: 248 hp / 258 lb-ft
- Transmission:Eight-speed automatic
- Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
- MPG: 22 City / 29 Hwy
- Options: Premium Tier ($6,150, lumbar support, XM radio, panoramic moonroof, LED headlights, keyless entry, navigation, a head-up display, heated front seats and steering wheel, traffic information), Parking Assistance Package ($1,300, front and rear parking sensors, parking assistant, surround-view camera), Metallic Color ($550).
- Base Price:$43,645 (including the $995 destination charge)
- Best Value Price:$51,645
Gifted with a balanced suspension and solid powertrains, the X3 is as strong a performer as you’re likely to find in this segment. The M40i model gets a peppy turbocharged six-cylinder engine good for 355 horsepower, which is excellent in combination with a sportier all-wheel-drive system. The X3 won’t off road any better than most crossovers, but it has enough clearance to handle a farm road or two.
The X3 suffers in the steering department, where an overly firm map masks some of the sensations. It necessitates experimenting with the damping settings, which loosen a bit in Comfort mode. Otherwise, it’s hard to criticize the X3’s capability – it’s a solid all-around performer.
Starting with the 2018 model, the X3 got lower, wider, and longer. The glass is tall, which is a tad funky on the outside but lovely for visibility. Seat space is enough for adults to be comfortable in the back. In-car storage is thoughtful, with plenty of nooks and slots for phones, drinks, and gadgets. Infotainment is in the form of BMW’s iDrive system, which is capable once you get used to it.
For all the customizability, it’s hard not to come away from BMW’s option selection with a sour taste. Many options require others. Adding Apple CarPlay or a rearview camera to a base model requires first adding navigation, which means a full two grand gone. Without navigation, the central screen is a much smaller 6.5-inch unit. Even the colors are extra – all except non-metallic black and white are $550 options. On a vehicle with a starting price above $40,000, these pitfalls in the labyrinthine configurator feel harder to stomach.
The Best and Worst Things
Sedan-esque manners in a genuinely practical crossover are hard to pass up. We just wish BMW would iron out the list of standard features.
Right For? Wrong For?
The BMW X3 is right for adventurers who want a weather-ready car that’s still fun to drive. The X3 will fit all your ski equipment and even haul your buddies to the base, and in the summertime it handles curvy roads with aplomb.
Those who require the utility of a full SUV will still have to look elsewhere. A third row is reserved for the X5, and the X3 won’t keep up with a Range Rover off road. Despite its well-tuned suspension, it still doesn’t quite match the sports-car feel – it’s too tall for that. But in between these extremes, the X3 covers an awful lot of ground.
The Bottom Line
Buyers seem to be drifting more and more toward quiver-of-one cars. The 2019 BMW X3 comes closer than ever to delivering: fun in the corners, spacious and practical, and luxury where you need it (as long as you can pay). There are still reasons to check out competing models (Jaguar’s turbodiesel, Audi’s technology), but the X3 offers a package with temptingly few compromises.
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