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.

Best Value

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

Performance

BMW X3

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.

Style

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?

BMW X3

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.