The BMW X3 is a small crossover vehicle that offers standard all-wheel-drive along with a good blend of luxury and performance. Now in its second generation, the X3 gains a powerful and efficient turbocharged four-cylinder as the base engine for the latest model year.
The latest generation X3 gains 3.3 inches in overall length, with an added .6 inches to the wheelbase, along with an extra 1.1 inches of width and 1.4 inches of height. Depending on the model, the new X3 still manages to shed about 50 lbs. Thanks to the larger outer shell, passengers will gain 0.8 inches of legroom in the back row, along with another 2.8 cubic feet of storage space in the rear hatch area.
The exterior of the new model is still recognizable as an X3, albeit with a decidedly more modern look. Nothing radical here, but the X3 now shares the same basic design language as seen on BMW's new 5- and 7-Series models.
The outgoing X3 has been criticized for a sub-par interior, but BMW has addressed that issue for the new generation SUV, employing a number of high-end materials.
North American-specification X3s now feature two different engines: a turbocharged four-cylinder in the base model, and the turbocharged six expected in the top model. The X3 xDrive28i replaces a 240-horsepower naturally-aspirated six with a new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces the same 240 horsepower, but gains 39 lb-ft of torque - to a peak of 260, from 1,250 all the way to 4,800 rpm. Fuel economy is up from 19 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway for the old engine to 21/28 mpg.
BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system remains standard, as does an eight-speed automatic transmission. Despite the arrival of a new engine, the entry-level X3 retains its xDrive28i nomenclature.
The xDrive35i adds a turbocharged 3.0-liter straight six rated at 306 horsepower and 294 lb-ft of torque, transforming the X3 into a serious performer. The sprint from 0-62 takes just 5.7 seconds, with the xDrive35i topping out at 152mph. The xDrive35i is rated at 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.
Also new, BMW now offers an M Sport version of the new X3. The package comes complete with a swap to 19-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, an M Sport leather steering wheel and the full exterior M Sports aggressively-styled body kit.
Other minor changes for the latest model year include the power liftgate becoming standard on all models, the Driver Assistance Package now includes lane departure warning and the M Sport Package includes 19-inch wheels even on the xDrive28i.
Other final touches include a reworked interior that include new sport-minded seats with uniquely matched headliner and matching upholstery, M Sports gear selector and variable steering.
Although not standard, M Sports-equipped X3's will also have an available exclusive color: Carbon Black Metallic.
Competing against the X3 in the premium small crossover segment are the elegant Audi Q5, the surprisingly stylish Volvo XC60 and the rugged-looking Mercedes-Benz GLK350.