The BMW X3 is a compact luxury crossover that dates to 2003. It's currently in its third generation that debuted in 2017. For the 2022 model year BMW has refreshed both the exterior and interior style, made updates to the infotainment system, shuffled some features packages, and improved the drivetrain. BMW offers a total of seven Sports Activity Vehicles (crossovers) and they increase in size with each numerical hierarchy. The X3 and similarly sized X4 offer much of the same powertrains and features, but the X4 is styled differently with a more coupe-like roofline. The standard X3 is available with either rear (sDrive 30i) or all-wheel drive (xDrive 30i) and one additional performance oriented M40i model. For the ultimate performance, step up to the X3 M which could be classified in a category of its own.
Under the hood is a 2.0L TwinPower Turbo inline 4-cylinder engine on standard models that delivers 248 horsepower. M40i models get 382 horsepower thanks to a 3.0L M TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder engine. And X3 M models get a twin-turbocharged 3.0L inline-six that delivers either 473 or 503 horsepower depending on the packages. All models mate to an eight-speed automatic. Prices start at $45,400 and range up to $59,950 for the M40i. X3 M models start at $72,800 and jump to $79,800 with the Competition package. Add in all the other goodies and you could top $89,000. Primary competition includes the Acura RDX, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Audi Q5, Genesis GV70, Infiniti QX50, Lincoln Corsair, Lexus NX, Mercedes-Benz GLB(C)-Class, and Volvo XC60. I spent time in an AWD X3 xDrive30i and here's what stood out...
Exterior Style (+)
Thankfully BMW's grille updates do not include the over-sized vertical kidney beans seen on
Some other newer models. Instead, the grille and new headlights are proportionate to the rest of the vehicle. The grille frame is finished in a pearlescent chrome with satin aluminum grille bars. Tweaks were also made to the front bumpers that have triangular air intakes that balance out the wider lower opening. It's a more chiseled look that feels more muscular. Around back are newly designed rear LED taillights that feature a black border and a three-dimensional contoured assembly unit with the LED turn signal lighting up in the middle. Changes were also made to the rear bumper with flush-fitting exhaust trim finished in black that surrounds a dual exhaust. Overall proportions are well done with minimal overhangs and a strong, wide presence from all angles. It's available in 11 different colors that include many shades of blacks and grey. The Brooklyn Grey metallic looked sporty and was different from many other greys on the market. The X3 has grown-up significantly from the first generation.
I really liked the wheels on my test model which came with an M Sport package that included 21" V-spoke Bi-color Orbit Grey wheels. They looked sporty and classy giving the X3 a much more athletic presence. Standard wheels are 19" Y-spoke grey wheels, but also available are a variety of styles in 20 and 21-inches finished in grey, black, and bi-color to create a look all your own. Step up to the M models and again either 20 or 21-inch wheels are available with designs unique to the M models. All the styles are appropriate for the X3, but many do feature performance-oriented tires so buyers may want to consider a second set for winters in the Midwest.
Overall performance will vary greatly depending on the chosen model. M models target a performance-oriented driver with up to 503 horsepower and will be the most athletic of the lineup. The more common models include the base turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder that gets 248 horsepower and 258-pound feet of torque. While it's the least powerful in the lineup, I was impressed with how agile and quick it feels. Even at its core, it scoots from 0-60 in a quick 6 seconds and the X3 only gets quicker as you move up the model line. It feels planted to the pavement around turns handling sharp corners with ease. It's enjoyable for both around town driving and when you get going on the highway. Steering is direct and nimble making this a fun to drive vehicle no matter where you go.
BMW's driving dynamics really kick in on the highway when you get cruising. The X3 is smooth shifting through its gears. It's tuned properly to shift gears at optimal times and maximize its power. If you want to control them yourselves, there is a manual mode, and it can be shifted via steering wheel mounted paddles or the electronic gear selector that should be pushed forward to go down a gear and pulled down to go up a gear. There are three drive modes that include Eco, Comfort and Sport which can be selected in the center console next to the gear selector. This is an engaging crossover with a firmer ride than others delivering a more sports car feel. Despite the firmer suspension, it still absorbs road imperfections well to deliver a smooth ride.
Note all the above performance notes are based on the 2.0L 4-cylinder model as I have not driven other versions. One could expect even more driving engagement and power from the 3.0L inline 6-cylinder models that post horsepower ranging from 382 up to 503.
Fuel Economy (+/-)
When the X3 arrived with a full 17.2-gallon tank it offered up around 475 miles of range. It has EPA estimates of 21/28/24 MPG city/highway/combined on the 4-cylinder AWD. Estimates are slightly higher on the FWD version and drop to 21/26 city/highway on the M40i and 15/20 city/highway on the M models. EPA estimates are competitive in this class, and it does require premium grade fuel. After a week of suburban driving, I averaged around 23 MPG.
BMWs used to be loaded with buttons which have since been scaled back. A refreshed ambiance takes over in the X3 and balances out a reasonable number of buttons with touchscreen and gesture commands. Sitting atop the center of the dash is a standard 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment screen that is also available in a larger 12.3-inch size. The system integrates wirelessly with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa. The system can be controlled via the touch screen, buttons/dials on the dash or center console, steering wheel controls, verbal commands, or gesture controls. I became very fond of the gesture controls which I discovered by accident. The system worked very well for me in turning the volume up/down, changing channels or pausing. Below the touchscreen are more standard climate control buttons that are intuitive along with a pair of air vents. And below that are the manual audio controls including a volume knob.
BMW also redesigned the center console which includes a "control island" with the traditional looking gear selector lever, start/stop button, electric parking brake, hill descent control, and the BMW control dial for the touchscreen. The variety of control options allow the driver to use whatever style they prefer and overall, the system was pretty intuitive.
Behind the steering wheel is a 12.3-inch digital cluster that changes appearance with the various drive modes. The display features crisp graphics that can have a customized appearance to show vehicle information, maps, audio, fuel economy or more. Other available tech features include a HiFi Sound System with a 205-watt digital amplifier, head-up display, over the air updates, advanced vehicle memory system, and more. One tech complaint is that the system stays on until detected passengers have exited the X3 which can cause confusion if it has been turned off or not.
Ambient Lighting (+)
Many vehicles are offering ambient lighting now to set the mood inside at night. In the X3, this option features lighting above the trim in the dashboard and ambient lighting that shines downwards below to create a relaxing atmosphere. The brightness of the ambient lighting can be adjusted independently of the interior lighting. Eleven color ensembles, six colors (orange, lilac, mint, bronze, blue and white) and functions such as "dimmed when driving at night" are available in the menu of the central information display. In the night design, the central monitor appears to float above the instrument panel. This feature stood out in the X3 with its clean interior design.
With a more simplified dash layout comes a clean interior design using premium materials. The overall look and feel are standard but pleasing. It lacks some of the contemporary aesthetics found in competitors like the Genesis G70 or Volvo XC60 which have a better mix of modern materials and unique design accents. Quality in the X3 is solid with tight gaps and durable materials.
Seats come standard with synthetic leather and power-adjustable front seats. There is sufficient head and legroom for all five passengers. Seats are comfortable, but stiffer than others, which aligns with the sportier flare of the X3. Comparatively, the Lexus NX and Lincoln Corsair feature more cushy types of seats. Available upgrades include genuine leather, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel. Visibility is good with large windows all around. An available panoramic roof lets in an abundance of light and provides a nice size opening for a compact crossover. The understated interior of the X3 works well as a balance to its engaging drivability.
Cargo Capacity (+)
Among the best in the segment, the X3 boasts 28.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats which more than doubles to 62.7 cubic feet with the seats folded flat. The seats easily fold flat via a handle at the top of the seats and there is underfloor storage for additional cargo. There's useful small-item storage throughout the cabin as well. A power liftgate comes standard, and a hands-free power liftgate is available.
Safety / Driver Assistance (+)
An expanded range of advanced driver assistance systems enhance both comfort and safety. BMW's Active Driving Assistant includes frontal collision warning with brake assist, active blind spot detection, lane departure warning, and speed limit info. An updated Driving Assistant Professional package offers the driver comfortable relief and increased safety in driving situations where there is a conscious desire for assistance. The optional Parking Assistance package also includes Traffic Jam assist for limited access highways and a Back-Up assistant, which helps retrace your way in tight or challenging situations. The new BMW X3 includes numerous driver assistance systems that process camera images and data collected by ultrasonic and radar sensors.
Also standard are automatic front seat belt tensioning which hug the driver / passenger from top to bottom for further safety reassurance. The driver focus and fatigue alert will also sense waning focus such as distracted drivers or hands off the steering wheel.
The X3 progressively became more enjoyable during my week with it. BMW's billing as a Sports Activity Vehicle aligns with its dynamic and engaging drivability. The subtle refreshed exterior makes adjustments in all the right places to make it an even more appealing vehicle. The combination of modern colors, sporty wheels, LED lighting and good proportions all combine to deliver a sharp looking low to mid-level BMW model. This one rises to the top of the segment and is one worth considering, especially for the more enthusiast type of driver.
First Impression Summary:
Test Vehicle: 2022 X3 xDrive30i
Powertrain: 2.0L TwinTurbo 4-cylinder
Exterior Color: Brooklyn Grey
Interior Color: Oyster Vernasca Leather
Options: Dynamic Handling Package ($1,400), M Sport Package ($4,100), Premium Package ($1,850), Live Cockpit Pro ($900)
MSRP as tested: $58,490 (With Destination & Delivery)