Overview & Reviews
New or used, the BMW X3 is a great option for premium crossover shoppers who want extra doses of sport and class. As expected in this segment, the two-row X3 offers a high seating position, all-wheel-drive traction and abundant equipment. However, it goes a few steps further with sweet performance-bred engines, above-average handling and genuinely upscale interior appointments.
Now in its second generation, the current BMW X3 is a much-improved vehicle, but it also has significantly more competitors than it used to. As such, the X3 isn't the easy choice it once was. It's still a class leader, though, and many years of the first-generation X3 are solid bets as well. If you're looking for a luxury crossover that's not too large, the BMW X3 certainly belongs on your short list.
Current BMW X3
The current X3 is available in sDrive28i, xDrive28i, xDrive 28d or xDrive35i trim. In BMW-speak, "sDrive" means rear-wheel drive and "xDrive" means all-wheel drive. The 28i models are motivated by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The 28d switches to a diesel-powered four-cylinder rated at 180 hp and 280 lb-ft. The 35i boasts a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 good for 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. Every X3 features an eight-speed automatic transmission.
While the X3 may be smaller and cheaper than the hefty X5, you won't feel short-changed inside. The same high-quality materials and construction are present, while standard luxuries on the xDrive28i include a power liftgate, eight-way power front seats, the iDrive electronics interface and a 12-speaker audio system with iPod/USB connectivity. The xDrive35i is similarly equipped but adds adaptive xenon headlights and a panoramic sunroof as standard. All X3s come standard with Driving Dynamics Control, which provides adjustable drive settings that alter the suspension, steering, transmission and throttle calibrations.
Options are largely grouped into packages. Highlights include adaptive suspension dampers, a performance-biased all-wheel-drive system, sport front seats, a head-up display, smartphone integration and a navigation system that brings a larger iDrive display screen.
In reviews, we've consistently found the current BMW X3 to be one of the most appealing luxury crossovers in its class. For those who want an ample dose of driving fun, it's very tough to beat -- especially if you're willing to pony up for the 35i's remarkably powerful and refined engine. For fuel economy fans, the xDrive28d delivers well over 30 mpg on the highway. Although the ride is rather firm, the X3 nonetheless excels at soaking up bumps, while its trademark sharp handling remains a strong suit. The competition's stiffer than ever in this segment, but the current X3 is definitely a top contender.
Used BMW X3 Models
The current, second-generation BMW X3 debuted for 2011. Styling changes from the first generation are subtle, but the X3 is a little bigger this time around, with a gentler ride, a considerably fancier interior and improved power and efficiency.
For its first two years of production, the xDrive28i featured a naturally aspirated inline-6 engine (240 hp and 221 lb-ft) that was turbine-smooth but less fuel-efficient than the turbo-4. The new base engine arrived for 2013, as did standard Driving Dynamics Control and power operation for the liftgate (both previously optional). The xDrive28d and the rear-drive sDrive28i weren't introduced until the 2015 model year, which also marked the advent of a few new features and minor exterior styling changes.
The first-generation BMW X3 was produced from 2004-'10. Originally, there were two six-cylinder models: the 184-hp 2.5i and the 225-hp 3.0i. The 2.5i was discontinued after 2005. As part of a comprehensive update for 2007, the 3.0i became known as the 3.0si (which was subsequently changed to xDrive30i for '09) and gained 35 more hp for a total of 260. A six-speed manual or six-speed automatic were available throughout.
Throughout its run, the first-gen BMW X3 provided generous seating space (even for taller adults) and a spacious cargo area. Like the current car, it was also known for being one of the most fun-to-drive SUVs on the market. However, earlier examples were criticized for their unyielding ride and austere interior appointments. Both shortcomings were addressed in the overhaul for 2007, which also brought mild styling tweaks. Accordingly, we advise admirers of this generation to focus on the 2007-'10 models.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 616.00
Hard to Hold... - 2004 BMW X3
By Terry Nobles - December 30 - 6:20 pm
The steering has a very heavy feeling, not sure if this is common to this vehicle type. The interior has faded, which is to be expected in an older vehicle, but evidently BMW uses different types of material that may have all been the same color when it rolled off the line, but now some elements are totally different colors. Also, the seats are a bit hard and unsupportive - I expected more in this class of vehicle. Those things being said, I am happy overall with the vehicle, but I haven't had it that long.
Best Ever SAV - 2015 BMW X3
By email@example.com - December 12 - 4:27 am
This is by far the best SUV/SAV I have ever driven. Quick and agile. Nothing else compares.
Great Crossover SUV IF you can afford it - 2007 BMW X3
By Craig Fauver - December 9 - 3:51 pm
I bought my 2007 BMW X3 3.0si with about 70,000 miles in January 2012. I was 28 years old at the time and excited about my purchase. It was a CPO and had a 6 month warranty with it. I drive about 30,000 miles annually and at almost 185,000 miles 4 years later I am left to ponder whether it was a good buy or not or whether I would do it again. The car I bought had a new sticker price of something close to $44,000, so considering that the first 5 years / 70k miles absorbed about $26,000 of that made me feel good about the purchase. It was KBB's book price for a private party sale in Good or Very Good condition. Now that I've put 115,000 miles on it I look back at the service and maintenance history and just as I was starting to get impressed by how little went wrong in 115,000 miles but then I hit about 182k and it needed a starter, then tires, then transmission. Needless to say it's been a bad month or so in the repair dept. Here's a list of what I've needed to have done from 70 - 185k miles at the approximate mileage: Every 10k - new oil and filter. Every 20k - new air filter, clean MAF sensor. 80k - Water pump at approx. 90k - tires 125k - Coolant expansion tank was cracked and replaced 135k - tires 150k - windshield washer pumps 150k - brake pads and rotors. 155k - ignition coils and spark plugs 165k - fuel filter 170k - changed brake fluid, bled brakes, new anti-squeal on pads 182k - tires 182k - starter 182k - transmission fluid & filter, differential & transfer case fluid (transmission started slipping, don't believe BMW lifetime fluids get them changed every 30-50k depending on driving conditions and climate). 185k - transmission (bought used with 99k miles for $1480 - a tad under $2700 after mechanic and shop fees)
Never Again - 2008 BMW X3
By Mackenzie - December 9 - 8:07 am
I just got my 2008 BMW X3 a few months ago back in April. I bought it off a used lot and as I drove away, the engine light came on. I've taken it in multiple times and I've had everything from my radio just suddenly not wanting to work to my car cutting off in the middle of a busy intersection. This car has almost gotten me in many accidents with its poor driving performance. I actually had it in the shop for a week during Thanksgiving and as soon as I got it back it broke down and left me stranded the day after. I got it back to the repair place and it magically had 10+ new issues. We have spent well over 3k in the past few weeks on this vehicle. I would absolutely never suggest this car to anyone especially as their first car unless you want to constantly have your car in the shop and 0 money in your wallet. I will never purchase a BMW ever again. They say to get rid of a BMW once it hits 85,000 miles... I should have listened. Oh, and not to mention its HORRIBLE gas mileage. I fill up every week and it costs around 50 bucks every time. It's ridiculous.
Eleven years going strong - 2005 BMW X3
By TonyM - November 30 - 2:44 pm
We purchase this 2005 3.0 X3 brand new. Besides its normal wear and tear and routine maintenance it has be by far the best and most reliable car we have had. We really got our monies worth, being with the military this car has been up and down the German Autobahn and cruising the Interstates in the southeast.
Good so far - 2015 BMW X3
By G - November 27 - 10:51 am
Still One of The Funniest Cars I've Owned - 2008 BMW X3
By rootforthecubs - November 12 - 12:29 pm
Purchased my pre-owned 2008 BMW E83/X3 coming off of a lease with 32,000 miles on the clock. Lucky enough to find a rare 6 speed manual, which sold me from the get go and unfortunately the dealership knew as in their words "we have 2 other people with cash in hand willing to buy the car sight unseen", and I believed them, but still got a fair deal. So far I haven't any electronic or sun roof issues which I understand come with the territory. Obviously can't speak to the automatic shifting complaints that are out there but I can say the 6 speed manual shifts like butter. In summary, the 2008 X3 is roomy enough for the family and fun enough for Dad to drive. The interior is appealing to the eye and logically laid out. My only complaint is that they stopped offering the 6 speed option after 2010 or I would have bought new.
Worse Vehicle Ever! - 2005 BMW X3
By Carey Goin - November 6 - 11:21 pm
Rides rough, lots and lots of repairs. I have had the moon roof repaired 2 times over 9k, new brakes, lots of electronic problems, water pump, radiator, heck the whole car has had problems. I only have 100k miles on the car. It has cost me a fortune.
Best in class - 2006 BMW X3
By Joe Hicks - November 5 - 10:12 pm
My BMW X3 seems to beg to be driven. It seems to be engineered to perform. The 6 cylinder has been very strong to have 130,000 miles on it. I would recommend anyone in the market for a suv to explore this option.
bucket list - 2010 BMW X3
By nelson cupello - October 28 - 1:33 pm
The car is great, little things are popping up that is annoying and have to take to dealership. The dealership does not give you an answer unless you bring it in the shop.