The BMW X3 hybrid is one of the more recent additions to the Munich-based manufacturer's lineup in the USA, but it's already one of our favorites. This is because the regular X3 is one of the best luxury compact SUVs on offer. With a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine combined with an electric motor, the X3 xDrive30e produces a total of 288 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. As usual, an eight-speed automatic transmission is standard fare, but as competitors like the Lexus NX hybrid and Volvo XC60 hybrid also continue to evolve, we have to ask if the X3 is still the best choice. With more standard equipment for the 2021 model year, it may just remain at the front of the pack. Let's see if it still has what it takes to make an electrified SUV as attractive as a traditional one.
The X3 hybrid was only recently introduced to the US market as an all-new model in 2020, but those who waited for the 2021 model, get a number of convenient enhancements. The biggest news is that Android Auto is finally provided alongside the preexisting Apple CarPlay system. The 2021 BMW X3 hybrid also gains Live Cockpit Professional as standard, thus benefiting from a 12.3-inch driver display and a 10.25-inch touchscreen display. The Active Driving Assistant with lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and pedestrian detection is also standard, as is SiriusXM satellite radio with 360L.
|xDrive30e Plug-In Hybrid||
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Hybrid
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Plug-in Hybrid
The BMW X3 plug-in hybrid is not obviously different to the rest of the range, meaning that the exterior looks almost identical to that of a regular X3. You get LED headlights and adaptive brake lights as standard along with 18-inch wheels, LED fog lights, subtle front fender vents, and the pre-bucktooth kidney grilles that are a calling card of the BMW brand. You also get a pair of chromed exhaust tips and a subtle roof spoiler. The only obvious clues to this car's electrification lie in its badges and the driver's side fender port for charging. Optional equipment includes a panoramic sunroof and different wheels ranging in size from 18 to 20 inches.
The X3 hybrid's dimensions are very similar to those of the regular X3, with a length of 185.9 inches and a wheelbase measuring 112.8 inches. Width is rated at 74.4 inches while height is 66 inches. Where you'll notice a big difference is in the curb weight. On the regular X3, it starts at 3,931 pounds, but this heavier hybrid weighs at least 4,586 lbs, making it the heaviest X3 on offer.
There are no changes when you compare the 2021 BMW X3 hybrid to the 2020 version. You get a 2.0-liter turbo-four producing 181 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque under the hood. If that sounds a little meager, don't worry. The combustion engine is supplemented by an electric eDrive motor that produces 107 hp and 77 lb-ft of torque for a total of 288 horses and 310 lb-ft of twist. Thanks to xDrive all-wheel-drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission from ZF, the heaviest X3 achieves the run from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.9 seconds and has a top speed of 130 mph.
BMW's commitment to sheer driving pleasure is sometimes difficult to prove, but in the X3, it's on display for all to see. The xDrive AWD system provides plenty of grip, and unlike most of the competition, the X3's system favors sending its power to the rear wheels. The result is outstanding handling and a satisfying sense of precision from behind the steering wheel. In addition, BMW has done a great job of integrating the regenerative braking system, making the car easy to stop smoothly, whether in traffic or when slowing from higher speeds. The steering has been critiqued for being a little too heavy in its sportiest mode, but you soon acclimatize. The ride is good, too, even without the optional adaptive dampers. The X3 Hybrid goes well, rides well, and stops well. What more could you ask for?
Although gas mileage isn't class-leading for the X3, it's pretty good. No official figures have yet been published for the 2021 model of the X3 Hybrid, but we expect it to get the same rating as the 2020 version. That model achieved figures of 60 MPGe when utilizing both electric and combustion motors and a combined 24 mpg with gas alone. According to BMW, you can expect 17 miles of all-electric range while its 13.2-gallon gas tank should keep you going for around 317 miles if you're careful with the throttle. With a level 2 charger, the X3 Hybrid will fill its battery in approximately three hours.
The interior of the X3 Hybrid is a comfortable place for five adults to sit, with remarkable adjustability ensuring that anyone can get comfortable. The front seats boast ten-way power controls, and even the rear seatbacks offer the ability to recline. All seats are comfortable and supportive, and the driver has a great view out in all directions. Getting in and out is not a chore, either. The X3's increased size in comparison to the first generation has paid dividends in passenger comfort, making this a great road trip companion.
Loading your goods in the cargo area of the X3 is a carefree job, thanks to a remote release on the power-operated tailgate. Once that hatch lifts, you are greeted with 27.2 cubic feet of volume, enough to make fitting a quartet of large suitcases relatively easy. That's just a bit less than the 28.7 cubes in the conventionally-powered X3. If that's not enough space for you, the rear seats fold in a 40/20/40 split, opening up 59.4 cubic feet of volume.
Passengers will be pleased to note the inclusion of four cupholders, decent door pockets with bottle holders, a reasonable glovebox, and generous center console and center armrest storage.
As you'd expect from a premium German product, the X3 is laden with features; the 30e part of the name indicates that it comes with a long list of standard equipment. Although most will never use it, the X3 Hybrid comes with launch control. What buyers will use is the tri-zone automatic climate control system, the 12.3-inch driver info display, and the rain-sensing wipers. Other standard features include dynamic cruise control, heated power-folding wing mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, LED headlights with cornering, adaptive LED brake lights, a power tailgate, push-button start, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and low-speed autonomous emergency braking.
Options include a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, automatic parking, a surround-view camera, a head-up display, ambient lighting, adaptive dampers, manual rear sunshades, auto high beams, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and high-speed forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking.
BMW's outstanding iDrive system returns to the X3 for 2021, now with the long-awaited inclusion of Android Auto to complement the already-included Apple CarPlay. It boasts a 10.25-inch touchscreen display and a center console rotary knob, along with a 32GB hard drive, voice control, a Wi-Fi hotspot, HD Radio, SiriusXM satellite radio, navigation, Bluetooth, a pair of USB ports, and a 12-speaker sound system. If that's not fancy enough for you, a 16-speaker Harman Kardon system is available, as is gesture control.
Nobody wants to hear about reliability issues on a new vehicle, but unfortunately, the 2021 X3 has suffered one so far for a potential short-circuit on the battery. 2020 iterations were affected by a recall for seat belt sensors not working effectively, too.
In any case, a limited warranty covers the X3 Hybrid for the first four years or 50,000 miles along with the expected eight-year/80,000-mile hybrid component warranty. Four years of roadside assistance are included, too, as is a three-year/36,000-mile complimentary scheduled maintenance plan.
Thus far, the plug-in X3 Hybrid has not yet been subject to reviews by the NHTSA. However, the traditional X3 configurations on which it is based scored a full five stars. Over at the IIHS, there has been no review of the BMW X3 hybrid specifically either, but the 2020 standard X3 achieved the highest possible honor of a Top Safety Pick+ award.
If anything goes wrong, you are protected by the standard inclusion of frontal, side-impact, and rollover curtain airbags. You also get a rearview camera, LED headlights with a cornering function, rain-sensing wipers, parking sensors, crash preparation and post-collision braking systems, adaptive brake lights, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and forward collision detection with low-speed automatic emergency braking. Options include full-speed collision mitigation with evasion assist, lane keep assist, a head-up display, a surround-view camera, front cross-traffic alert, adaptive LED headlights with auto high beams, automatic parking, and adaptive cruise control.
The X3 is already an excellent SUV, and luckily, this is one of the few cases where adding a hybrid system does not detract from the vehicle in the slightest. The X3 Hybrid still boasts impressive performance from its powertrain, getting to 60 mph in under six seconds. The rear-biased AWD system is both grippy and fun to experience, while the comical inclusion of launch control is both a lighthearted joke in a hybrid and a sign that even on cars like this, BMW is trying to maximize driver enjoyment. It's a good vehicle for the passengers too, boasting tri-zone climate control, plenty of convenience features, a compliant ride, and a stunning interior that comes in various colors. Often, a hybrid feels like a base model, but this one feels properly premium. Sure, the options can get a little pricey, but with more standard equipment than ever before, the X3 Hybrid is a brilliant choice and emerges as a pristine example of what a luxury SUV hybrid should be.
Premium European machines are generally associated with a high cost, and the X3 is not exactly about to become known as the biggest bargain in the world. Nevertheless, it's not offensively expensive, with a base price of $49,600. A $995 destination charge applies, but the MSRP can drop considerably as this model qualifies for a federal tax credit of $5,836, making it cheaper than a regular X3 xDrive30i. Naturally, you can blow all those savings by building a fully loaded model, and seeing the cost elevated to beyond $65k is not impossible to achieve.
The X3 Hybrid is only available in a single trim level, and with a single powertrain choice, so we'll focus our attention on the options. As attractive as the M Sport kit is, it costs an extra $4,600. If you plan to keep this car for a long time and aren't concerned with resale values or what others may think, you may want to gloss over this one. Instead, that money could be used on features like heated front and rear seats and a heated steering wheel. If you opt for the Executive package at $6,200, you can get those heated front seats and steering wheel, gesture control, a head-up display, an automatic parking system, a surround-view camera, a panoramic moonroof, adaptive LED headlights, ambient lighting, and keyless entry. Alternatively, you can skip some of those luxury features with the Driving Assistance Professional package that costs $1,700 and adds adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go. Or you could go for both packages, bringing your real-world price to around $53,000.
Not everyone wants the added weight of a hybrid system and will happily sacrifice some fuel economy for better driving dynamics and performance. If you're one of those people, the regular X3 is available in xDrive30i flavor. Like the hybrid model, it comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot, an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and xDrive AWD. It produces 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, making it capable of similar acceleration to the xDrive30e. With a base price of $45,000, it's cheaper, too - as long as you don't consider the rebates that the hybrid model qualifies for. If AWD isn't up your alley, an even cheaper RWD version is available while gearheads can opt for the astonishingly quick X3 M40i version. Whichever you choose, all are simply excellent. Personal preference, and how much you're willing to spend, will dictate what is right for you.
The Lexus NX Hybrid is one of the first luxury SUV vehicles to feature a plug-in electrification system for better gas mileage. Perhaps that has helped Lexus and Toyota to save costs since the NX Hybrid costs just $40,060 in its cheapest configuration. Unlike the Bimmer, the NX is available in three different trim levels, although the pricier variants are more of a styling package collection than altogether different cars. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder in the Lexus is supplemented with three electric motors to produce a total of 194 hp. As a result, it takes over three seconds longer to reach 60 mph, compared to the Bimmer, and only tops out at 112 mph. Still, cars like these aren't bought for their athletic performance, and an average mpg rating of 31 makes this far more frugal than the X3. For a properly affordable yet stunning luxury hybrid SUV, the NX is hard to beat. However, it is aging and needs updates to stay relevant. Until then, the X3 beats it.