by Deiondre van der Merwe
The BMW X3 SUV blends luxury and practicality through an expertly designed recipe. As the German automaker's best-selling compact luxury SUV in the US, it boasts a host of standard features and spaciousness without sacrificing the sporty driving experience that BMW is so well-known for. The X3 is a good choice even at base-level, thanks to a turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder which pairs ample performance with impressive real-world fuel economy, though if you have the budget, the M40i's unbridled power and extra features make it the best of the lot, with a singing 3.0-liter turbo-six developing 382 horsepower. Of course, for those who live life one racetrack at a time, the X3 M might be more up your alley, but this is a standalone model reviewed separately. BMW has made sure there are enough different trim levels in the X3 range to appeal to more than just one market, but with competition including the Audi Q5 and the Jaguar F-Pace, it's not all smooth sailing for the X3.
As a carryover model from the all-new 2019 model, very minor additions are added to the current-generation BMW X3. Given that the 2019 model was packed to the rafters with features and modern tech, this isn't unfavorable. The new BMW X3 adds LED headlights as standard on the base model and navigation is now included across all trim levels. Some additional silver bits are found in the interior this time around, adding a slightly more luxurious look to the inside of the SUV. BMW has also given the M40i some extra power and it now boasts a 382 horsepower figure over its previous 335 horsepower figure from 2019.
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The X3 is as swanky as it's ever been, and thanks to a recent total redesign, the sporty SUV is modernly styled and inviting. The classic kidney grille was left untouched by the "bigger is better" squad, thankfully, and remains an acceptable size from its redesign in 2019. Both the sDrive30i and the xDrive30i ride on a set of 18-inch light-alloy wheels, while the M40i is blessed with 19-inch M-style wheels. Chrome-licked bits on the base model include its exhaust tips and grille frame and a sporty rear spoiler is found across all trim levels, but the sport-focused bits only get whacked onto the M40i in the way of an aero kit and subtle adds like blue-coated brake calipers, while those previously mentioned chrome items gets the blacked-out Shadowline treatment.
The size and design of the new X3 is a crowd-pleaser, it manages tallness without compromising on capability and its 66-inch height and eight-inch ground clearance allows for the handling of various terrains, not just tarmac. At a length of 186.1 inches on the M40i and 185.9 inches on 30i models , the X3 is longer than both the Audi Q5 and the Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV but has a shorter 112.8-inch wheelbase than that of the Merc. A maximum width of 74.4 inches for the 30i models and a slight increase to 74.7 inches on the M40i means the BMW is on par with both mentioned rivals in terms of dimensions. Curb weights across trim levels range from between 3,931 to 4,317 pounds. This makes the top-level trim M40i slightly heavier than the equally performance-focused Audi SQ5.
An extensive eleven-color exterior paint selection is available for the X3 range, though if you're opting for the 30i models, only two colors are available as no cost options. Strangely, BMW only makes one standard color available for its M40i which is Alpine White, though the top of the range model receives two exclusive shades in the form of Sunstone Metallic and Carbon Black, the latter available on the 30i models by equipping the M Sport exterior package. 30i models are available in both Alpine White and Jet Black as standard options. Three metallic hues are available for an additional $550 on all models and range from the understated Glacier Silver and Black Sapphire to a sportier shade of Phytonic Blue, but notably, the M40i doesn't get access to Jet Black, Dark Olive metallic, Terra Brown metallic and Mineral White metallic that are available.
Performance levels vary in the X3 range according to which engine and drivetrain you opt for, though neither is lazy and all will get you where you need to be on time. Even the smaller, base-level 2.0-liter engine found in 30i models is sprightly and manages a 0-60 mph run in six seconds flat, regardless of whether you opt for rear- or all-wheel-drive. Things get very interesting, however, when the M40i is opted for and the sportier model's 3.0-liter turbo six-cylinder catapults passengers from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.4-seconds, which is even faster than the Audi SQ5's 5.1-second dash. The M40i manages a top speed of 130 mph on all-season tires, which is increased to 155 mph on summer tires. It's safe to say the kids will never be late for school again. The only rear-wheel-drive X3 available is the 30i sDrive. The 30i xDrive and the M40i xDrive boast standard all-wheel-drive which inevitably adds some extra weight, but improves acceleration from a standstill in slippery conditions and offers additional grip in inclement weather.
A choice between two engines is available within the X3 range, and all trim levels share the same ZF eight-speed automatic transmission that rifles through gears seamlessly. Both the 30i sDrive and the 30i xDrive employ a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces a capable 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, which is on par with most rivals in the small performance SUV class including the GLC 300. The significantly more expensive M40i adds a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder into the mix that easily distributes 382 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels and just about matches the power output figures of the Jaguar F-Pace S, but delivers slightly more torque. Models in the 30i division certainly don't struggle on the highway and you're unlikely to have issues when passing slower vehicles. However, the M40i accelerates without a second thought and offers plenty of extra overtaking power on longer highway journeys.
Unsurprisingly, the seasoned German SUV delivers a stellar performance on the road and manages to stand out in a sea of accomplished compact performance SUVs including the Audi Q5 and the Jaguar F-Pace. It's agile and zippy even when equipped with the smaller engine choice, but true sportiness is only achieved when the M40i is opted for. Both models provide responsive, sharp steering and BMW's reputation for suspensions that channel enough firmness for excitement without compromising on comfort is held up nicely on the X3. You can expect some additional jarring from the 19-inch wheels and M-Sport suspension found on the M40i, but the sportier X3 won't outwardly show this until it takes on particularly uneven surfaces.
The rear-wheel-drive 30i does a good job at handling the SUV and if you aren't likely to be exposed to a light dusting of snow, it will do just fine, however opting for an all-wheel-drive model will add some extra grip and capability, and who doesn't want that? While you're opting for more in favor of better handling and increased comfort, you may as well add the optional Dynamic Damper Control for $1,000 for an even better driving experience on 30i models. For the M40i, the M-Sport differential and Adaptive M Suspension are optional add-ons that will elevate the sport-focused experience for a combined cost of $2,000. If you're trying to avoid splashing out, any of the three X3 trim levels will do just fine on the road and comfort is a guarantee.
The German-bred SUV is a fuel-conscious gem and boasts leading fuel economy figures for the segment. The 2.0-liter turbo found in the 30i models sips fuel and the RWD-equipped sDrive30i boasts EPA estimates of 25/29/27 mpg city/highway/combined and outshines both similarly configured engines from both Audi and Jaguar, with the F-Pace managing 22/27/24 mpg estimates. Opting for the 30i xDrive will result in a slight drop in fuel economy, with the AWD's EPA estimates sitting at 24/29/26 mpg. The bigger engine in the M40i outshines its rivals too, with EPA estimates of 21/27/23 mpg, beating the rival F-Pace V6S's 18/23/20 mpg EPA estimates. When the 17.2-gallon gas tank is full on the sDrive30i, you can expect around 460 miles of range, and the M40i gets a much lower range, just under the 400-mile mark.
BMW has managed to progress into the modern market without sacrificing timeless design in the X3 - business as usual for the sophisticated SUV. Clean, simple and premium design is the general theme throughout the inside of the BMW with an array of standard features on offer. The entire cabin is encased in premium materials, from the upholstery all the way to the dash. It offers more than enough space for a compact performance SUV and will serve purchasers well as a premium hauler for a small family with generous trunk space and foldable rear seats that can be snapped into a more spacious position for the day you drive the kids off to college.
Seating space in the German SUV is generous, as expected and features quite a bit of customization in terms of seating positions in the front and in the rear. 10-way power-adjustable seats with memory grace the front of the X3, and the rear seats feature a reclining function for added relaxation and comfort. Six-footers are unlikely to struggle in the front with 40.3 inches of legroom. The back allows for plenty of space and comfort for even the tallest of passengers, though the BMW has slightly less legroom to offer in the rear than both the Q5 and the F-Pace. Overall, the X3 has enough space on offer for a five-seater, and you're unlikely to struggle unless you're actually trying to transport five fully grown adults, we'd recommend sticking to a maximum of four.
A wide selection of upholstery choices are available for the X3 from its base model upwards, but only two are available at no extra charge on all models including the M40i. Two standard upholstery colors are available for the SensaTec leatherette inclusive of Black and a combination of Canberra Beige and Black. Optional Vernasca leather upholstery is available in six different colors for an additional $1,450. Notable colors include Mocha, Oyster, and Cognac, but our all-time favorite would be the black Vernasca leather with blue contrast stitching, but notably, the 30i models need to be specced with 20-inch wheels and the M Sport Package to qualify for this option. Soft-touch black material is used for the dash and doors, and a choice of four standard trims inserts are available including Dark Oak Wood, Aluminum, Fineline Cove Matte Wood and Grey Poplar Wood from base-level, while the M40i adds Aluminum Rhombicle as a standard trim insert option, though this spec does become available on 30i models with the M Sport Package.
Cargo space in the X3 is both well-planned out and competitive, though not the best in the class. In terms of overall space, the Jaguar F-Pace slightly outshines it, however for real-life usability, it will do just fine for a small family. Trunk space with all the seats up measures in at 28.7 cubic feet, which is slightly larger than the Q5's 25.1 cubic foot trunk. Impressively, 62.7 cubic feet become available when rear seats are folded all the way down. Dual cupholders and deep door pockets are found in the front and the rear and a considerably-sized storage compartment lies just in front of the gearshift. A center console offers space for a smartphone or two and a sunglasses case.
The BMW X3 does everything for you short of cooking dinner and comes loaded with standard features. All models come standard with LED headlights and taillights, rain-sensing windshield wipers and a power liftgate. Moving along to the inside sees push-button start, cruise control and advanced vehicle memory that saves recently used climate, seat, and audio settings as standard fitment too. There is a tilt/telescopic multifunction steering wheel and the driver and front passenger enjoy 10-way power-adjustable seats and automatic three-zone climate control. The M40i also sees the addition of keyless entry and satellite radio. From base-level, standard safety features include a rearview camera, park distance control and frontal collision warning as well as collision mitigation and pedestrian monitoring. Additional driver-assist options are available and the Driving Assistance Package sees the inclusion of lane-departure warning, while the Driving Assistance Plus Package adds adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality as well as blindspot monitoring, lane-keep assist, front cross-traffic alert and traffic jam assist.
The only notable absence to be seen in terms of infotainment on all trim levels would be the lack of Android Auto, but BMW has announced that it will be included from July this year. All X3 models come standard equipped with Live Cockpit Plus that includes iDrive 6.0 with navigation and voice operation. An 8.8-inch touchscreen allows for Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth streaming and one USB connection is standard. A 12-speaker premium sound system is standard on the SUV and belts your favorite songs out with perfect clarity. A 10.25-inch head-up display with iDrive 7.0 can be had as part of the Premium Package for even clearer images, which will cost a minimum of $2,750 on the M40i, with the price increasing for extra features on the 30i derivatives. For an additional $500, you can add wireless charging and a Wi-Fi hotspot to your X3, while the addition of a premium Harman Kardon surround sound system will cost $875.
Unfortunately, the 2020 BMW X3 has already been on the receiving end of three recalls for issues including a possible steering failure, faulty back-up camera and weak swivel bearings. The 2019 range has suffered a similar fate with recalls for issues including the failure of frontal collision warning and random activations of the emergency auto brake. It's not all bad for the SUV in terms of reliability, BMW also offers a four-year or 50,000-mile basic warranty as well as an unlimited-mileage/12-year rust-through warranty. Should you find yourself in any sticky situations out on the road, unlimited mileage roadside assistance is standard for four years.
The BMW X3's reviews in terms of safety are high, giving it a considerable advantage over competitors. Subsequent to its reviews of the X3, the IIHS awarded it a 2019 Top Safety Pick+ award. The burly BMW also boasts a five out of five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA, making it a great choice if you're a safety-conscious shopper.
Safety features on the X3 even from base level are more than enough to quell any concerns and seat-mounted front side-impact airbags as well as a driver's and passenger's front airbags and a front and rear head protection system are included along with park distance control and a protection system that is able to detect an imminent accident and responds by stiffening seatbelts, closing all the windows and activating braking. Frontal collision warning, automatic collision mitigation, and pedestrian monitoring join the list of features, and the only feature that is found on the M40i exclusively is automatic high beams. Three notable driver-assist packages are additionally available, including the Driving Assistance Package, Driving Assistance Plus Package and the Parking Assistance Package. The first two share lane-departure warning and blind-spot monitoring as well as frontal-collision warning and collision mitigation, however, the Plus package exclusively boasts adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality as well as lane-keep assist and a front cross-traffic alert. The Parking Assistance Package simply adds a surround-view camera system and autonomous parking.
The 2020 BMW X3 is an excellent choice for a host of different markets; it will suit a small family looking for a more premium way to cart the kids around, but won't put off the likes of the single businessman. It takes a great amount of skill to appeal to so many, but BMW has done just that with its top-selling SUV in the USA. It comes with enough space to get the job done without giving off an overly-SUV feel and is more agile than one would expect. Trunk space is on the larger end of things for the class and premium materials are found throughout the handsome BMW, though rivals offer fantastically styled cabins. A comfortable ride is a given, even when the sportier M40i is opted for and fuel economy is something to write home about, as it bests most rivals, even when the thirstier inline-six is the engine in question. It's certainly one for the shortlist if you're after a luxurious SUV that delivers on performance, interior quality and an all-round pleasurable driving experience.
The cost of the BMW X3 is simple, with only three trim levels to choose from. The base price of the sDrive30i differs only marginally in comparison to its all-wheel-drive equipped twin, the 30i xDrive. A starting MSRP of $41,950 is what you'll be in for when purchasing the X3 30i sDrive and opting for the 30i xDrive, this sees a small increase to $43,950. The M40i comes with a considerably heavier price tag of $55,900, though the extra thousands are accompanied by a much more powerful engine and an array of luxury and sport-focused features that aren't seen on lower models. The $995 destination fee has been excluded from the BMW X3 prices quoted here.
The 2020 BMW X3 range comprises the sDrive30i, xDrive30i, and the M40i. Two different engine configurations are found throughout the range from a smaller, 2.0-liter four-cylinder on 30i models to the bigger 3.0-liter six-cylinder found in the M40i. The sDrive30i is also the only RWD model in the range is the most affordable way of owning an X3. An eight-speed automatic transmission is a standard across all models.
The sDrive30i comes with a 248-hp engine and a RWD drivetrain, and offers a host of standard features including 18-inch wheels and a panoramic sunroof for the exterior while moving on to the inside sees the inclusion of push-button start, cruise control and advanced vehicle memory as well as three-zone climate control and 10-way power-adjustable front seats. Safety features on 30i models include front and rear park distance control, frontal collision warning, pedestrian monitoring, and automatic collision mitigation. The xDrive30i offers exactly the same list of features but adds an all-wheel-drive system
The M40i boasts all of the features from lower models but boasts a bigger, 382-hp engine, an all-wheel-drive system and sees the addition of 19-inch M-Sport style wheels. The top of the range non-M X3 also sees the addition of keyless entry and comes standard with an M Sport styling package.
Business as usual for BMW, an array of additional packages are available for the X3 for you to customize the SUV with personal preference in mind. Notable packages for 30i models include the Convenience Package that adds lumbar support, SiriusXM functionality, and keyless entry for $2,250. Both the 30i models and the M40i offer a Premium Package, but it's significantly more affordable to add on to the M40i. The Premium Package for 30i models adds heated front seats with lumbar support as well as a heated steering wheel, Live Cockpit Pro (Live Cockpit Pro only gets added to the sDrive30i with this package) that includes a 10.25-inch infotainment screen with iDrive 7.0, navigation and a head-up display for $5,000. Adding the Premium Package to an M40i is significantly more affordable and costs $2,450 seeing as some of the features are already fitted. Adding the Executive Package to 30i models will cost an additional $7,750 and adds features including Vernasca leather, a head-up display, gesture control, a surround-view camera, a parking assistant, ambient lighting, and a heated steering wheel. The package is a more affordable add-on for the M40i and costs $4,800 as automatic high beams and adaptive LED headlights already come standard with this trim level. In terms of better handling, dynamic damper control and M Sport brakes can be loaded onto 30i models under the Dynamic Handling Package for $1,300, while you can significantly improve your M40i with a $1,300 M Sport differential and adaptive M suspension for an extra $700.
If you're looking for a fuel-savvy daily SUV and aren't overly concerned about power and performance, the xDrive30i would be the model for you. We would recommend adding the Convenience Package to round the SUV off nicely. However, if you're looking for a more driver-focused performance SUV and you're willing to loosen the purse strings, the M40i is the winner. It offers all of the same features found on base models with added features such as a panoramic sunroof and keyless entry and adds a whole lot more power and agility thanks to the addition of the six-cylinder motor and M-Sport suspension. Add the Executive Package to this trim-level and you have a superb all-rounder.
At base-level the X5 carries a close on $20,000 price hike over the X3, but comes standard with a 335 hp variant of the inline-six engine from the M40i and more luxury. The X3's bigger, classier sibling boasts more standard features and a whole lot more space, which makes it a more suitable family-hauler, though trunk space figures aren't massively different between the two. The X3 is notably more fuel-savvy than its pricier sibling, thanks to its smaller engine options and lighter weight. If you're in the market for a well-rounded daily luxury SUV and aren't willing to fork out a whole lot of extra thousands, the X3 is the better choice for how much it offers, but if you have the budget for a larger luxury SUV, the X5 is the winner, even if it is a little less wieldy due to its size.
The X3 and GLC-Class SUV share very similar pricing at the base level, and given Mercedes' reputation for delivering excellently designed large luxury vehicles, it's a tough one to choose between these two. The Merc offers a better interior, which isn't a surprise as its the class-leader in many segments for its near-flawless cabins, but offers a diminutive 19.4 cubic foot trunk in comparison to the X3's 28.7 cubic feet on offer. The GLC also offers slightly more power over the X3, but as expected, the BMW bests the Merc in terms of fuel economy and performance on the road, so the marginally better power on paper doesn't justify opting for the Mercedes. The GLC delivers some extra standard features that the BMW doesn't see, including a swathe of advanced safety features the X3 isn't privy to, and is an all-round better-performing luxury SUV. The GLC-Class is the better buy of the two, unless you prefer performance over luxury, in which case we'd get the X3.
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