By KBB.com Editors
BMW's X3 "Sport Activity Vehicle" debuted in 2003 and has undergone a steady series of improvements year after year. Equipped with BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system, the X3 offers all the safety and security of the larger X5 in a smaller, more nimble package. Like the X5, the 2009 BMW X3's claim to fame is successfully wedding SUV attributes (aggressive tall-wagon look, utility, all-weather security, "command" seating position) to BMW attributes of performance and fun-to-drive handing agility.
The 2009 BMW X3 is less powerful and more expensive than others in its class and its ride and handling balance leans toward smooth-road handling. You may be happier with something more powerful, softer-riding and/or more affordable.
Changes for the 2009 BMW X3 are mostly visual, with new 17- and 18-inch wheel designs, new interior trim and fabric options and new color choices.
Driving Impressions The 2009 BMW X3 is sort of a tall 3 Series wagon and will entertain enthusiast drivers accordingly. Even without the available Sport Package, it stops, steers and corners like...a BMW should. Its 260 horsepower is less than that of most rivals, and its ride is slightly stiff-legged, though recent suspension tweaks create a somewhat softer ride than in previous models. We found our automatic-equipped test vehicle's throttle response a little jerky at times during routine driving, and the single-cupholder console is lacking in places to put things. There is a covered bin at dash-top center, however, and a second pull-out cupholder at the far right of the dash. We averaged roughly 19 miles per gallon around town and 21 mpg at highway speeds.
xDrive Full-Time All-Wheel Drive
With limited ground clearance and all-season tires, the X3 has few off-road aspirations but one of the best all-weather all-wheel-drive systems on the market. It electronically varies front-to-rear torque and traction control to optimize grip.
Optional Xenon Adaptive Headlamps
Automatically leveled and steered in response to steering angle, vehicle speed and turning rate, they light more of the road through curves and dips and are encircled by luminous rings that serve as parking and (if desired) daytime running lights. This option also adds a cornering light feature to the fog lamps.
The X3's interior has fold-flat second-row seats and tasteful wood trim on its instrument panel and center stack. This wood also decorates gracefully sculpted front door pulls that angle front-to-rear between twin door-storage pockets at their lower ends. The steering wheel has multi-function controls, and a convenient covered storage bin sits above twin air outlets at dash-top center. Non-fans of BMW's iDrive multi-system controller will be pleased that the X3 makes use of previous-generation 3 Series controls. Second-row head and shoulder room are good, but foot and legroom can be tight with the front seats adjusted for tall front-seat occupants.Exterior
The 2009 BMW X3 retains the slab-sided BMW look in a tall wagon shape. Its signature twin-kidney grilles, smaller than the X5's, sit above a blacked-out over-bumper air intake. Below the bumper, its black lower fascia houses additional air intakes for radiator and brake cooling. Quad round headlamps above round outboard fog lamps are covered by wrap-around clear lenses. In back, a functional roof spoiler houses the high-mounted brake lamp, and twin round exhausts protrude from the left side of the lower fascia. One clear differentiator from the larger X5 is its kicked-up window behind the rear door on each side.
The 2009 BMW X3's standard features include a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed STEPTRONIC automatic transmission, xDrive full-time all-wheel drive, variable-assist power rack-and-pinion steering, all-season tires on 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, a dual-panel panoramic moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, rear-window wiper and washer, halogen headlamps with automatic control, leather-wrapped tilt and telescoping steering wheel, height-adjustable eight-way power front seats with memory, leatherette upholstery, one-touch power windows, power heated outside mirrors, keyless entry with multi-function remote control, automatic climate control and AM/FM/CD/MP3 eight-speaker audio with auxiliary input jack. Standard safety equipment includes Dynamic Stability Control, electronic brake proportioning, anti-lock brakes, Dynamic Brake Control, Hill Descent Control and six airbags.
The X3 offers Cold Weather, Premium, Sport Activity and Sport packages, the latter adding 18-inch wheels and sport suspension, seats, steering wheel and exterior trim. Stand-alone options include a selection of optional wheels and tires, xenon adaptive headlamps with auto leveling, front and rear Park Distance Control, heated front seats and steering wheel, navigation system, dual power lumbar seat adjusters, premium audio system, leather upholstery, HD Radio, privacy glass, rear side-impact airbags and BMW Assist Safety Services.
The 2009 BMW X3 is powered by a 260-horsepower dual overhead camshaft (DOHC) 24-valve 3.0-liter in-line six with lightweight magnesium/aluminum construction. Like BMW's V8 engines, it features Valvetronic electronic valve actuation and Double VANOS variable valve timing for better-than-expected fuel efficiency.
3.0-liter in-line 6
260 horsepower at 6600 rpm
225 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 (manual), 17/24 (automatic)
By PJ on Friday, July 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 62,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "GREAT machine and FUN TO DRIVE"
Cons: "Premium gas."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Love my 2008 BMW X3 3.0si. Great feel and holds the road great!! A great driving experience. Had a 2006 325i and loved it too! I don't care what anyone says, there is nothing like driving a BMW, they are great cars. Only down fall is that I have to put premium gas in and now a days, it's really hitting my pockets."
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Bryan on Thursday, June 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 103,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive. Utility. Quirky good looks."
Cons: "Coil springs, transfer case, valve cover repairs."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I bought my X3 (E83) used with 48,000 miles on it in October of 2011. As of June 19, 2014, it has nearly 103,000 miles. I bought it as a transitional car after selling a new car that I no longer wanted. Quickly I realized what a great car the X3 is, but there were some major repairs. The rear coil springs broke so, I replaced all four with Eibachs. I repalced the shocks with Bilsein HDs. The setup makes the car handle better than with the junk OE stuff. Surprisingly, it rides much better too. Firm, but smooth and controlled. I had to replace the transfer case actuator switch ($900.00) and valve cover ($800.00+) in the fall of 2013. The crankcase breather is a part of the valve cover. When that goes, the whole valve and gasket has to be replaced. Recently I had the transfer case fluid, antifreeze, spark plugs, and differential fluids changed. All regular service items along with oil changes and brakes. Overall I like the car. It is fun, utilitarian, and handles like a sporty car. It is pretty quick too. I could have done without the major repairs. All things considered, if they still made this body style, I would probably buy another X3. Along with the Porsche Macan, I am considering the X1 as a replacement. The X1 has the quirky looks of an E83. To me, that is a good thing. One more thing. I have BMW style 150 wheels at all 4 corners (all are 19x8.5, 46mm offset) with brand new Pirelli Scorpion Verde tires in 255/40-19. This combo makes a huge difference in how the car responds. 255 mm wide tires in the front really bring it under control. Cheers!"
11 people out of 18 found this review helpful
By Jerryjohn on Sunday, April 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 66,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Sporty, fun to drive and performs very well."
Cons: "Poor throttle modulation causing jerky ride cold"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Bought "Certified" and fuel pump died 6 weeks later (still on factory warranty) so no cost but a 3 hour wait for a flatbed tow. Drives and handles much better than a regular SUV, faster and no lean in corners, but throttle modulation (drive by wire) sucks. Engine surges and car jumps when put into gear when engine is cold. Problem goes away once warmed up. Maintainance is expensive once off warranty. If you're looking for an SUV that performs like a large sports car, this (or the Porsche Cayenne) is it."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Slick on Friday, February 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 145,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Awesome car I have had it since 2006. Bought it with 24,000 Miles it has 145,000 it has zero problems. Highly recommend. My son has his license now, its probably the safest car for him to drive."
10 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Ataway on Monday, February 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 54,170overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Solid as a tank, reliable, driving dynamics, style"
Cons: "Would like automatic lift gate & rear view camera"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Great car to do it all. Plenty of space without being so large it does not fit into compact stalls. Lots of power, wonderful cornering and driveability, and is a very stylish package with the M Sport package. Really enjoy the soft, oversized M Sport steering wheel and sport tuned suspension with the sport package. Bluetooth works wonderfully. Such a great car!"
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By X3 owner on Sunday, January 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 84,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Bought this car used when it had 60k miles and the engine light has stayed on pretty much the whole time. I have had it for a year and a half and bought it from a dealer. Just over a month from having it, I had to get something on it fixed. I have had it just over a year and have had to fix things on it totaling over two thousand dollars. This car is a money pit and it still does not drive as nice as I got it. The light is on again and I will have a new problem fixed next week. It will cost me 500 bucks (400 for parts and 100 for labor). This has been the worst car that I have ever owned and it makes me question if I will ever buy a used or new BMW ever again. I am just so disappointed in the quality of this car. It just looks nice. That is about it."
13 people out of 20 found this review helpful