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2012 BMW X3

Overview
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2012 BMW X3 Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 7.8

BMW's introduction of the X3 SUV in 2004 effectively launched a segment, the first of what would later seem an invasion of luxury crossovers from Acura, Audi, Infiniti and Mercedes. And while the concept – combining a traditional BMW dynamic with upright utility – seemed ideal, BMW's execution didn't go quite far enough; the first X3 was a tad ragged around the edges. Any shortcomings of BMW's first Sport Activity Vehicle (forgetting BMW's first M1) have been fully resolved with its second generation, introduced in 2011. The X3 SUV received new technologies, which go a long way in enhancing agility, efficiency and comfort. At its intro BMW's smallish crossover launched "Sport Activity Vehicle" as a moniker; in its current iteration it becomes a mantra.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you enjoy the connectivity supplied by BMW's platform team, but need, in your daily commute or weekend driving, a measure of utility, the 2012 BMW X3 SUV appropriately fills the bill. Its upright architecture and (relatively) generous greenhouse can stow or tow, while a choice of two responsive sixes and a dynamic platform inject some "sport" into any "activity."

You May Not Like This Car If...

With its all-wheel drive (AWD) built on RWD architecture, this isn't the best cargo carrier on a compact footprint. And when compared to alternatives – notably, Subaru's Forester and Acura's RDX – BMW prospects pay a premium for a German car assembled in South Carolina. Finally, the lack of an optional manual transmission might be an issue for the True B(MW)elievers.

What's New for 2012

With an all-new X3 in 2011, the changes for the 2012 BMW X3 are little more than tweaks to an already well-received SUV redesign.

Driving the X3

Driving Impressions The X3 SUV's raison d'etre is simple: Combine the best attributes of a BMW chassis and powertrain with a more practical and accommodating passenger compartment. At that the X3 succeeds...

wonderfully, with a truly planted dynamic and a cut-and-thrust capability fully in tune with today's urban driving. And when you're ready to get out of town, the 2012 BMW X3 satisfies with instant acceleration, adequate ground clearance and reasonable efficiency. We think BMW did an outstanding job in providing road feel in its Servotronic power steering, and the all-independent suspension strikes a careful balance between composure and comfort. And while we wish BMW had elected to provide a manual transmission in the base X3, its substitute – an 8-speed automatic – provides responsive performance, along with Sport and Manual modes. Finally, a claimed 0-60 time of less than seven seconds (xDrive28i) is nicely balanced by an EPA Highway rating of 25 mpg.
Favorite Features

xDrive Intelligent All-Wheel Drive
Now in its third generation, BMW's xDrive utilizes technology to facilitate both performance and traction. Normally torque is split 40/60 front/rear, but that can vary based on actual road conditions. BMW claims a dynamic ability "unparalleled" by other all-wheel-drive (AWD) systems, and committed BMW enthusiasts (probably) would agree.

Production at the BMW Spartanburg Plant
As a recent Chrysler advertisement claims, "What we make, makes us." And production of BMW's 2012 SUV offerings (X3, X5 and X6) for worldwide markets in Spartanburg should be a point of pride well beyond the South Carolina border. Add to that production the ability to pick up your ordered BMW at the plant, and the chance to visit a neat, albeit small, museum display within the plant campus, and you have compelling reasons (all other factors being equal) to make the X3 your next SUV.

2012 BMW X3 Details
Interior

With a base price of almost $38,000 for the X3 xDrive28i, can you say "leatherette?" Regrettably, you must; that is the standard upholstery in the base, albeit expensive, X3 SUV. We won't fault leatherette for its durability and easy-to-clean surface, but would hope the carmaker might at least offer a durable cloth as an alternative (both aesthetically and functionally) to vinyl. Beyond that shortcoming, we like what BMW calls "a generous and versatile spatial concept...with a modern, premium ambience and intelligent functionality." Highlights include supportive front seats, a 60/40-split rear seat (40/20/40-split is available) and tasteful Silver Matte trim. Automatic climate control is a win, while we're not sure why BMW insists on mandating its iDrive control system or reinventing the (automatic) transmission lever.

Exterior

Having lingered a full seven years without significant revision, BMW's design team might have gone to great lengths to differentiate the second-generation X3 from the first. And while the X3 SUV was showing its age, BMW did a credible job in providing an updated, fully contemporary shape while retaining the X3's unmistakable profile. We like the more organic flow of the new sheet metal, the athletic stance afforded by a wide track and short overhangs, and what appears to be a generous greenhouse. Regrettably, outward vision is marginalized by a D-pillar – that structure between the rearmost window and the hatch – which is too large. Not a worry if you've left traffic fully behind you, but a rather dominant concern when traffic's all around you.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Perhaps most notable in the 2012 BMW X3 SUV's standard package is all-wheel drive (AWD), as numerous competitors, even Jeep, often provide 2WD variants for the U.S. Sunbelt (or for those in the Northeast who simply head to Florida between October and April). Beyond xDrive, the inclusion of Hill Descent Control suggests an off-road capability few owners will utilize, while Dynamic Stability Control can come in handy on the daily commute. Inside, the aforementioned iDrive, Bluetooth wireless technology and an audio system boasting 12 speakers and 205 watts should put the "Beethoven" back in BMW.

Optional Equipment

As the BMW marketing team might suggest, "go for it," as the X3 option list is as long as France's Maginot Line. The biggest bump, of course, is opting for the xDrive35i over the more rational xDrive28i. The "35" gets you a turbocharged in-line six, providing an oh-so-symmetrical 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. Of course, navigation, premium audio, leather and a panoramic moonroof are typical optional fare. More noteworthy is your chance to build your BMW from a select choice of options, monitor its build via video clips and photographs, and then take personal delivery at BMW's Performance Center in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Under the Hood

BMW's 2012 X3 lineup offers two variants of the same 3.0-liter in-line 6 cylinder. In the xDrive28i a normally aspirated 6 cylinder delivers 240 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. Check the 35i box and you'll enjoy a turbocharged 6 cylinder providing 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. Both powertrains are paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. We think 240 horsepower is more than adequate for the X3 SUV's "sport activity" mission, but those driving at high elevations will benefit from turbocharging, as it "levels" the playing field in the thin air of high-altitude environments.

3.0-liter in-line 6
240 horsepower @ 6,600 rpm
221 lb-ft of torque @ 2,750-4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/25

3.0-liter in-line 6 Twin-Turbocharged
300 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
300 lb-ft of torque @ 1,300-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26

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2012 BMW X3 Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.8
Out of 10

Based on 36 Ratings for the 2011 - 2014 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.6/10
    Quality
    9.2/10
  • Reliability
    8.9/10
    Performance
    9.2/10
  • Comfort
    9.0/10
    Styling
    9.2/10

Solid, handles great

By on Thursday, April 10, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Fun to drive, very quick"

Cons: "none so far"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Very solid performer. Comfortable seats, intuitive electronics. Great leather, paint and storage. Plenty of room on back seat for tall people. Impressive MPG... been averaging 22 in town."

Solid, handles great

By on Thursday, April 10, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Fun to drive, very quick"

Cons: "none so far"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Very solid performer. Comfortable seats, intuitive electronics. Great leather, paint and storage. Plenty of room on back seat for tall people. Impressive MPG... been averaging 22 in town."

after 8 months, going to get rid of it

By on Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 19,500

10 4.0
overall rating 4 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
4/10
Value
1/10
Reliability
4/10
Quality
4/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
1/10
Comfort
3/10

Pros: "performance"

Cons: "user controls, navigation, I-drive"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"Worst user controls, worst navigation, plagued with engine warnings. twice after returning to the car, the engine is running. Car rattles and creeks. The I-drive is awful. Sorry I bought this car. The engine performs well, and transmission is smooth, You will hate the auto engine shut off. The dashboard and I-Drive controls are terrible. They couldn't possibly have focus grouped the user controls. This is my seventh trip back to the dealer. The engine warning light is on many times."

9 people out of 15 found this review helpful

Loving my 2014 BMW X3 28i

By on Sunday, March 09, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Excellent drive, well crafted interior, safe"

Cons: "Some bugs in onboard computer, blind spots"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I just leased a 2014 BMW X3 28i, and this is definitely the best car I have ever driven. The car deserves an almost perfect score. I would have liked to have rated this car a 9.5 overall, but I had to settle for a 9 given the rating system on KBB. So here's the good stuff. The drive of the BMW is simply outstanding. The X drive system offers sport, comfort and eco modes which offer three very different but excellent driving experiences. The sport drive makes you feel like you are piloting a Porsche, and even the 4 cylinder version of the car has incredible torque. The comfort drive is likewise excellent, although you can clearly distinguish a 4 cylinder from a 6 cylinder version. But you do get better mileage. The eco mode offers a bit less pep than the other driving modes, but the MPG goes way up. Since I leased the car three months ago, my MPG has averaged about 21 MPG, with more town and city driving versus highway driving. During longer highway drives, I have gotten 30-35 MPG consistently. The steering is crisp and responsive and the breaking is taught but not overbearing. The BMW driving experience is simply superior. My car is relatively new and I have experienced no major reliability issues despite a brutal winter in NJ this year. The interior of the car is something special. The leather finish is outstanding and the styling of the dashboard is excellent. The iDrive system is fantastic as well. I highly recommend the Navigation system which is unreal. The computerized dash is truly powerful and wide in scope. The only downsides I can think of with the car is that the dashboard computer can sometimes be buggy (i.e. clearing pre-set radio channels randomly), and also the car has blind spots on the driver side given the positioning of the rollcage."

11 people out of 19 found this review helpful

Awesome car for families

By on Sunday, February 23, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,990

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "fun to drive, spacious"

Cons: "tailgate doesn't close with key"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"This car is great for families on the go! The car drives great and I can always rely on it to take me where I want to go! If you need a luxury midsize SUV, this is the one!"

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Powerful and great, a few design misses

By on Friday, February 14, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Screaming fast. Zero to 60, in 5.6 seconds"

Cons: "Lame clock, Nav, electronics, and power steering"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"Screamingly fast 5.6 0-60, love it! Great leather and interior build, 20k miles with no mechanical issues at all. Feels safe and secure. Love the little LEDs that light up the curbs when you open the doors, the HID headlights are great. There was a creaking sound in the sunroof, that they fixed for free way past the "adjustments period" you hear about this issue a lot. Still creaks/rattles a little, but much better. Good handling, but the electric steering is a continuing disappointment (my wife's mini handles so much better, at half the price). Lots of software driven features are well intended, but a bit lame. Navigation is better than nothing, but not as good as if you glued an iPhone over the screen. The real time traffic on this 2011 is worthless, it only shows highway repairs, not real traffic. The internet lookup is so slow it seems broken. Even the salesman could not get the voice recognition to work, a very pale comparison to Siri in my phone. When you ask it what time it is, it lists the menu items on the screen at that moment. What I really would like, is a bmw app on my iphone for tire pressure readings, and alerts, and the rest of the time have that display show what is on my iPhone screen. BMW can't compete with apple/android, they shouldn't try. The AM radio is strange, it falls out of HD when the broadcaster's antenna is in line of sight, and sounds weird when out of HD. My sequoia's radio is much much better. The lock/unlock remote control works a long distance, but the beep is too quiet to hear in city noise, and what is worse, it will only beep/flash the first time you lock it. So I find myself unlocking and relocking, if I didn't hear the beep. Kind of lame. Dumbest design mistake: They sell this car to 40+ year old customers, but the clock is too small to read comfortably with out reading glasses, and what's worse, is that they dim it,and use a less contrasting color, at night, making it useless (the clock was fine on my previous 528i). I leave a mechanical analog clock meant for a motorcycle on tray under where the ash tray would have been -- gets lit up by a LED in the car at night. This may sound stupid, but hate the decorative crease on the drivers door -- it is supposed to look like wind coming over a wing, but with the car at a stop it looks like a limp human body part -- not the image they were shooting for! It really shows up in silver and gray, but less so in black and white paint. Overall car is great, and I'd buy it again. It is the right size. The X5 is bigger without any more passenger room, and slower with the same turbo 6 engine, but it looks a little better. The Audi Q5 looks better all around, but had a weak engine, it was sluggish when the seats were full with passengers."

5 people out of 5 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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