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2012 BMW X3

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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.

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
8.9
Out of 10

Based on 59 Ratings for the 2011 - 2016 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.5/10
    Quality
    9.3/10
  • Reliability
    9.1/10
    Performance
    9.3/10
  • Comfort
    9.0/10
    Styling
    9.0/10

Better than 2012 Audi Q5 2.0T

By on Tuesday, August 04, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Fun to drive."

Cons: "Radio volume placement."

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

"Traded my 2012 Q5 2.0T for BMW X3. Transmission is smooth and no jerking like the Q5. No issues at all. Run flat tires still have life at 21K. No squeaks and rattles. Towing hitch is completely removable. Everything about this car is great. Service and sales experience have been great. Two small improvements would be nice: I phone 6 does not connect to car for e-mail and texting. Cup holder with radio volume knob position causes you to put car into N. You will only do this once..."

4 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Superb driving experience...long or short drives.

By on Thursday, July 23, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Quick, fast, safe, fun and comfortable."

Cons: "For a golfer, tight boot, but the seat goes down."

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

"I've been driving BMW's for 33 years, beginning with a wonderful 320, continuing with 5-series and now my second X3. What surprised me most was the improvements over the past couple years. The 2015's and the 4 cylinder, the added length and width, the amazing electronically-assisted steering and a few others. The car is incredibly zippy, almost snapping your neck when quick action is needed, and without the slight pause into overdrive. Safety features are superb and the comfort level is unsurpassed. Our one long road trip took us almost 4,000 miles. Rather than fly, we wanted to experience the car. I've been behind its wheel for 14 hours at times, enjoying every minute. My long time experience with BMW's has shown me how trouble free the cars are, and how they are so thoughtfully built for both driver and passenger. Special features are everywhere, all adding to the comfort, safety and enjoyment."

6 people out of 14 found this review helpful

BMW all the way!

By on Monday, July 20, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 175

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Comfort,Handling, Accelleration and Fuel econony"

Cons: "No Posted Speed Limit included With Navigation"

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

"I find the shifter to be odd but once you are familiar with it - it works well. The most annoying thing that may not be an issue for most is the navigation will not display the posted speed limit. This is quite surprising since it is a $1900 option. If I had known this I would have bought the technology option although I think this common item should be included in any navigation system. My $99 Garmin had it Our VW Golf Has it? The car is otherwise a BMW all the way that's is why I would like them to have this in their navigation system."

8 people out of 11 found this review helpful

Love the car. Picked it up at factory in Scarolina

By on Saturday, July 11, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "EVERYTHING."

Cons: "Pricey, it is a BMW and the rest aren't."

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

"Wish it took regular rather than Premium gas but, most luxury cars require it. The X3 can handle everything the road dishes out. Snow, ice, rain not a problem. Believe it or not, we took it over a obstacle course at the factory, bolders, running streams, hills, etc and it handles as well as a Jeep! Maybe better..We were surprised.. on a total sheet of ice driveway at my son's in NY,it went up a hill like it had claws."

9 people out of 14 found this review helpful

Perfect size for me. Best vdhicle I've owned.

By on Monday, June 15, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 38,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "practical, quick, comfortabe, economical."

Cons: "wish I would have bought the diesel."

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

"Very practical car. Fast enough. Big enough, but not too big. Fast enough and the mileage is better than expected. I had a Mercedes 500ML before this and this is soooo much better in every way without the ostentation."

15 people out of 26 found this review helpful

Automatic is not automatic

By on Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I owned and sold this car
Reason: Rubbed me wrong

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
6/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Sporting capabilities"

Cons: "Interior, so called auto features, terrible GPS"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3

"I really wanted to love this car, but I just never did. There were just a ton of things that rubbed me wrong. Those include: Doors that require 2 pulls to open, automatic wipers that have to be turned on every time you want them to operate, cruise control that needs to be turned on every time, and an interior that is just plain boring. When my seat heater went out in the dead of winter, it took them nearly 4 weeks to get the issue resolved. Lastly, this car has to have one of the worse GPS systems I have ever used. It never got me to the destination. The best thing about this car was it's performance, but you only get that in sports mode and you have to turn that on every time you start the car. Definitely a premium priced car with a poor customer experience."

12 people out of 20 found this review helpful

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