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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
8.8
Out of 10

Based on 65 Ratings for the 2011 - 2016 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.4/10
    Quality
    9.1/10
  • Reliability
    9.0/10
    Performance
    9.2/10
  • Comfort
    8.9/10
    Styling
    8.9/10

Very Good Condition

By on Monday, January 25, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 79,800

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Very good vehicle in very good shape."

Cons: "High miles"

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

"Vehicle has a clean record of no traffic collisions, no body damage,, no fluid leaks, and new tires, brakes and drive belt at 70,000 miles. Completed regular maintenance as required. Runs great and looks fantastic. Single driver. No pets and no kids."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

20,000 miles & loving it!!!!!

By on Sunday, January 17, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,030

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "blast to drive, good mpg, SC built"

Cons: "sunroof rattles, some quality issues"

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

"I love this suv. its truly amazing. it drives great, handles great & great gas mileage. very comfortable for long trips. the base stereo is awesome!! things in the car just operate with a certain grace. I love the way the buttons feel and the way the door souds when it shuts. on the down side my x3 baby has been to the dealer a couple times for warrenty issues, deformation of a trim piece drivers upper door, sunroof rattles, rearview camera stopped working. those issues were all fixed except the sunroof still makes a rattle noise every now and then. all in all this is a truly great suv and I love it to pieces. I would have no problem recommending this x3 to any one!!!!"

Surprised at how much I enjoy this car

By on Thursday, December 31, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Fun to drive, reliable, decent fuel economy"

Cons: "Price when adding options, interior color choices"

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

"I never thought I would get a crossover or SUV but some how I was talked into looking at them. So far I am pleasantly surprised at how well this car has turned out for me. It's not quite at three series like some say it is however the driving dynamics are not matched in this field my other competitors. The options add up quickly and if I had the options to pick again I would choose Xeon headlights and heated seats and forgo the navigation. Although with the navigation you get a top-down camera which works really well. I have not had any issues with this Carsons I owned it and if you're coming to me is a horrible however it's not as good as a sedan or economy car by any means. If you're in the market for A crossover you'll enjoy driving every day and won't beat you up I would definitely go for the x3. Maybe you'll be as pleasantly surprised as I was."

Very Concerned

By on Saturday, December 19, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 800

10 5.0
overall rating 5 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
5/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
1/10
Quality
1/10
Performance
6/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Comfort"

Cons: "Problems from day one!"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5

"Just purchased a new 2016 X3 xDrive28i. Less than 800 miles we get a drivetrain malfunction error. Can't drive over 20MPH and won't shift. Very disappointing to have such a serious issue with a brand new BMW. Traded out of a GMC Acadia that was just a service nightmare. Hopefully this is a one time thing but from what I have read, it seems to be relatively common. We shall see......"

6 people out of 7 found this review helpful

Great Performer, but Uncomfortable

By on Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
1/10
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
5/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
1/10
Comfort
1/10

Pros: "Perfected engine, transmission, suspension"

Cons: "Too much wind noise, very uncomfortable seats"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6

"Pros: 1.) The inline six is perfected and has way more power than is needed, while getting 28 MPG on mostly highway driving. 2.) The X3 handles and performs exceptionally. The transmission is perfect - it is always in the right gear. 3.) Very nice styling. Cons: 1.) The standard seats are very uncomfortable (no lumbar support on a $50K car?). For short trips it is fine, but after 45 minutes, it's better to rent a Kia. 2.) There is always a lot of wind noise in the car. 3.) HIDs are too bright and other cars are always flashing. 4.) No spare tire (so don't venture too far from civilization) BMW spend most of the engineering dollars perfecting the engine, transmission and suspension, but spent very little on interior comfort or air leaks."

26 people out of 38 found this review helpful

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..."

14 people out of 22 found this review helpful

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