By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.7
BMW doesn't want you to mistake its X3 for an SUV. This 5-passenger compact utility vehicle is, according to the German automaker, an SAV, for "sports-activity vehicle." It's tempting to sneer at that marketing lingo, but one drive in the 2013 BMW X3 proves this isn't just hype. In a segment that has grown since the X3's introduction in 2004 with an onslaught of luxury rivals like the Mercedes-Benz GLK, Audi Q5, Acura RDX, Cadillac SRX and Infiniti EX, the X3 stands out with a dynamic nature that makes it feel more like a sports sedan than a cumbersome SUV. After a recent refresh, the 2013 X3 is more fuel-efficient thanks to a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that replaces the larger, thirstier 6-cylinder of past base models. For those who seek more power, a turbo 6-cylinder is still available.
If you're looking for a premium carryall that truly puts the "sport" in sport-utility vehicle, the 2013 X3 is hard to beat. With AWD standard, the X3 is also a good choice for drivers who need extra traction in inclement weather.
Aesthetically, the 2013 X3 isn't as viscerally exciting as some competitors. The iDrive command module and gearshift lever may confuse some drivers, and when optioned up the X3 can reach around $60,000. Here, even paint colors cost extra unless you're okay with non-metallic black or white.
2013 sees the introduction of a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that replaces the naturally aspirated (non-turbo) inline-6 in past xDrive28i models. Although this engine is smaller, it creates the same amount of horsepower and more torque than the former 6-cylinder engine, while attaining better fuel economy: up to 28 mpg on the highway.
Driving Impressions The first thing you notice about the 2013 BMW X3 when you press the accelerator pedal? It's fast. And that swiftness isn't just reserved for the more powerful engine. Even...the base 4-cylinder can propel this vehicle from 0-60 mph in the mid-6-second range. Step up to the more powerful 6-cylinder, put the transmission into the second of two "sport" modes, and you're looking at the same sprint taking place in the 5-second range, comparable to a sports car. In the real world, this translates to effortless on-ramp sprints and prodigious passing power. But speed and agility in corners aren't the only high points here. The X3 is also a comfortable, quiet vehicle that eases the rigors of long commutes. Purists may decry the lack of a manual-transmission option, but we take solace in the buttery smooth 8-speed automatic that's standard.
POWER AND EFFICIENCY
With the newly installed turbo 4-cylinder engine, those two traits are no longer mutually exclusive. This bulldog of a powerplant easily propels the AWD X3, yet the BMW still attains up to 28 mpg.
INTERIOR FIT AND FINISH
From the metallic, sliding cargo hooks in the hull to the available wood-grain trim up front, the 2013 X3 is one polished vehicle.
Clean interior design and today's technology are easy friends in the 2013 X3. Indeed, fine materials and lots of gee-whiz tech are in no shortage here, but keep in mind that they'll likely cost extra. That means if you want the Fineline Wave Wood trim, heated front seats or, yes, just leather instead of "Leatherette" upholstery, you'll have to check off the options boxes. If you're prepared for the extra costs, though, it's easy to appreciate the X3's comfortable amenities. Most functions work well, but the jet-fighter gear shifter and iDrive command module can still prove baffling. Rear legroom is adequate and the seat folds for added cargo space.Exterior
Rounded sheetmetal and athletic creases define the BMW X3's outer suit. A head-on view presents a rather sinister vehicle with BMW's familiar grille. The sides and rear of the 2013 X3 are more conservative yet still attractive thanks in no small part to deep side creases that stretch from the front wheel arches to the taillights. These lines give the X3 an athletic stance and visually split the car into parts, akin to what a good belt does with the right pair of slacks. In back are twin tailpipes tucked neatly beneath the lower-left bumper and minimal badging.
A base 2013 BMW X3 xDrive28i comes with AWD, 8-way power front seats, automatic climate control, power-operated tailgate, rain-sensing wipers, and 12-speaker/205-watt audio system with AM/FM/CD player with HD Radio and auxiliary input. The higher-trim xDrive35i model has a more powerful 6-cylinder engine, xenon headlights and panoramic moonroof. Like other new, 2013 BMWs, the X3 comes with complimentary maintenance for the first four years or 50,000 miles. Roadside assistance is offered for the first four years, with no mileage stipulation.
Options are aplenty when it comes to configuring a 2013 X3. But keep in mind that some features require packages that cost thousands of dollars. Among the add-ons available are leather seating, navigation system, heated front and rear seats, a 40/20/40 folding rear seat, heated steering wheel and lane-departure warning. For audio buffs, a 16-speaker, 600-watt sound system is available. Those seeking better performance can opt for packages that tighten the handling and employ larger wheels. Speaking of wheels, specialized BMW M 20-inch varieties are available, but can cost up to $6,000.
The base engine in a 2013 BMW X3 is a turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 240 horsepower – the same figure as the outgoing 6-cylinder. In the higher-trim xDrive35i is a 300-horsepower 6-cylinder. Both are connected to a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission (a manual transmission is not available), and offer all-wheel drive as standard. To conserve fuel, the 2013 X3 features automatic engine start/stop, which shuts down the engine when the vehicle is stopped and instantly restarts it when the driver's foot is lifted from the brake pedal. Premium gasoline is recommended for both engines.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
240 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 1,250-4,800
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/28 mpg
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6
300 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
300 lb-ft of torque @ 1,300-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 mpg
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of a 2013 BMW X3 starts just under $40,000 and can quickly escalate from there. Load up an X3 xDrive35i and you can easily hit $50,000 or – with big wheels –$60,000. The X3's base price is in line with the Lexus RX 350 and sits above the starting price of the Mercedes-Benz GLK, Audi Q5, Acura RDX, Infiniti EX35 and Volvo XC60. Be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are actually paying for the 2013 BMW X3. The X3's starting price is higher than most competitors, but so is its predicted resale value, sharing a lofty position with the Audi Q5 and Lexus RX.
By Johnny on Sunday, February 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,990overall rating 10 of 10rating details
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!"
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Steve on Friday, February 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
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."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Rob McMillan on Tuesday, January 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice Driving Car, Good Mileage"
Cons: "No Dipstick, unreliable oil measurement system"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I have the 4-cyl version of this vehicle with the EcoDrive feature that cuts the car off at the stop lights. Save gas and engine fumes. The AWD capability easily moves this car through snow and it climbs a steep snow covered driveway at my mountain cottage without snow chains. The car is fun and zippy to drive. It is also easy to park.....compared to the X5 I had before, the X3 is like a sports car compared to a truck. Unfortunately, I will never purchase another BMW....and had I known about this single shortcoming before purchase, I would have walked out of the dealership. BMW, in their infinite wisdom decided to save about $5 by eliminating the dip stick. Even worse, their electronic oil measuring system is unreliable. What self respecting car enthusiast wants a car in which you cannot measure the oil? I was on a long cross country trip when my car kept telling me to add quarts of oil. Had I not been suspect, I would have ruined the engine by overfilling the crankcase up to the valve cover. To this day, 1/11/2014, I still don't know how much oil is in my engine. No more BMW's for my family until they put the dipstick back."
5 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Boomer on Sunday, December 08, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice car to drive."
Cons: "Victim of technology and continuous battery drain."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Fun car to drive. I have a 2012 x35i (bought new) with just 16,000 miles so far. But it's cold in Minnesota, and I use the car for many short trips. Now i'm finding that, with the battery 'way out back in what amounts to an ice box, I get continuing messages to "Charge Battery" all the time. The dealer says this is normal and that the battery will not charge when it's ice cold. The solution: Put the car on a 10A battery charger every night if it's going to be below freezing. Huh?? Yes, raise the hood and connect a battery charger. So I do, while I'm shopping for another, more user friendly car. Also have had continuing problems with tire (Pirellis) rim leaks, with no help forthcoming from the dealer. So my morning routine now includes starting my garage compressor, pumping up one or two tires, disconnecting my battery charger, and closing the hood."
18 people out of 20 found this review helpful
By bill on Tuesday, November 12, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,200overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "mileage, quality,ride, and comfort"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"purchased 28i a month ago. We recently took on a trip and got 27mpg, better than rx400h we traded in. Was nervous about 4 cyl engine but it is very powerful. Quality is first rate.Got many options including navigation,xenons, and upgraded stereo. No regrets!"
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By P.C. on Saturday, October 12, 2013
I want this caroverall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, practical, great mpg, powerful,"
Cons: "expensive for a CUV"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Got the car in June 2013, and since we got it, this car is wonderful. We got the 35i and in ECO PRO mode, got 30 MPG highway! Quality is good on the car. Plenty fun to drive. Nav system works great. Oyster leather looks great with Black metallic exterior. This car is a pretty penny, and if your willing to spend the money, get the X3"