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
By Jim on Thursday, October 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, runs like a scolded dog."
Cons: "no sunglass holder, no spare tire"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The car is a blast to drive. Handling is excellent, performance is near the top of the pack for this catagory, gas milage is good (average about 22 mpg). It sits high enough that my wife and I, in our 60's can get in and out easily. Outstanding transmission. Might replace the run flat tires with regular tires for improved ride, which is a bit on the firm side. Only criticism is the AC which could be a bit stronger. Plenty of back seat room and rear storage is good. Has the best headlights of any car I have ever owned; will burn the paint off stop signs. Not a car for someone who wants a posh ride like a Lexus or Cadillac, but made for the driving enthusists. We picked the car up at the factory in South Carolina and the factory gave us the VIP treatment, spending a day showing us the capabilities of the car. So far no problems with this car. Would buy it again!"
8 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By EF on Wednesday, September 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,600overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Quick, Fuel efficient, and comfortable"
Cons: "None so far"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Traded in a 2013 Ford Edge Ecoboost for the 2015 X3, same horsepower numbers, entirely different driving experience. Ordered the vehicle from my local BMW dealer and got it exactly the way I wanted (M Sport package, Premium package, Nav system, driver's assistance package, Harmon Kardon audio), had to wait almost 3 months, due to ordering right when the 2015 became available. First impressions are very good, have had the vehicle for slightly over 3 months. Handling is great for a near mid-size SUV, it corners like a 3 series sedan. Acceleration is very good in Sport mode (acceptable in Comfort mode as well and it saves on fuel), no discernible turbo lag, the 4 cylinder is a great engine. Have taken it on a long family trip and returned an average of 25-28 mpg (this is with a full cargo hold of luggage). Cargo space was more that adequate for 3 people and their luggage (along with all the stuff a 4 year old drags with). The M Sport seats are worth their weight in gold, no fatigue even from 12 hour stints in the vehicle. This is my first luxury brand car (not my first German vehicle) and I am very pleased with it. Depending on how this vehicle holds up reliability wise, I may become a BMW buyer from here on out. (Side note: I am a female, but a car nerd, and horsepower and handling matter more to me than the amount of cup holders or vanity mirrors)."
17 people out of 23 found this review helpful
By Cynthia on Saturday, August 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 72,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "joy of driving, attractive design inside and out"
Cons: "gas mileage, repair costs"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I was lucky to find a low-mileage, used X3 with an odd configuration: no bells and whistles except just what I wanted: climate package and navigation, plus roof rails for my crossbars. That's all I wanted beyond the beautifully tuned 6-cylinder classic BMW engine and the 8-speed transmission that I think make this car special. I love driving this car, especially on winding, rural roads in the places in the northeast that I visit regularly. Aside from one major repair to a steering component, there have so far been no repairs -- just routine maintenance. I do think the extended service warranty to 100,000 miles, expensive as it is, may be worth it because, when a BMW starts getting older it gets much more expensive to take care of out of warranty. I'm lucky to own one of the last 6-cylinder xDrive28i cars. It should become a classic."
8 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By dqv2000 on Tuesday, August 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Diesel, MPG, Torque, M sport look, comfort."
Cons: "Auto start stop hesitate."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I owned a 2011 X3. I was in the market to traded in for a sporty car. I considered Fusion, Edge, Murano, VW CC, Touareg, Volvo S60, V60, XC60, Q5, GLK, and X5. I wanted to maximize Utility, Quality, Performance, and Efficiency out of my budget. In conclusion, I, again, choose 2015 X3, now with M sport look. Value: I traded in my 2011 X3 on June 2014 at 53.6% of original MSRP. I think that is not bad. Driving Dynamics: No doubt, every professional car reviewer agrees BMW has best overall driving dynamics. X3 is one good example of it. Reliability: I owned my first X3 for more than 3 years. I never paid any maintenance, fixing, etc.... Never have any problem. This is one big reason why I want BMW again. Interior : Thanks to the LCI treatment for 2015 model, I am sure BMW has the best interior material quality of the segment. Exterior: this is the part I love my car the most. I have been dreaming to get a M sport Package BMW for years. Finally, I drive one now. Quality: Some said GLK has best built quality of segment. I said X3 is not any worse than GLK. Comfort & Convenience: X3 has best cargo space of the segment, so I don't need to put further explanation. My wife love the comfortable sport seat and minimal wind noise. At 80 MPH, the wind noise is still very low. In conclusion, how to define a car of your dream? I think it is that every morning you get ready to work. You go to garage about to drive. You see your car and you feel this is going to be a wonderful day. That is how I feel. By the way, thanks to its diesel engine, I average 32.3 MPG on my entire 2500 miles. I am very happy at this result."
19 people out of 23 found this review helpful
By LWD01915 on Tuesday, July 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "smooth drive; good mileage; powerful engine"
Cons: "not worth the value."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"My husband bought me the 2014 X3 in June of 2013 to replace my X5 which is one of the only advantages of the X3. It's a lot smaller than the X5 which I always felt as if I was driving a massive truck. The size of the X3 is much more reasonable. Clearly this car is not for me. I'm a stay-at-home mother and I put a whopping 6k miles on it in 14 months. Unlike my husband, who loves and appreciates high-end, expensive German cars, I just don't. Maybe it's a "guy" think but I just feel it's a LOT of money to spend, especially when I don't need a car of this caliber for my personal driving habits/needs. But I kind of question who really does. I know I sound ungrateful but it's just too much for me and I often feel uncomfortable in certain situations with having the BMW logo on it. To me, it can give off an air of entitlement and that might be my issue but I think the opposite can be true. Some buy this car and spend the amount of money precisely because it has the BMW logo. OK, about the car. It i IS a comfortable drive and got me through a pretty bad winter with a ton of blizzards and I never got stuck or had any problem driving up our VERY steep and long driveway or skidding, etc. so it's a safe care! I'll give it that! And it gets MUCH better gas mileage than my old X5 (but it is a lot smaller). But the number of "features" are overwhelming and made "worse" by having many accessible from both the steering wheel AND on other buttons on the dashboard, middle console, etc. The number of unncessary features along with this duplication makes me feel as if I am flying some large commercial airplane. I'm sure there are some features I'm not even aware of but one example of a "not-at-all" needed in my mind is the blinker options. You want to change lanes and you somehow "know" that you only need three "blinks" to signal the driver into whose lane you are entering? You can use the standard blinker and just flip it off when you've changed lanes BUT you can also push a small button on the steering wheel that will automatically turn off the blinker after 3 blinks AND that same feature is also on the dashboard. Honestly? It just results in a car which has a massive amount of buttons that I just can't imagine most drivers using. I feel it's more of a way to justify the expense than adding any benefit. But I'm just a Girl so what do I know? I do know that a week after I got it in June of 2013 and had 300 miles on it, a 19-year-old hit me with his old pickup in a parking lot on the passenger side of the car (don't ask why he drove perpendicularly into me). He wasn't traveling at a high speed at all so his truck didn't have a scratch but the body design of the X3 sides is one long, continuous piece from the very front to the back so the entire side of the car had to be replaced. And since I had picked a new color that was never offered before and since I had also gotten the very first shipment, there was a delay in getting the paint so my car was in the body shop for 3 weeks. I'll stop. You realize you are reading a review from a middle-age woman who considers a car more of a commodity and doesn't appreciate what some might. We own the car so I'll keep it maybe for one more winter and then I'm trading it in and choosing what I feel I need and I bet I MAKE money off the whole deal."
15 people out of 53 found this review helpful
By Rolling980 on Monday, June 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great Vehicle with excellent storage space"
Cons: "second seat don't recline. my only complaint"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This vehicle is amazing. I like the fact that I was able to custom order my vehicle at no additional cost. I had to wait a month before it was delivered but it was worth it. I opted for the xdrive 35i over the 28 and I'm glad I did. This thing screams. It has on the move drive modes so I can switch between comfort and sport which I believe engages the turbo. It also changes the shift ranges of the transmission. My daily driver is a 2007 Infiniti M45. When I compare driving pleasures, I think that the X3 without question is faster on take off because you can feel the all wheel drive of the X3 pulling but the V8 of the M45 pens you to the seat. Both have the ability for burnouts. That is both from standstill and roll.But I think the M45 would take the X3 in a head to head. I also opted for the painted trim. Money if you ask me well spent."
9 people out of 15 found this review helpful