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2013 BMW X3

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2013 BMW X3 Review

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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.

You'll Like This Car If...

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.

You May Not Like This Car If...

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.

What's New for 2013

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 the X3
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.

2013 BMW X3 Details
Interior

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.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

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.

Optional Equipment

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.

Under the Hood

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

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2013 BMW X3 Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.7
Out of 10

Based on 71 Ratings for the 2011 - 2017 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.3/10
    Quality
    9.0/10
  • Reliability
    8.9/10
    Performance
    9.3/10
  • Comfort
    8.7/10
    Styling
    8.8/10

Like my 2016 X3 35i more than my 2010 535i wagon

By on Saturday, June 18, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,800

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
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "A fun but practical vehicle"

Cons: "Next generation X3 arrives in 2018"

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

"The 35i engine is smooth, powerful and well matched to the 8-speed transmission. I have averaged almost 25 mpg during my first 2800 miles. Front seats are firm but comfortable on my long 10+ hour trips to visit family. The ride is nicely controlled despite the run flat tires. My wife much prefers the X3 brakes and handling over her previous crossover. The X3 is generally quiet at highway speeds with an authoritative rumble from the exhaust when accelerated. I like the higher seating position than that in my 535i wagon. Drive Assistant (DA) and DA+ packages are worthwhile additions for safety. Cargo space is nicely shaped to accommodate the dog crates we often carry. Back seat is good for 2, but tight for 3 adults."

3 people out of 3 found this review helpful

My X3 does not handle the way a BMW should.

By on Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000

10 2.0
overall rating 2 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
2/10
Value
Not Rated
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
Not Rated
Performance
Not Rated
Styling
Not Rated
Comfort
Not Rated

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

"With any type of strong wind, my X3 is all over the road. I need two hands to grip the steering wheel. What is it going to be like on snow and ice covered roads. I've owned BMW's before. This is a huge disappointment. It's comfortable and has all the bells and whistles, but the handling is horrible."

5 people out of 17 found this review helpful

Sporty, Comfortable, Quiet

By on Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000

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
8/10

Pros: "mileage, cost of fuel, build quality, sportiness"

Cons: "diesel rattles from standing start"

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

"I was tired of filling an Acura MDX over and over with premium fuel, so I looked around for a higher mileage SUV. I just happened on this car at a Chicago dealership, with only 1,700 miles. The diesel engine is powerful and with BMW's transmission, you can have all the acceleration you want. I especially love the mileage: 30 mpg on a 30 minute commute, even with the transmission in Sport mode, and 35 mpg on long trips. Add the cost of diesel fuel, usually the same as, or less than, regular, and it's a real winner. Yes, it costs a bit more than some others, but buy CPO and you save most of the initial depreciation. Be aware that it has more of a sport suspension than most and the diesel (like any diesel) sometimes rattles a bit from a standing start. I am very pleased with this X3 diesel."

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Highly Recommend

By on Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000

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: "Safe. Responsive. Luxurious. Fun to drive."

Cons: "Pricey fully loaded."

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

"Have owned BMW's for 20 years and the 2016 X3 does not disappoint! Safe, responsive, luxurious and fun to drive. What more could you want?! I test-drove all the SUVs in this class and found they just can't live up to BMW quality and performance."

10 people out of 17 found this review helpful

Love my X3

By on Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "All around comfortable, great handling vehicle!"

Cons: "No compass except on Navigation"

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

"By far the best aspect of this sport SUV is the comfort of ride and handling. I is hard to believe that prior user was not happy with the comfort of the seats. Precisely why we decided on this vehicle. Leaning to quickly and efficiently utilize the vehicle's features took some time, however well worth it. Technology is not always intuitive to the over 50 set. Only negative is the rattle of the casing enclosing the the moon roof. So far no solution. Annoying."

Horrible seats

By on Tuesday, March 8, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,500

10 1.0
overall rating 1 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "None"

Cons: "Bad design"

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

"I leased the 2016 X3 3.5 X drive for my wife. First issue is very poorly designed seats. Cannot sit in the car for more that 10 or 15 minutes due to the poor seat design. I am not an unusually sized person (6'2", 225 lbs). It was supposed to be our road car. Will now be used to transport dogs and cargo locally. Cannot wait for the lease to be up. In my 50+ years I have never sat in any model of car or truck with uncomfortable front seats. If you review the BMW blogs this has been an issue for some time with the X3. I have no need to learn the highly atypical technology of the vehicle. This is not a user friendly car. You can do a lot better for a lot less money. Thank God we are blessed to have two other vehicles to choose from. I would not recommend this car. If you would like to take over a lease on a high end X3 I have a car for you. I emailed the BMW "geniuses" about this issue and have received no response."

12 people out of 28 found this review helpful

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