By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 7.5
BMW calls the 2015 X3 SUV a "sports-activity vehicle." It's a bit of marketing-speak that'd be harder to swallow if there weren't a hint of truth to it. The 2015 BMW X3 continues to stand out against rivals like the Mercedes-Benz GLK, Acura RDX and Cadillac SRX, thanks to a dynamic driving nature that makes it feel more like one of the company's sport sedans than a big SUV. This year, BMW adds a diesel option with the X3 xDrive28d, further enhancing the line's fuel economy. On the other end, the 2015 BMW X3 sDrive28i is a new base model only available with rear-wheel drive, a first for the X3.
If you want your upscale SUV to accent "sport," then the 2015 BMW X3 may just be the ticket. Of course, with plenty of cargo space and a choice of two fuel-efficient engines, it's not short on utility, either.
Prices on the BMW X3 climb quickly as you add options. That $40,000 base price for the X3 sDrive28i can easily climb higher than $50,000 or more – even paint colors cost extra, unless you're happy with black or white. Not everyone is a fan of BMW's odd gear selector, either.
The 2015 BMW X3 gets a new 2.0-liter diesel engine, promising excellent fuel economy without sacrificing performance. A new base model offers rear-drive only for the first time, lowering the entry price for the X3. The X3 also gets a new grille and headlights, among other styling updates.
Driving Impressions Whether you're driving the 4-cylinder or 6-cylinder, the 2015 BMW X3 is a quick SUV. And while we haven't had a chance to sample the new diesel first-hand, the same...... engine in the BMW 3 Series has proven itself no slouch, and we expect the same here. The base turbocharged 4-cylinder propels the X3 from zero to 60 mph in the mid-6-second range. The 6-cylinder does the 0-60 run in about five seconds, and BMW promises the diesel will do it in less than eight seconds. Regardless, expect effortless onramp sprints and plenty of passing power. No matter which engine you choose, it comes with BMW's excellent 8-speed automatic transmission. On top of it all, the 2015 X3 SUV is a luxury car, meaning it's quiet, comfortable, and feature-laden to the point that you might actually look forward to your commute, instead of dreading it.
POWER AND EFFICIENCY
BMW's making a big play with its diesel engines, and we couldn't be happier. The same 2.0-liter diesel in the BMW 3 Series is a gem, with plenty of power and excellent fuel economy. It could make the 2015 X3 a fuel economy leader, and even give hybrids a run for their money.
NEW NOSE AND TAIL
The styling revisions made to the 2015 BMW X3 are subtle, but effective. We particularly like the compact SUV's new headlight design, which extends the lights all the way to the updated grille. It's a more sophisticated look, and it ties in with the current 3 Series sedan design as well.
The 2015 BMW X3 is awash in premium materials...if you're willing to pay extra. For example, if you want upscale wood trim, heated front seats, or even genuine leather instead of the standard "leatherette" upholstery, you'll find them all on the options list. You can bundle a lot of the interior upgrades under the xLine or M Sport packages. Ergonomics are mostly sound, that is, once you make your peace with the odd gear selector and BMW's iDrive system. There's good rear legroom, and the generous cargo space can be expanded by folding down the 2nd-row seatbacks.Exterior
The exterior improvements may not bowl you over, but they nicely update the 2015 BMW X3, and integrate the compact SUV better with BMW's current styling direction. While we particularly like the new nose, the rear end changes are more subtle, but help to tie the appearance in to the rest of the car nicely. For the most part though, the styling is carryover which again is fine with us. The brushed aluminum of the xLine makes the exterior look more luxurious, or you can give the X3 a more aggressive look with the M Sport's bigger wheels and aerodynamic package.
The base 2015 BMW X3 sDrive28i drops standard all-wheel drive for the first time to lower the entry price point. But you still get automatic climate control, 8-way power-adjustable front seats, burl walnut trim, a power tailgate, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. There's also a 12-speaker/205-watt audio system with AM/FM/CD player, with HD Radio and auxiliary input. The xDrive28i adds all-wheel drive to essentially the same package, and the xDrive28d adds diesel to that. The top-line xDrive35i model has a more powerful 6-cylinder engine, xenon headlights and panoramic moonroof. All BMW X3 models get complimentary maintenance for the first four years or 50,000 miles.
There's a lot of room to build your 2015 BMW X3 just the way you want it, as long as you have the cash. Many features come in packages costing thousands of dollars. For example, a handling package tightens up the suspension and adds sport steering for $1,400. A $3,250 premium package adds adjustable lumbar support, keyless entry and a panoramic moonroof. The Technology Package costs $3,150 and adds a head-up display, real-time traffic info and a navigation system, and BMW apps. Even red paint adds $550.
You now have three choices of powerplants under the hood of the 2015 BMW X3. In the rear-wheel-drive X3 sDrive28i or all-wheel-drive X3 xDrive28i, you'll enjoy a turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 240 horsepower. The top-level xDrive35i gets a 300-horsepower turbocharged 6-cylinder. New this year is the xDrive28d with its 2.0-liter diesel engine. All three come connected to a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission, and all but the sDrive28i come standard with all-wheel drive. The 2015 X3 also features automatic engine start/stop, which shuts down the SUV's engine when the vehicle is stopped and instantly restarts it when the driver's foot is lifted off the brake pedal.
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
2.0-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4
180 horsepower @ 4,000
280 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-2,750
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/34 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 2015 BMW X3 sDrive28i has a base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just over $39,000. If you want all-wheel drive, the 2015 xDrive28i starts at just under $41,000. The diesel-powered X3 will run you just under $43,000. The top-line xDrive35i starts right at $46,000. However, note that with options, any of these prices can escalate quickly, and it's not hard to option up an xDrive35i to be nearly $60,000. However, the base prices are in line with compact-SUV competition like 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 2015 BMW X3. While that entry price may be high, you can expect the X3 to hang onto a good chunk of its value over the years, similar to the Audi Q5 and Lexus RX.
By Sol on Wednesday, January 28, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "How the car handles itself at high speeds"
Cons: "Noisy at high speed"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have been driving this car for the last 3 months and I still get excited about it. I had an acura 2002 before that and this was a big step up for me. But what i am getting from this car far exceeds my expectations and I do not think I will ever drive any other brand going forward. This car's performance lives up to the Bimmer's hype."
11 people out of 20 found this review helpful
By Gary L on Sunday, January 04, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Performance, Build Quality, Features, Gas Mileage"
Cons: "Options Are Pricey... Choose Only What You Need"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This car is a huge step up from the GM, Ford, Cadillac and Subaru's that are the majority of SUV sales. The level of quality, performance and driving pleasure is outstanding. This is my first BMW so there was a learning curve with the I Drive, Navigation and other unique BMW features. Love the 12 speaker stereo, heated front seats with 3 settings, dual climate control, key-less start and full Navigation. This baby handles like a true sports car with acceleration & brakes putting it in a class of it's own. Great gas mileage and rock solid reliability earn it 5 stars. While pricey it comes with a solid 4 year warranty which includes all maintenance and free inspection. Beat that Lexus."
17 people out of 28 found this review helpful
By Bring on the snow on Tuesday, December 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Feels like a swiss vault when it shuts"
Cons: "Need better noise dampener at high speed"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Rock solid vehicle. It has amazing power and acceleration thanks to the silky smooth eight speed transmission. The car feels solid and stable around curvy rounds even going 90 mph, something I would never have done in my other vehicle and though I do not recommend this for others. However, I was very impressed how this vehicle navigated those sweepy curves. I also drove this vehicle on an interstate during a snow storm with the standard all season tires that came with it. It handled like a well trained athlete. I was the only car driving through the snow in the left lane. I am not sure that the vehicle was better than others but it certainly game me confidence that the vehicle could deal with the snow. I also love the look of the vehicle's exterior and interior. The aesthetics is understated elegance, not over the top. It does not call attention to itself other than through the blue and white Rondell. The discreet aesthetic is another reason why I like the BMW. If I could got rid of the Rondell or the indentifiers that announce that it is a BMW, I would love it even more because I drive this car not for its status but because of how solidly it drives and perform. The 48mos/50K miles warranty also comes in handy because repairing this Ultimate Driving Machine can be costly. I love this vehicle more than I enjoyed my 2007 328i."
26 people out of 36 found this review helpful