By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.6
BMW doesn't really want you to think of its X3 as an SUV. The German automaker calls its 5-passenger compact sport-utility vehicle a "sports-activity vehicle." You may sneer at the marketing-speak, but there is substance behind the 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. The 2014 X3 is also fuel-efficient thanks to the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine standard in the xDrive28i model. For those who want more power, a turbo 6-cylinder comes in the xDrive35i.
If you're looking for a premium carryall that truly puts the "sport" in sport-utility vehicle, the 2014 X3 is hard to beat. If you need extra traction in inclement weather, the X3 comes with all-wheel drive as standard.
Aesthetically, the 2014 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 approach $60,000. Even paint colors cost extra unless you're okay with non-metallic black or white.
After the introduction of the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine in the xDrive28i last year, there is little change in the line for 2014. The Technology Package now includes USB connectivity and Bluetooth with smartphone integration. The Navigation/iDrive system gets some further refinements. Some packages and availability are shuffled.
Driving Impressions Take off up the road in a 2014 BMW X3 and the first thing you'll notice is that it's quick. And it doesn't matter which model and engine you have....Even the base turbocharged 4-cylinder can propel the vehicle from 0-60 mph in the mid-6-second range. Step up to the more powerful turbo 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, quicker than many quite sporty sports cars. 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're happy with the standard, buttery smooth 8-speed automatic.
POWER AND EFFICIENCY
With the turbo 4-cylinder engine, performance and fuel economy are not mutually exclusive. This bulldog of a powerplant easily boots the X3 around, yet still attains 28 mpg on the highway.
INTERIOR FIT AND FINISH
From the metallic, sliding cargo hooks in the hold to the available wood-grain trim up front, the 2014 X3 is one polished vehicle.
Fine materials and lots of gee-whiz technology abound in the 2014 BMW X3, though some of it costs extra. So if you want the Fineline Wave Wood trim, heated front seats or, yes, just leather instead of "Leatherette" upholstery, you'll have to check options boxes. As long as you're prepared for the extra charges, though, it's easy to appreciate the X3's comfortable amenities. Most functions work well, though the jet-fighter gear shifter and iDrive command module can still prove a little confusing. Rear legroom is adequate and the seat easily folds to increase cargo space.Exterior
Smoothly contoured sheet metal and aggressive creases define the BMW X3's appearance. In a head-on view it can look pretty sinister, with BMW's trademark twin-kidney grille. The sides and rear of the 2014 X3 are more conservative yet still attractive thanks in part to deep side creases that run from the front wheel arches all the way back to the taillights. These lines plus the overall proportions give the X3 an athletic stance that nicely mirrors its dynamic capabilities. In back are twin tailpipes tucked neatly beneath the lower-left bumper and nicely subtle badging.
A base 2014 BMW X3 xDrive28i comes with AWD, 8-way power front seats, automatic climate control, power-operated tailgate, rain-sensing wipers, and a 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 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 limitation.
When it comes to configuring a 2014 BMW X3, the options and choices are plentiful. But purchase price rises fast, especially since some features come in packages that cost thousands of dollars. Among the add-ons available are leather seating, navigation, 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. Driver's wanting even better performance can opt for packages that tighten the handling and employ larger wheels, most notably the $1,400 Dynamic Handling Package and the $3,000 M Sport Package.
The engine in a 2014 BMW X3 xDrive28i is a turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 240 horsepower – the same figure as the 6-cylinder it replaced last year but with more torque and better efficiency. In the higher-trim xDrive35i is a 300-horsepower turbocharged 6-cylinder. Both are connected to a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission and offer all-wheel drive as standard. To stretch fuel efficiency, the 2014 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 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
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 2014 BMW X3 xDrive28i starts at just over $40,000 and can quickly escalate from there. An X3 xDrive35i starts at around $45,600 and can easily top $56,000. The X3's base price is in line with the Lexus RX 350 and a little 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 2014 BMW X3. The X3's price tag is higher than that of many competitors, but its expected resale value will also be strong, 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!"
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."
17 people out of 19 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"