By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 7.4
BMW calls the 2016 BMW X3 a "sports-activity vehicle," but maybe it should be "sports-activity-technology vehicle." With tightly integrated USB and Bluetooth now standard, the BMW X3 luxury SUV acts as a Mobile Office. Literally, that's what it's called, and it gives you the ability to check email, texts, calendar events and other office-type functions through BMW ConnectedDrive. The new BMW X3 is also one of the few vehicles out there that can accommodate two USB connections at once. None of this detracts from its dynamic driving nature that makes it feel more like one of the company's sports sedans, whether you're picking the fuel-thrifty X3 xDrive28d diesel, budget-oriented X3 sDrive28i rear-drive model or the all-wheel-drive X3 xDrive28i or X3 xDrive35i performance models.
The 2016 BMW X3 is aimed at those who want to accent the "sport" in their luxury sport-utility vehicle. The good news is that they're not giving up much on the "utility" end, thanks to the X3's generous cargo area and selection of engines ranging from thrifty to powerful.
If you're looking to stay inside a budget, the X3 may not be the best choice. Prices climb quickly as you add options, and pretty much every feature you want is going to be optional. Not everyone is a fan of BMW's odd gear selector, either.
KBB Expert Ratings
BMW expands Bluetooth functionality for the 2016 X3 by offering dual connections and integrating Mobile Office, which expands connectivity to include email, calendar, texts and other functions through BMW ConnectedDrive.
Whether you prefer the gasoline-powered 4-cylinder or 6-cylinder, the 2016 BMW X3 delivers surprising acceleration. Even the diesel-powered X3 xDrive28d gets up to highway speeds quickly, although it's not particularly...
... responsive if you need to pass, for example. Still, with the turbocharged 4-cylinder propelling the X3 from zero to 60 mph in the mid-6-second range, the 6-cylinder turbo doing it in about five seconds, and the diesel getting you there in a bit less than eight seconds, there's little to complain about. Sending all the power and torque to the drive wheels is an excellent 8-speed automatic transmission from ZF, and if you like taking your on- and offramps quickly, the X3's responsive handling and steering will keep you satisfied. Top it off with the fact the BMW X3 SUV is a quiet, comfortable and feature-laden luxury SUV, and you might look forward to your commute, instead of dreading it.
POWER AND EFFICIENCY
We're big diesel fans here, and we're glad to see BMW spreading its diesel powertrain options around its lineup. With good acceleration and excellent fuel economy, the X3 xDrive28d could give some hybrids a run for their money.
NEW NOSE AND TAIL
The 2016 BMW X3 remains one of the better-looking vehicles in its class. The headlight/taillight treatment was updated last year, and although it's a subtle change, it's effective in how it ties the overall look in with the sophisticated 3 Series sedan.
The interior of a 2016 BMW X3 can be as nice as your budget allows. Despite the implications of its luxury badge, things like wood trim, heated front seats, or even genuine leather instead of the standard Leatherette upholstery are all on the options list. The good news is that most of the interior upgrades can be bundled under the xLine or M Sport packages. Ergonomics is mostly sound, 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 expands by folding down the 2nd-row seatbacks.
This is a design that has grown on us over the past few years. With last year's revisions to the headlights and taillights, the BMW X3 looks closer to the BMW 3 Series sedan than a midsize SUV. This is a good thing, as it helps make the X3 one of the best-looking cars in its class. 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 big standard-equipment news for the 2016 BMW X3 is Mobile Office, part of the enhanced Bluetooth and USB connectivity. Other standard equipment includes automatic climate control, 8-way-power-adjustable front seats, burled-walnut trim, a power tailgate and rain-sensing windshield wipers. There's a 12-speaker/205-watt audio system with AM/FM/CD player, with HD Radio and auxiliary input. The xDrive28i adds all-wheel drive, while 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 are a ton of options available for the 2016 X3, and BMW has made getting some of these option packages a little less onerous than it used to be with a few strategic price cuts. For example, the Technology Package now costs $2,750 ($400 less) and adds a head-up display, real-time traffic info and a navigation system, and BMW apps. The Driver Assist Plus package adds blind-spot monitoring, side- and top-view cameras and other driver-assist features for $200 less than last year. But options still drive up the price quickly, with even red paint adding $550.
The standard engine in the rear-wheel-drive X3 sDrive28i and all-wheel-drive X3 xDrive28i is BMW's excellent turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 240 horsepower. Those seeking more horsepower and 5-second 0-60-mph times from their luxury-midsize SUV can opt for the all-wheel-drive, 300-horsepower turbocharged 6-cylinder in the X3 xDrive35i. On the other hand, if waiting between fill-ups is more important than how fast you get to the station, the diesel-powered X3 xDrive28d offers good power and fuel economy with its all-wheel drive. All feature a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission and 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 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/28 mpg
2.0-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4
180 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm
280 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-2,750 rpm
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 Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a 2016 BMW X3 sDrive28i is about $39,500; add about $2,000 to that if you want the all-wheel-drive X3 xDrive28i. If diesel efficiency is more important, the X3 xDrive28d starts at a bit more than $43,000. Finally, the top-line xDrive35i starts at about $47,300. Remember that these numbers are jumping-off points. Options drive up the price 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 KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area paid for their 2016 BMW X3. While that entry price may be high, you can expect the X3 to offer a good residual value over the years, similar to the Audi Q5 and Lexus RX.