By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 7.3
Slotting between the X1 and X5, the 2017 BMW X3 is the German luxury brand's compact sport utility vehicle or, as Bimmer likes to call it, "sports activity vehicle." That is apt, as the X3 prioritizes dynamics over ruggedness. The 2017 X3 remains one of the most fun-to-drive crossover SUVs available. Being a BMW, the X3 also offers a long list of the premium amenities, though options easily swell the X3's nearly $40,000 starting price. Along with turbocharged 4- and 6-cylinder gasoline engines, the X3 stands out with an efficient yet powerful diesel option. The X3 remains a solid choice in the entry-level small luxury SUV space, but newer rivals like the Mercedes-Benz GLC and Jaguar F-Pace are equally if not more appealing.
If you want a smaller luxury SUV that's sporty yet practical and, perhaps most importantly, carries serious brand envy, the BMW X3 checks all the right boxes. If you want a powerful yet fuel-efficient diesel SUV, the X3 xDrive28d has a fine balance of both.
KBB Expert Ratings
Only minor updates are in store for the 2017 BMW X3 luxury SUV. They include optional wireless charging for select smartphones, a Wi-Fi hotspot and a new version of BMW's iDrive infotainment/audio control. Top-line xDrive35i models get keyless entry and lumbar support as standard.
Whether you prefer the gasoline-powered 4-cylinder or 6-cylinder, the BMW X3 delivers swift acceleration. Even the diesel-powered X3 xDrive28d gets up to highway speeds quickly, although it's not particularly responsive...
... if you need to pass. 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 in a bit less than eight seconds, there's little to complain about. Sending the power to the rear or all wheels is an excellent 8-speed automatic transmission from ZF. If you like taking on- and offramps quickly or being zealous on a twisty road, the X3's responsive handling and steering will keep you satisfied, especially in Sport mode. Then add that 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
Despite the bad press that diesel has been getting in the wake of VW's scandal, we needn't toss the baby with the bathwater. The diesel X3 remains a solid choice for buyers seeking high fuel efficiency without sacrificing performance.
DRIVER ASSISTANCE PLUS
This optional package includes safety and driving aids like blind-spot monitoring, surround-view camera and Active Driving Assistant, which can warn of an impending collision and even apply the brakes. For $1,700, it's money well spent.
The 2017 BMW X3 features a 2-row/5-passenger configuration, and the interior can be about as nice as your budget allows. Despite the implications of its luxury badge, heated front seats, a backup camera or even genuine leather instead of the standard SensaTec fake leather all cost extra. Fortunately, most of the interior upgrades can be bundled under the xLine or M Sport packages. Ergonomics are 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 easily thanks to the 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks.
The X3's design has matured over the years and, while its suit isn't as fresh as the newer competitors, it's still sharp. With recent revisions to the headlights and taillights, the BMW X3 looks closer to the BMW 3 Series sedan than a midsize SUV. 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. A power tailgate is standard, and a panoramic moonroof is optional. Standard power-folding mirrors and aluminum roof rails add practicality.
The 2017 X3 lineup starts with the sDrive28i, the only rear-drive model in the lineup. This base model includes power front seats, automatic climate control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a convenient power tailgate and universal garage door opener. Infotainment is brought to you by a 9-speaker/205-watt AM/FM/CD player with HD Radio, Bluetooth streaming and USB input. Unlike some rivals, BMW is behind in offering Apple CarPlay or Android Auto phone integration. The X3 is filled with passive and active safety features. 2017 model BMWs continue to offer complimentary maintenance, but it's been downgraded to 3 years/36,000 miles from 4 years/50,000 miles.
Many of the 2017 X3's extras are bundled into packages, starting with your choice of M Sport or xLine. The first adds sporty bits like an aerodynamic kit and sport seats, while the latter has classy satin exterior brightwork and a unique steering wheel. Heated seats and steering wheel, navigation, BMW Apps and Wi-Fi hotspot are also offered in packages. Surprisingly, a rearview camera costs extra, as does any exterior color that isn't non-metallic black or white. Other options include the Driver Assistant Plus package, active cruise control and, for audio buffs, a 600-watt harman/kardon premium sound system.
The standard X3 engine is BMW's highly responsive turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 240 horsepower. For more performance there’s 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 and all-wheel drive. All X3 SUVs feature a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission and 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. If you find restarts too abrupt, as we have, the feature can be disabled with a press of a button. Note that BMW X3 gasoline models require premium fuel.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
240 horsepower @ 5,000-6,500 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 1,450-4,800 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, est.: 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 2017 BMW X3 sDrive28i begins slightly under $40,000; add about $2,000 to that if you want the all-wheel-drive X3 xDrive28i. If diesel efficiency is more important, the X3 xDrive28d SUV will cost more initially, over $43,000. The top-line, 6-cylinder xDrive35i starts at near $49,000. Remember that these numbers are beginning points. Options drive up the price quickly, and a fully-loaded xDrive35i can crest $60,000. The X3's base price is in line with the Mercedes-Benz GLC, Audi Q5 and Jaguar F-Pace, but higher than the Lexus NX, Acura RDX, Infiniti QX50, Lincoln MKC and Volvo XC60. It is lower, however, than the Porsche Macan. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area paid for the X3. The X3's resale value is expected to be good over the years, but still below that of the Porsche Macan.