Beneficiary of a mid-cycle revamping, the 2015 BMW X3 Sports Activity Vehicle rolls into the new season with a fresher look and a host of meaningful upgrades that include its first ever rear-wheel drive variant and an econo-enhancing turbodiesel engine option. Those changes promise to make this already popular player an even more formidable force versus key rivals like the Audi Q5, Land Rover Range Rover Evoque and Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class.

Also: More first looks from the 2014 Chicago Auto Show 

Focused on its nose and tail, the X3's visual remake reportedly previews cues that will appear on subsequent BMW X-models. Up front, its redrawn fascia features a new lamp configuration that extends all the way to the bolder, brighter twin-kidney grille and the twin-circular standard headlamps can be upgraded to full LED units for 2015. Changes are more subtle at the rear, and largely confined to the lower valence area. The X3's side mirrors also get redone and add integrated LED directional signals while four new alloy wheel designs and four new colors complete the exterior recasting. Those seeking a bit more edge for their X3 also can opt for an M Sport or xLine trim package. 

Also: See the 2014 Small Luxury Sport Sedans

Two new models join the X3 family for 2015. Aimed primarily at the Sunbelt set, the rear-drive X3 sDrive28i shares the same 240-horsepower 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder engine as the all-wheel drive X3 xDrive28i, but opens $1,400 below that model's $40,725 base sticker. Responding to customer demands for an even more fuel-efficient variation, BMW also is introducing the X3 xDrive28d. 

Fitted with the 180-horse/2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo diesel found in the BMW 328d, the X3 xDrive28d is set to open at $42,825. While down 60 ponies to its gasoline-fired alternative, the force-fed diesel in this newcomer holds a 20 lb-ft edge in the critical torque department -- and has the proven frugality to possibly earn the new xDrive28d a 40-mpg rating on the EPA highway cycle. Topping the range is the BMW X3 xDrive335i, which starts at $45,825 and retains its existing 300-horsepower/3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline-6. Regardless of engine or driveline configuration, all 2015 X3 models come with an 8-speed automatic transmission. 

Also: 2014 Compact SUVs at a glance 

Although largely carryover, the cabin of the 2015 X3 does offer several new color and trim alternatives, a restyled climate control panel,  improved cupholders and the latest iDrive controller with a 6.5-inch display and touchpad functionality to help make better use of its BMW ConnectedDrive features. Other items on the 2015 X3's standard/available roster include an upgraded navigation system and hands-free "Smart Opener" power liftgate as well as Lane Departure Warning, Frontal Collision Warning, Pedestrian Warning, City Collision Mitigation, Parking Assistant and BMW ConnectedDrive Services & Apps.

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