An all-new 2018 BMW X3 is slated to bow this fall based on a new platform that’s lighter and offers a more powerful M-branded variant for the first time. The all-wheel-drive Sport Activity Vehicle will come in two trims, the X3 xDrive 30i and the X3 M40i. The revamped compact crossover is based on BMW’s flexible CLAR architecture, which was first developed for the range-topping 7 Series sedan.

The redesigned X3 competes in a crowded segment against rivals including the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Lexus NX, Infiniti QX50, Cadillac XT5 and Lincoln MKC. It is being built at BMW’s Spartanburg, S.C., assembly plant. Read our First Review for more details.

The bolder styling features a larger twin-kidney grille, sharply defined character lines and a more aggressive front fascia with fog lights featuring a hexagonal design. The new X3 rides on a 112.8-inch wheelbase, up 2 inches over the previous model. The longer wheelbase and short overhangs contribute to the vehicle’s 50:50 weight distribution, according to BMW.

Two engines, one transmission

The 2018 X3 xDrive 30i is powered by a 2.0-liter twin turbocharged 4-cylinder engine rated at 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The sportier X3 M40i boasts a 3.0-liter twin turbo inline 6-cylinder engine producing 355 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Both engines use an 8-speed automatic transmission to deliver power to all four corners. BMW estimates that the xDrive 30i accelerates to 60 mph in 6.0 seconds, while the M40i gets to 60 in just 4.6 seconds.

Another notable first for the BMW X3 is that it will have the first ever factory-installed trailer hitch in the automaker’s SUV lineup. The new 2-inch receiver is designed to accommodate a wide range of BMW accessories including a traditional towing ball and tongue extensions, as well as a step to access optional roof racks. Both models have a tow rating of 4,400 pounds.

Major equipment

The standard xLine design on base models includes trim elements in satin aluminum and silver matte, 18-inch alloy wheels and all-season run flat tires. Inside, sport seats include power adjustable side bolsters, tri-zone automatic climate control and a 40/20/40 split folding rear seat. The X3 has 28.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row, which expands to 62.7 cubic feet when the rear bench is folded down. On the xDrive 30i, options include a panoramic sunroof that is 9.8-inches longer than the standard opening, larger wheels and tires, and a luxury package that features chrome accents and an upholstered dashboard.

The xDrive 30i can also be equipped with an M Sport package that includes additional exterior aerodynamic elements, larger 19-inch wheels (with 20-inch wheels an available upgrade), M Sport leather steering wheel and M door-sill badging.

M40i features

In addition to the more powerful engine, the 2018 BMW X3 M40i benefits from a launch control feature on its 8-speed paddle-shift Steptronic transmission, and the all-wheel drive system has a more pronounced rear-drive bias. The cabin is equipped with sport seats and M40i logos on the door sills and instrument panel.

M40i models are distinguished by their M Aerodynamic kit, with elements finished in Cerium Grey Metallic. The exhaust system sports black chrome tips and has a flap that opens to provide a more pronounced exhaust note when the vehicle is in sport mode.  The steering and suspension are retuned to match the vehicle’s higher performance. The M40i has standard 19-inch wheels and tires, with larger 20- and 21-inch packages as options. Also available is an Adaptive M Sport suspension.

BMW’s full suite of driver assists is available on the 2018 X3, including active cruise control, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning, frontal collision warning with city collision mitigation, cross traffic alert and active lane keeping. Pricing will be announced closer to the on sale date.

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