- Upgraded power
- Available manual transmission
- Revamped interior styling
- Standard all-wheel drive
- Panoramic sunroof
- Choppy styling
- Tight second-row seating
- Handling more SUV than crossover
The 2008 BMW X3 gets much-needed improvements to its ride and its interior, but it's still more rugged--though not as refined--as the Acura RDX.
The 2008 BMW X3 is a far cry from the original X3 that went on sale in 2004. BMW's first stab at a compact crossover felt harsh and unrefined, and its interior was far below the usual BMW standards of quality.
With the 2007 model year, BMW made major upgrades to the X3, and the changes are all for the better. For starters, BMW transplanted a new powertrain under its hood. The major infusion of power comes from a standard 3.0-liter, inline six-cylinder engine producing 260 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive are standard equipment, while a six-speed Steptronic automatic is available as a no-cost option. Handling and ride are still biased toward the SUV end of the spectrum, but the harsh, jittery ride has been toned down.
The interior of the 2008 BMW X3 carries the new style introduced in 2007. There's more storage, the plastics are of a higher quality than those in the first X3, and overall, the styling is more like BMW's own 3-Series cars, with a bit of wood trim on the panels. A little more cargo room has been allocated, but the BMW X3's interior is still a bit tight for adults, particularly in the second row.
New features include a panorama-style roof, heated front and second-row seats, available heated steering wheel (cold weather package), side impact and curtain airbags, stability and traction control, park assist, and Bluetooth wireless technology. Second-row, side impact airbags are available optionally. The NHTSA has not yet tested the new BMW X3, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives it "good" ratings for front and side impact protection and calls it a Top Safety Pick.