- Strong acceleration
- Interior styling
- Available manual transmission
- Standard all-wheel drive
- Panoramic sunroof
- Tight backseat
- Choppy styling outside
- Doesn’t handle like BMW’s cars
The 2009 BMW X3 is a more rugged alternative to a sport wagon—but it’s not nearly as much fun to drive.
The 2009 BMW X3 is a compact crossover vehicle built in South Carolina, and it takes on the likes of the Acura RDX and the Land Rover LR2 as BMW's entry-level off-roader. The 2009 X3 is a four-door with a wagon back, a taller ride height, and all-wheel drive.
When the BMW X3 originally went on sale in 2004, it had a harsh ride and wasn’t as refined as BMW’s cars; also, it simply didn't live up to the standards of quality we’d come to associate with the German automaker. Today, however, the 2009 BMW X3 far outperforms that original effort, but it’s not completely well conceived.
The X3 is powered by a 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. The X3 has strong acceleration and is very responsive with either gearbox, but it doesn’t provide the sharp steering and balanced handling expected from BMW’s cars. Handling and ride are still biased toward the SUV end of the spectrum, though the harsh, jittery ride has been toned down.
The interior of the BMW X3 is tight. Front-seat occupants get comfortable, supportive seats and plenty of space, but adults in the backseat will likely find their knees mashed up. The interior now offers adequate storage spaces for smaller items, and interior styling is somewhat like that in BMW's own 3-Series cars, with a bit of wood trim on the panels.
Second-row, side impact airbags are available optionally. 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. Front side and side-curtain airbags are standard, along with electronic stability control.
Nifty features include a panorama-style roof, heated front and second-row seats, available heated steering wheel (cold weather package), park assist, and Bluetooth wireless technology.