- 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 the German automaker's compact crossover SUV. It's assembled in South Carolina. It's a rival for vehicles like Land Rover LR2 and Acura RDX, as BMW's entry-level off-roader.
When the BMW X3 first hit the streets 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 quality standards 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-6 that puts out 260 hp. A 6-speed manual and all-wheel drive come standard; a 6-speed automatic is a no-cost option. The X3 has strong acceleration and is very responsive with either transmission, but it doesn't provide the sharp steering and balanced handling expected from BMW's cars. Ride and handling still take an SUV set, though the jittery, harsh ride has gotten more calm.
The interior of the BMW X3 is tight. Front-seat passengers sit on supportive, comfortable seats and have plenty of space, but adults in back may find their knees mashed up against the front seatbacks. The interior now offers adequate small-item storage, and interior styling is somewhat like that in BMW's 3-Series cars, graced by touches of wood.
The NHTSA hasn't tested the X3, but the IIHS calls it a Top Safety Pick. Rear-seat side airbags can be ordered.
Nifty features include heated front and back seats, a panoramic glass roof, automatic parking assistance, and Bluetooth.