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2017
The Car Connection
2017
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
September 11, 2017

The 2018 BMW X3 leaves well enough alone in its latest redesign.

The third-generation BMW X3 has been revealed, and though there's big change in its pipeline, it's quite well hidden for now.

There's a tease in a new M Performance model, but the big news–plug-in hybrid and possible electric versions–won't come for another year or more.

BMW showed the new X3 at its plant in South Carolina, where it's been assembled since 2010. It goes on sale in the U.S. in November.

Review continues below

With the new X3, BMW doesn't shake the earth with radical design changes or size gains. On its third trip through BMW's redesign studios, the X3 adopts the same philosophy of the current X5: don't break it, just burnish it. The X3 has some wider air intakes, and the crossover SUV sits somewhat lower and wider on its wheels than in the last generation. The front wheels have been moved forward, further away from the dash, for better proportions, and the rear end's been scaled up visually with more glass and larger taillights. The effect grows more pronounced as it adds body trim and aero kits in its new performance editions.

Inside, the center stack of controls has grown wider, and now gets capped with a wide, high-definition display for infotainment services. The X3's iDrive control puck rides shotgun to its space-age shifter joystick, and the dash wears interesting brackets of metallic or wood trim.

Performance issues from a 2.0-liter turbo-4 in base models. It's good for 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. At launch, the X3 will have standard all-wheel drive, and all versions will send power out through an 8-speed automatic.

BMW hasn't watched the Benz GLC's march into AMG fleets and let it go unanswered. This year the X3 adds an M40i edition stuffed with the same turbo-6 that slots in some of its other performance models. Here it's tuned to 355 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. It's the first M badge to appear on the X3, but it's unclear if BMW intends to go all-in with an X3 M in the future. Does it need to? Judge for yourself. BMW says the X3 M40i hits 60 mph in 4.6 seconds.

BMW's dropped the X3 turbodiesel from its lineup, no surprise given the existential storm clouds hanging over all diesels today. A plug-in hybrid model is expected, and BMW has confirmed an electric X3 will debut in 2020.

As for other running gear, the X3's suspension pairs front struts and a five-link independent rear. Adaptive shocks will be offered on all models. 

In size, the X3 gains a couple of inches in wheelbase, but doesn't net out with much more interior space, whether it's leg room for front or rear passengers. An extra cubic foot of cargo space has been carved out of the extra length between the wheels.

The biggest news at launch will be the X3's newly available Level 2 autonomous driving hardware. BMW's flavor lets the car take over steering, braking, and acceleration for nearly a minute before it commands drivers to retake the wheel. The options list will include forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control, as well as a head-up display.

BMW hasn't published pricing or EPA fuel economy, but all will be revealed before the new X3 goes on sale in November.

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