2011 BMW X3 Comfort & Quality

9.0
Comfort & Quality
With seating for five, the X3 also now has a large 19-cubic-foot rear storage area that swells to 56.6 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded down. On U.S. versions, the rear seats split 60:40, or optionally, in 40:20:40 segments for better flexibility. The cargo area itself is lovingly detailed, with rich carpet, some of the most refined seatback latches we've ever seen, and metal cargo rails with zero tolerance for poor fit.

Upsizing pays off inside the 2011 BMW X3. It's nearly 3.4 inches longer overall, 1.1 inches wider, sits 0.5 inches taller and has that same numeric increase in ground clearance. Much of the added length is made available in the rear seats, where the X3 has been mid-pack with other luxury utes like the Cadillac SRX, Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class. It's midpack no more: while the front passengers have copious head and leg room and swell chairs to ride in, the second-row passengers get it even better. There's soaring headroom all around, and behind the front seats, nice rectangular nacelles that might even fit a pair of size-13 feet. And those three-across riders in back also sit at nearly the same height as the front passengers—there's almost none of the theater-style seating nonsense that can give bigger utes a tippy feel.

Overall, the new 2011 X3 is so much more sophisticated in design and execution, especially inside, that it renders the prior X3 generations into early used-car oblivion. Who would want dark, hard, plasticky controls in a two-year-old, off-lease X3 when this version's innards are silky as pate?

With a comfortable, well-designed interior, superb detailing, and top-notch materials, the 2011 BMW X3 does everything the last-generation X3 didn't and is now a standout in the class.

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