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?