2008 BMW X3 Photo
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On Performance
On Performance
The 2008 BMW X3 brings typical German handling flair to its off-road-capable package.
8.0 out of 10
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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10

Expert Quotes:

Quick reflexes, brilliant steering, outstanding power delivery

Not really an off-pavement vehicle

top-notch road manners”

The 2008 BMW X3 offers a single performance profile that combines soft-roading with good on-road handling, according to reviews from around the Web.

The standard engine in the BMW X3 is a 3.0-liter inline-six engine that puts out 260 horsepower, says Edmunds. It also provides 225 pound-feet of torque. MSN Autos calls the engine “venerable” and says it puts out “more immediate engine response” with a series of upgrades. Cars.com calls it “potent, starting off with adequate power and coming on much stronger at higher revs.” Edmunds says “the spirited engine always has plenty of smooth thrust on hand.” Motor Trend reports the engine has strong low-end torque, “helping the 4100-pound X3 claim 0 to 60 in 6.9 seconds with the six-speed manual and 7.1 seconds with the no-cost optional six-speed STEPTRONIC automatic.”

BMW offers a choice of a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. The automatic met with complaints from one reviewer: Cars.com was disappointed with the automatic, noting it "repeatedly bogged down in lower gears, offering premature shifts before the engine could hit its stride." This made for "awkward starts" and sudden "bursts of unsolicited power," causing an uncomfortable ride in stop-and-go traffic. However, MSN Autos refers to the “responsive 6-speed automatic with an easily used manual-shift feature” and points out that it’s a no-cost option.

"Power is sent to all four wheels through an all-wheel-drive system" on this BMW 2008 model, says Edmunds. The new xDrive system is closely teamed with the X3’s traction and stability control as Motor Trend observes: “Quicker in response to traction issues, it also offers, for the first time in a BMW sport/ute, Dynamic Traction Control that allows the driver to choose a higher threshold of wheelslip before the electronics kick in.” MSN Autos simply says, “the all-wheel-drive system optimizes traction and enhances handling on slippery and dry roads.”

When it comes to fuel economy, the automatic BMW 2008 model gets 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. The manual version of the BMW X3 only gets 1 mpg less than the automatic, says Edmunds.

On a positive note, the "X3 readily swallows mile after mile of high-speed highway," says MyRide.com, adding, "It feels confident in the wet, and really shines on dusty, gravel-strewn back roads and slushy boulevards." MSN Autos reports “the nicely sized X3 has good maneuverability in tight parking situations and is among the sharpest-handling SUVs, with little body lean when snaking through curves.” Many reviewers found the X3’s steering somewhat heavy, but like Edmunds says, “the ultra-communicative and precise steering is simply the best.” Cars.com refers to the X3’s “top-notch road manners” and asserts it has “more road feel than many cars.”

The 2008 BMW X3’s "brakes are strong and resistant to fade," says Edmunds, while Cars.com finds “the X3's brakes are surefooted at their limits, though the pedal is on the grabby side.”


The 2008 BMW X3 brings typical German handling flair to its off-road-capable package.

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