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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
Allows the driver to choose a higher threshold of wheelslip before the electronics kick in
quick reflexes, brilliant steering, outstanding power delivery
top-notch road manners
With some reservations, reviewers are quite positive about the driving experience in the BMW X3.
Standard in the 2009 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. Cars.com calls the engine "potent, starting off with adequate power and coming on much stronger at higher revs," while Edmunds attests "the spirited engine always has plenty of smooth thrust on hand." MSN Autos calls the engine "venerable" and contends it issues "more immediate engine response" with a series of upgrades. 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 in the 2009 X3. MSN Autos praises the X3's "responsive six-speed automatic with an easily used manual-shift feature" and points out that it's a no-cost option. Cars.com, however, is 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.
When it comes to fuel economy, the automatic BMW 2009 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.
Handling in the 2009 BMW X3 is almost universally praised. A key feature in the 2009 X3 is the new xDrive system that is closely teamed with the X3's traction and stability control. 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." "Power is sent to all four wheels through an all-wheel-drive system" on this BMW 2009 model, says Edmunds.
Cars.com refers to the X3's "top-notch road manners" and asserts it has "more road feel than many cars." While some reviewers find the steering of the 2009 BMW X3 to be somewhat heavy, Edmunds declares, "the ultra-communicative and precise steering is simply the best." 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." Additionally, the "X3 readily swallows mile after mile of high-speed highway," says MyRide.com. The reviewer goes on to note that "it feels confident in the wet, and really shines on dusty, gravel-strewn back roads and slushy boulevards."
Cars.com finds that "the X3's brakes are surefooted at their limits, though the pedal is on the grabby side." Edmunds, meanwhile, proclaims that the 2009 BMW X3's "brakes are strong and resistant to fade."
The 2009 BMW X3 handles confidently and performs well.