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STYLING | 7 out of 10
Styling clearly says BMW
Freshened visual athleticism
Beginning to show its age
While the 2010 BMW X3 is attractive in an unadorned way, it's not the most handsome luxury compact crossover. Edmunds finds it has an "athletic personality" and Motor Trend says it has a "visual athleticism." It's simply beginning to show its age. While there's nothing wrong with the 2010 X3's exterior or interior styling, newer crossovers like the Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60, with their own curvy lines, make its clean, flat body panels and dash look dated. Cars.com agrees: "the styling clearly says BMW, but it's the multi-paneled look of earlier models and it's beginning to show its age," they observe. It doesn't help that the X3 shares many cues with the larger, more staid-looking BMW X5 and with the new, small 2011 BMW X1. What it lacks in distinction, the X3 makes up in balance: The side view is neat and tidy, there's little wrong on the rear end, and even the smallish grilles on the nose don't disrupt its look, which Autoblog and Motor Trend note was updated in the 2008 model year.
The BMW X3's cabin is likewise an uncomplicated, subdued environment. Its stark black dash frames big dials and is punctuated by small rectangular buttons, in an old idiom that's being revamped in the newer vehicles coming from the company. The X3 "masks its compact dimensions well," says Cars.com, and Edmunds deems the cabin of the X3 "well thought out and beautifully executed"-while noting "function takes priority over opulence." MyRide.com points out that "dark ash wood trim is now standard," but you can also get gray poplar or light natural poplar at no extra cost on the BMW X3.
The 2010 BMW X3 created the compact-luxury crossover mold-but Audi, Volvo, and others have broken it with smoother, more appealing shapes.