More carlike and more attractive, the new X3 is longer, wider, more impressive, and more closely related visually to other BMW vehicles than its predecessor, not to mention the larger X5.
The X3 cares not a whit for the blocky, rugged past of the SUV. Big, bold character lines cut down its doors like the curves on a 3-Series sedan. The nose drops low, and steers clear of the bluster that trips up compact crossovers trying to mimic "real SUV" cues. The tail is capped with small, LED-lit taillamps shaped like those on a 5-Series or 3-Series sedan. Functionless details hit the dumpster; this BMW pays more attention to surfaces and details.
Inside, the latest X3 sports a dash gently composed in arcs that encase the controls and bend them toward the driver. BMW has upgraded interior materials, and it's obvious. Tough plastics have gone soft, all around the cabin. A big LCD screen connects the X3 to the interface-driven present, and there's a head-up display on the options list that can project driving info on a discreet portion of the windshield. There's a calming influence at the controls in this X3. Whether it's the big, clear dials in the instrument pod, the simplified audio and climate switches, or even the off-centered iDrive controller, the X3's cabin seems more rested, de-cluttered, and at ease with its mission.