Packaging is where the 2014 X3 makes a lot of sense. At about 183 inches long and 74 inches wide, with a wheelbase of 110.6 inches, it has a footprint that's at the large end of compact, among U.S. cars, while its added height gives it roominess and usefulness as an all-purpose family conveyance.
The X3 makes excellent use of that space. Its front seats are surrounded by plenty of leg and head room. The seats have a good range of adjustment, a proper height, and firm cushions. Take the optional sport seats if you can, for their thicker side bolsters and extending thigh cushions. They may feel firmer at first but will pay off with better long-distance support.
Second-row passengers have even more space--it's where the added length is most noticeable, and where the X3 takes the lead over vehicles like the Q5 and GLK Class. The back seats also benefit from toe room carved out from beneath the front seats.
With five-seater space, the X3 walls off a large 19-cubic-foot storage area in back. It expands to 56.6 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded down. The rear seats now all have a ski pass-through and 40:20:40 segments for better flexibility and seatback folding.
BMW has paid close mind to the X3's details. The cargo area wears rich carpet, beautifully engineered seatback releases, and sturdy metal cargo rails. Moving forward, all the materials on the tops of the doors are soft-touch, with really nice-looking grains, and the net effect is that the cabin has a hushed ambiance that soaks up noise from conversations inside the car and noise from the outside.
Ride quality is firm, and you do hear the mechanical sounds of the four-cylinder engine a bit at idle, but road and wind noise are mostly sealed out.