The BMW X3 continues, in its current generation, to go stray away from the rugged, outdoorsy look--instead following one that's more like a tall sport wagon.
With its last complete redesign in 2011, BMW gave this model more length, width, and physical presence, and capped it with cues that resemble the bigger X5. The pert sport-wagon profile wears a swooping crease at the beltline, a tapered nose, and chiseled lines around its hood for a lower, leaner look than more traditional SUVs muster.
The X3's high style depends on carefully executed details and surfaces. The twin-kidney grille looks just as purposeful here as in the sedans, while the tail is capped with small, LED-lit taillamps shaped like those on a 5-Series or 3-Series sedan.
Anyone who's driven a BMW recently will find the dash familiar. It arcs around the controls and cants them toward the driver. It's finished almost entirely in soft-touch surfaces, too. From the middle of the door panels up to the glass, the X3's cabin feels soft to the touch and looks well-finished, not glossy or hard.
The way it all comes together is not just calming, but de-cluttered an at ease with its mission. Audio and climate controls are simplified, with the off-centered iDrive controller and large, wide LCD screen further improved this year with version 4.2.