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STYLING | 8 out of 10
the precursor's awkwardly tall proportions have morphed into a more confident, securely planted shape
appearing much more like a baby brother to the X5 than the old model ever did
oddly awkward front fascia, as if BMW's designers sculpted the new X3 and then realized they forgot to add headlights
a more athletic stance than before
Car and Driver
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--along with more visually in common with the larger X5. The combination of the pert, sport-wagon profile, the graceful, the swooping beltline crease, the tapered nose, and the chiseled lines next to the hood that actually serve to lower the beltline visually, together adds up to the opposite of a rugged-SUV look.Walking around, the key to the X3's high-class look, really, is that it's infused with more attention to detail and more attention to surfacing than before, without going overboard on functionless style. 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 been in a BMW vehicle in recent years will find the instrument panel familiar. The dash arcs to envelop controls and angles them at the driver, adding to the more sedan-like air surrounding the new SUV. But perhaps more importantly is that it's fitted completely with soft-touch surfaces; everything from the middle of the doors on up is soft to the touch and nicely grained.
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.
The 2014 X3 builds up from sport sedans rather than down from SUVs, with a pert profile and no sign of faux ruggedness.