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- Good, sedan-style looks
- Very efficient interior space
- Great powertrain options
- Good results from major safety organizations
- Fun to drive
- Gets expensive in a hurry
- Start-stop should be smoother
- Rearview camera is buried in options
- Not exactly off-road material
- #12 in Mid-Size SUVs
The 2017 BMW X3 continues its run as one of the best compact luxury SUVs on the market—even in the face of much newer competition.
The 2017 BMW X3 is the automaker's four-door compact luxury SUV. It competes in a hyper-competitive segment crowded by the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, Audi Q5, Lincoln MKC, Lexus NX, Acura RDX, just to name a few.
Although it's expected that the X3 will be completely overhauled sometime next year, the current model is just two years removed from a facelift that helped the SUV age more gracefully and keep it among the leaders in its segment.
It earns a rating of 6.8 out of 10, based on good performance and features, less so for missing safety features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
BMW X3 styling and performance
The BMW X3 strikes the right chord for many luxury SUV shoppers. It's not surprising: the strong combination of style, practicality, and powertrain options combined with loads of available technology in a fun-to-drive package wouldn't turn away many buyers—the bottom line could make them blush a little, however.
The X3 keeps the same handsome proportions as when it first arrived in the U.S. Although the X3 isn't as bold as the X4, from which it shares running gear, that's not a bad thing. The X3 delivers on its visual promise of being a tall wagon for families who need more capability and comfort than a sedan.
Inside, the X3 is awash in handsome materials and thoughtful ergonomics. The X3 sports one of our favorite cockpits from BMW's lineup..
Under the hood, the X3 comes into its own. The base turbocharged inline-4 engine is impressive. Its 240 horsepower is enough to propel the car up to 60 mph in just over six seconds, and its mated to a smooth shifting 8-speed automatic. Rear-drive is available, but most X3s will be fitted with all-wheel drive, which BMW calls "xDrive."
Buyers can opt for a bigger, turbocharged inline-6 that produces 300 hp and borders on "performance" territory. The X3 xDrive35i speeds up to 60 mph in just over five seconds, and is paired exclusively to the same 8-speed and all-wheel drive. It's an enthusiastic ride, if not a little excessive. (We're still OK with that.)
Comfort, safety, and features
The X3 prioritizes versatility and its 27.6 cubic feet of cargo room is among the leaders in its class. Front seat passengers get the best seat in the house, rear seat passengers have a little less leg room than others in its class.
All told, the X3 is screwed together nicely: the tight-as-a-drum assembly and soft-touch materials are what we expect when we think of a luxury BMW.
The X3 has a good record for safety, albeit an incomplete one. Federal testers give the SUV five stars overall, and the independent IIHS has given it top "Good" scores in every crash test, except for the difficult small-overlap crash test, where it hasn't been rated at all.
The X3 is available with optional advanced safety features such as blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and frontal collision warning with automatic emergency braking, but unfortunately a rearview camera is optional as well.
As equipped, the X3 is on par with many others in its class, but like many BMW models, the options list can add up quickly. We suspect many buyers will opt for a cold weather package that adds front and rear heated seats, heated steering wheel, and headlight washers, which is a decent value at $950. We'd also suggest the $1,700 adjustable dampers that help soften the ride from its standard run-flat tires.
EPA ratings keep the 2017 BMW X3 competitive with others in its class; the most popular configuration has been rated at 21 mpg city, 28 highway, 24 combined. A lack of electrified powertrains keeps it from climbing higher on our "Green" scale, something we suspect will be remedied soon.