All new for the 2011 model year
, BMW’s built-in-South-Carolina compact luxury crossover returns largely unchanged for 2012. We say that’s a good thing, considering how much effort BMW put into improving the current-generation X3, which is longer, wider, roomier and more dynamic than its predecessor.
There’s plenty of competition in the compact luxury crossover segment, but the X3’s distinctive styling, brisk acceleration, competent handling and roomy interior make it a stand-out. The BMW roundel on the hood and the improved fuel economy numbers merely serve as icing on the cake, as do the improved interior and well-sorted controls introduced in 2011.
The base engine is a 3.0-liter in-line six, good for 240 horsepower and capable of moving the X3 from 0 - 60 mph in under seven seconds. If that’s not fast enough for your liking, BMW also offers the X3 with a turbocharged 3.0-liter in-line six, good for 300 horsepower and a 0 - 60 mph time of 5.5 seconds. Both engines come mated only to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel-drive is standard on all X3 models.
BMW knows its buyers expect a certain feel, even on all-wheel drive models, so the X3’s drivetrain is biased to send the bulk of its power rearward under normal driving conditions. A four-wheel independent suspension delivers a pleasant mix of ride quality and handling, and BMW even offers a Dynamic Handling package for drivers who want the ultimate in both comfort and cornering.
The X3 has grown in size to nearly match the original X5, so buyers will enjoy more head room, more leg room and even more cargo room than in previous models. For the ultimate in cargo flexibility, BMW offers a version of the rear bench seat that flips and folds in several configurations.
The list of standard features has grown, too, and even base models now come with automatic climate control, eight-way power seats, an i-Pod and USB interface, Bluetooth phone integration and a 205-watt, 12-speaker audio system. If you want the full-on luxury treatment, the X3 can be ordered with leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, dual zone climate control, rear window sun shades, headlight washers and heated seats, broadening the X3’s appeal to a wide range of customers.
As with most luxury vehicles, the sticker price climbs quickly when you begin to add on option packages. While a base X3 xDrive 281 starts at just over $37,000, it’s easy to top $55,000, even on base models, if you load up on option packages.
For a detailed look at the 2012 BMW X3, see our complete review on The Car Connection