If you’ve written off earlier BMW X3 crossovers (built before the 2011 model year) as too harsh, too plain inside or even too bland, we’d encourage you to take another look at the 2013 BMW X3. We may not have been fans of the previous model, but the latest version of BMW’s compact crossover seems to hit all the right buttons.
Everything about the X3 has been improved, from its refined exterior styling through its greater interior volume, improved ride quality and added performance. Fuel economy is up over the previous generation as well, just in case you needed one more reason to rethink the BMW. We’d even say that those accustomed to sedans won’t feel out of place behind the X3’s steering wheel, praise we couldn’t have given the previous generation model.
Outside, the new X3’s styling is far more elegant than it was before, and the crossover (thankfully) doesn’t come across as a ruggedized hatchback. While some BMW models of the recent past added design elements like sprinkles on an ice cream cone, the X3 keeps things blissfully simple in terms of style. The result is a crossover that will look as good parked in the driveway in 2023 as it does in 2013, and that same “less is more” design theme carries over to the inside, too. The cabin is meant to be a calming place, wrapped in soft-touch materials colored in soothing tones and shapes. You get the idea that BMW really spent some time reworking the X3’s interior, and we’d say it’s paid dividends.
Under the hood, the X3 gets the buyer’s choice of a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (in xDrive28i models) or a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine (in xDrive35i models), both of which send power to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Opt for the smaller engine, and you’ll still get 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, which is good enough to get the X3 from 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds. It will also deliver an EPA-estimated 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, which is a gain of 2 mpg city and 3 mpg highway over the previous model’s in-line six-cylinder engine.
If you need a faster crossover, opting for the 3.0-liter turbocharged six will get you 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, which is enough to shave a full second off the run from 0-60 mph. The penalty is, of course, fuel economy, which drops to 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. Either model also comes with a “Driving Dynamics Control” to fine-tune throttle response and shifting for maximum performance, maximum ride comfort or maximum fuel economy.
Though the 2013 BMW X3 is still officially a compact crossover, it’s grown in size to approach the first generation X5. The upside is that there’s more passenger room and more cargo room than on previous models, and nowhere is this more apparent than with rear-seat leg room. Given the crossover’s conventional shape, there’s plenty of head room for front and rear passengers, too, as well as generous cargo capacity. in fact, if you routinely haul more cargo than second row passengers, BMW even has an optional rear seat to allow more flexibility.
The standard features list includes things like the Driving Dynamics Control, a power liftgate, power front seats, automatic climate control, Bluetooth phone integration and BMW’s iDrive controller. Major options include things like a navigation system with an 8.8-inch LCD screen, a heads-up display, a panoramic sunroof, Park Distance Control and Lane Departure Warning. As with most German brands, the price climbs quickly as the options are piled on; though the xDrive28i starts at under $40,000, checking too many option boxes can easily result is a sticker price above $55,000.
For more, see our full review of the 2013 BMW X3 at The Car Connection.