Playing it too safe?
WE LIKE Road manners, improved iDrive
WE DON’T LIKE Single USB port, fee for Apple CarPlay
This third-generation X3 moves to the CLAR architecture for a better ride, more tech, and its first M variant, setting it up to be BMW’s best-selling SUV.
The 2018 X3 is almost the size of the original X5 and gains some maturity, being quieter and more composed. The 248-hp 2.0-liter turbo I-4 provides adequate power with smooth shifting from the eight-speed automatic. Kim Reynolds liked the brakes and well-composed chassis, with good ride quality and handling, but its responsive steering was almost too quick for our lane-change test. Off-road, it powered through the slush and washboard, and it has an excellent programmable hill-descent cruise control.
The two-tone interior with nice wood touches does not feel seismically different from the outgoing model. Seats are attractive but still firm. The iDrive system has become more usable, though its gesture control commands remain undercooked. Judges found it inexcusable that there’s only one USB port in front and none in the rear. And Christian Seabaugh called BMW “greedy” for charging a subscription fee for Apple CarPlay and thus encouraging drivers to engage in the less safe practice of handling their phones.
Although some felt the X3 helps restore BMW to some of its former glory, others thought the automaker short-armed the fresh sheet of paper it was given. “If you didn’t tell me, I’d easily believe it’s a midcycle refresh, not all-new,” Scott Evans said. “Other than infotainment software and digital gauges, it all seems pretty much the same.”
The X3 plays in a segment prone to radical change (see: Volvo XC40), and although some admire consistency over time, BMW might have played it too safe.
READ ABOUT 2019 SUV OF THE YEAR CONTENDERS:
|2018 BMW X3 xDrive30i|
|Base Price/As tested||$43,995/$57,120|
|Power (SAE net)||248 hp @ 5,200 rpm|
|Torque (SAE net)||258 lb-ft @ 1,450 rpm|
|Accel, 0-60 mph||6.7 sec|
|Quarter-mile||15.1 sec @ 91.5 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||127 ft|
|Lateral Acceleration||0.81 g (avg)|
|MT Figure Eight||27.6 sec @ 0.63 g (avg)|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb||22/29/25 mpg|
|Vehicle Layout||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|Engine/Transmission||2.0L turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4 /8-speed automatic|
|Curb Weight (F/R Dist)||4,268 lb (49/51%)|
|Length x Width x Height||185.9 x 74.4 x 66.0 in|
|Energy Cons, City/Hwy||153/116 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 Emissions, Comb||0.79 lb/mile|