The new 2018 BMW X3 is here, and clear evidence that BMW’s crossovers and SUVs are serious products for the brand. The company’s sedans and coupes still demand a lot of attention, but it seems the German automaker is putting a lot of time and energy into its taller-standing vehicles. Most recently, BMW invested in the X3, reworking one of its best sellers. The automaker has sold more than 1.5 million X3s since 2003, so its safe to say it's hoping this vehicle will be a real winner. We had the chance to drive the 2018 BMW X3 at an event in Joliet, Illinois, to see how the new vehicle stacks up to the competition.

2018 BMW X3 xDrive30i front

The 2018 BMW X3 gets new engines, some new technology, and a fresh, reworked design. BMW lengthened the wheelbase by a little over 2 inches, giving it shorter overhangs than before. The company gave it a longer hood, longer overall length, and moved around or redesigned some of BMW’s well-known styling elements.

The grille is now bigger than ever. The headlights have been pushed out a little towards the fenders, the taillights were enlarged, and the fenders are a little more distinct. BMW gifted the 2018 X3 with two new engines as well, including a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six. Unfortunately, BMW only had the xDrive30i with the turbo four-cylinder for us to test out, so we can't attest to what the M40i with the 355 hp and 369 lb-ft or torque six-cylinder is like behind the wheel. 

A Luxurious People Mover

2018 BMW X3 xDrive30i profile

We were expecting the new 2018 BMW X3 to drive really well. It was good, but we weren’t blown away. The vehicle leans a fair amount in the corners and the center of gravity feels pretty high. Even in sport mode, the X3 didn't feel as composed as we would've liked. That being said, the 8-speed automatic transmission puts the 2.0-liter engine's 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque through the all-wheel-drive system with authority. BMW claims a 0-60 time of just six seconds, which is seriously fast. 

2018 BMW X3 xDrive30i rear

While the vehicle leans in the corners, it does hold the road well. We doubt many people will be doing a lot of sporty driving in the xDrive30i version of the vehicle. The more powerful M40i may be used to carve along a canyon road occasionally, but we see the four-cylinder version as a luxurious family vehicle with plenty of technology and some comfy seats. It's built to be good on the road, but it's by no means a high-performance crossover.

For everyday use, the X3’s, turbo four-pot performs well, and its handling capabilities are worthy, too. If you spend most of your time in suburbia or on the freeway you should be happy with this vehicle's performance. Ride quality is top-notch over bumps and gaps in the road erring on the side of comfort. To really get a feel for how the X3 handles on the highway, though, we’d need to drive it more. We were limited to 20 minutes with the vehicle. 

A High-Class Interior and Top-of-the-Line Tech

2018 BMW X3 xDrive30i interior

The interior of the 2018 X3 will feel familiar to anyone who’s driven a BMW product in the last few years. It’s more of an evolution of the previous design than it is anything radically new or different. It features the oddly shaped, joystick-like electronic gear selector that’s in basically all of BMW’s models. The center stack of the vehicle is angled a little towards the driver, and the 10.25-inch iDrive infotainment screen sits on top of the dash in plain view.

2018 BMW X3 xDrive30i front seats

The standard Sport seats offer plenty of support and adjustment no matter where you sit, though legroom isn't as good as some competitors like the Jaguar F-Pace, Audi Q5, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC. Those vehicles offer a couple more inches in both the first and second row of seating. Cargo space is also a little behind the competition with the seats up at 28.7 cubic feet. However, with the seats folded, the X3 offers 62.7 cubic feet, which is better than the Audi Q5, and the Mercedes GLC. The Jaguar still beats it, though with 63.5 cubic feet of space.

Creature comforts and safety equipment abound in the X3, including three-zone automatic climate control, a 75 percent larger head-up display, adaptive cruise control, heated seats, heated steering wheel, lane-keep assist, automatic emergency braking, parking sensors, a 360-degree camera, and more. We couldn’t test out every feature on our short drive route, and BMW did not provide a spec sheet. That made it hard to tell exactly what was on our tester during our short time with the crossover.

2018 BMW X3 xDrive30i infotainment

The iDrive infotainment system can be operated by the swivel wheel controller in the center console, the steering wheel controls, or by the touchscreen on the dash. The X3 can also be had with gesture control, which is in the BMW 7-Series and 5-Series, too. That feature allows you to control certain functions with the wave of your hand instead of touching the screen or using the controller. The tech functioned flawlessly for us and the once labyrinthine iDrive system is now pretty easy to use. Honestly, all the tech is. The display of buttons on the dash and the multiple controls for the infotainment system means you can access features in whatever way you want.  

Pricing for the 2018 X3 has been set at $42,450 for the xDrive30i and $54,300 for the M40i. Add any of the optional packages and the price can go up considerably. Even the base price is a little more expensive than competitors like Mercedes-Benz GLC or the Jaguar F-Pace. It will be interesting to see if shoppers find BMW’s X3 worth the extra money. That being said, the X3 is a few dollars cheaper than the new Volvo XC60, which comes in at $42,495, so it's price isn't outlandish by any means. BMW seems to have put its money in many of the right spots, so we could see the new X3 being a real winner for the brand. 

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