|Positives: Efficient and potent engine, excellent handling for a crossover, nicely balanced ride, superb interior fit and finish, standard all-wheel drive|
|Negatives: Finicky infotainment system at times, looks a lot like the 2017 model.|
|Bottom Line: BMW has made an evolutionary X3 for the 2018 model year that's just about perfect. From great driving dynamics, a rich cabin, and a solid amount of room, the new X3 will sell incredibly well for a luxury crossover. The base model is really all you'll ever need and will save you quite a bit of coin over the hot-performing M40i trim.|
The X3 is really a great all-arounder when it comes to the driving experience. Balanced, smooth, quick, responsive. It's a vehicle that should please most buyers.
Ride Quality: The X3 strikes a solid balance between comfort and sport. It's a well-tuned ride that manages bumps well without losing road feel.
Acceleration: The excellent turbocharged 4-cylinder engine moves the X3 to 60 in six seconds, but there is some lag at the low end. The 8-speed automatic is smooth and quick.
Braking: Our tester came with the optional M Sport brakes, and they're strong and progressive. Pedal feel was very good.
Steering: Steering is precise, and turn-in is quick, but as with nearly all modern BMWs there's not much feedback through the steering column.
Handling: The suspension setup from the Dynamic Handling Package is excellent, and it keeps the X3 planted and body roll to a minimum.
BMW's technology is some of the best, though the infotainment system can get overly complicated at times. The larger, vivid head-up display is excellent.
Infotainment System: We love the new 10.2" touchscreen that's responsive and attractive. BMW handily beats Audi, Mercedes, and Lexus in terms of aesthetics.
Controls: The center control knob actuates beautifully, and the audio controls still have physical knobs. Unfortunately, advancing music from our phones got a bit fussy with the BMW system. Better to use Apple CarPlay here.
Most folks will find it hard to tell the difference between the old X3 and this new one. That being said, the changes result in a handsome vehicle that should age well through this generation.
Front: The front end is thicker, taller and has more presence than the 2017 model. Headlights are rounded at the base, and the kidney grilles are larger. It looks more muscular and more refined at the same time.
Rear: The more sculpted taillights give the X3 a wider stance from the rear, and the scalloped roof spoiler is a nice touch.
Profile: BMW smoothed out the front fender by eliminating the crease that extended from the headlight. The body crease is now straight with a deeper sculpting in the driver's side door. The 5-Series-like fender vent looks great, though we doubt it's functional.
Cabin: The new interior is much richer than the previous X3. Fit and finish are excellent, and even the copious amounts of piano black are pretty well done.
BMW paid a lot of attention to the interior of the new X3. It might not be the biggest luxury crossover, but it's got more room and comfort than you'd expect for the size.
Front Seats: BMW makes great seat, and our Sport versions have solid bolstering and the right amount of cushioning. We love the thigh extensions.
Rear Seats: The length of the X3 has been increased, and the 2nd row is well-sized for two adults. Three may find it challenging. The seats are comfortable and thankfully recline.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The cabin is hushed without any intrusive noise or vibration. It's a very nice place to pass the time.
Visibility: The hoodline is taller, so it's a bit more challenging to place it, but the cameras and parking sensors help tremendously. At one point, the sensors seemed to go off constantly, regardless of whether we were actually near an object or not.
Climate: The system works very well, just like we'd expect from any BMW. Adjustability is great, and the heated seats work quickly.
The new X3 hasn't been crash tested yet by either entity, but it likely will get tested. The 2017 model did well in crash tests but didn't nab top marks because of marginal headlights and LATCH ease of use scores.
IIHS Rating: Not tested.
NHTSA Rating: Not tested.
Standard Tech: In base trim, aside from airbags, ABS, traction and stability control, there's not much standard gear other than Hill Descent Control, and the head protection system.
Optional Tech: Our X3 had the Driver Assistance Package with Active Blind Spot Protection, Lane Departure Warning, Daytime Pedestrian Protection, Frontal Collision Warning with City Collision Mitigation, Cross Traffic Alert rear and Speed Limit Info.
For its size, the X3 has a solid amount of truly usable cargo space. There are also good storage bins in the cabin to stow away gear.
Storage Space: We love the main cubby in front of the shifter with its corrugated retractable door to keep things out of plain site. The armrest is also a good spot for smaller items.
Cargo Room: The X3 has 28.7 cubic feet with the seats in place and a spacious 62.7 with all the seats folded flat. Even with the second row up, there's ample space for luggage and groceries.
The powerful 4-cylinder engine also happens to be pretty good in terms of efficiency. The smooth transmission doesn't have to hunt for gears and downshifts quickly and with certainty. This also helps the mpgs.
Observed: 21.3 mpg
Distance Driven: 233 miles
Driving Factors: We drove quite a bit in Sport plus mode, but rode in Comfort mode on open highways.
The $875 Harman Kardon upgrade is well worth the money. Sound is loud and full, and the bass is strong. We didn't experience any distortion, and the system was a pleasure to listen to.