Technically, the X3 falls into the category of small SUV. And yet, nothing about it seems small. It delivers big performance with some big-time fun.
It’s been nearly twenty years since BMW unveiled the X3, and it’s been a fan favorite since that very first day. And really, what’s not to like? It delivers good fuel efficiency for its class without sacrificing the get-up-and-go we all enjoy from the German car maker.
Without a major overhaul for ’22, BMW instead did some touch-up work, mostly on the exterior appearance. The grille got a little bigger while the headlights got a bit slimmer. There are some slight modifications to the rear lights, the bumpers, and the wheels, as well.
There are three trim choices available on the X3. BMW retired the plug-in hybrid version, so the models begin with the sDrive30i (with rear-wheel drive) and xDrive30i (all-wheel, and the one I drove for a week).
If you’re looking for a little more oomph, check out the M40i, which offers a 3.0-liter 6-cylinder engine that produces 382 horsepower, along with a mild hybrid system.
The X3 comfortably seats five passengers.
I think the tweaks they’ve made to the exterior keep it fresh. I’ve always thought the X3 was one of the more stylish SUVs on the road, and this year is no exception. It’s an attractive ride.
BMW features a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which is pretty much average for this category. They also offer three years of complimentary basic maintenance.
Hey, this is a luxury SUV, and you can tell the minute you slip behind the wheel. There are rumbles about whether or not BMW is falling a bit behind their competitors when it comes to overall fabulousness—but I doubt seriously you’ll find much to complain about.
First of all, it’s roomy and quite comfortable. You get standard power front sport seats with all sorts of adjustments, and even your rear-seat passengers will find reclining capabilities. That’s just cool.
The interior oozes style, all the way down to the faux leather dash. For pernickety riders, you get multi-zone climate control.
I love the large windows which circle the X3. It’s bright and airy, and provides a good glimpse into your blind-spot. The entire cockpit provides good headroom and legroom. I climbed around in the backseat just to make sure it wasn’t an optical illusion, and that space is for real.
As for cargo, you get around 29 cubic feet in the way-back, which increases handsomely to more than 62 cubic feet when the rear seats are lowered.
This is a no-doubter. For a 4,300 pound small SUV, this baby handles like a nimble sports sedan. Plenty of power is there to provide confidence when merging and passing. Does it win the zero-to-sixty test? No, it’s not the fastest off the line—but don’t let that fool you. The acceleration is very good, even if it’s not setting the pavement on fire.
I’m always impressed by the handling of BMW’s sport utility vehicles, and this year’s X3 is no exception. Tight around the turns, and composed over rough stretches of road. Bumpy conditions are smoothed out and the ride is almost eerily quiet.
Braking was superb, again providing confidence. It’s not the best steering feel I’ve experienced, but still above average. All in all, this was a fun vehicle to scoot up some of the winding roads of the foothills.
For starters, I recommend the Premium Package. That adds a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, and lumbar support. It also gives you a heads-up display, which will spoil you. (My current car doesn’t have it, and it’s the one thing I wish I had.)
Plus, you’ll love BMW’s gesture control. Some cameras aimed down from the rear view mirror (over the center console) detect hand gestures that you can use to control certain functions. Just one example: Turn your index finger in a circular motion and it will adjust the volume on your music.
It’s something you should see to fully understand. Here’s a video that explains. I have no doubt that as time goes by, these functions and features will expand.
The X3 has a nice blend of touchscreen and control dials. Personally, I’m glad to see that BMW gives us a few things we can still manipulate physically. Wireless ApplePlay and Android Auto integration is standard.
The two screens (dashboard and climate/entertainment) are large and simple to understand.
The Bottom Line
The luxury small SUV market is getting crowded, and each manufacturer seems to nose ahead in one particular area or another. Everyone, it seems, has a nice story to tell.
But BMW has been telling that story with the X3 for nearly twenty years. There’s a reason it’s their bestselling model. The combination of a manageable size, great handling and engine performance, cargo storage, nice tech toys, and a gorgeous exterior all make it a winner.
2022 BMW X3 xDrive30i
2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline 4 cylinder
8-speed automatic transmission
Fuel economy: 21/28/24 combined
As tested: $51,390
Reviewed by Dom Testa, July, 2022
Vehicle provided by manufacturer