Consumer Reports Review:
Consumer Reports Rates X3 28i #1
Consumer Reports rates X3 28i #1
Consumer Reports rates 2013 X3 28i #1 Compact Sporty Sport-Utility Vehicle.
Compact sporty sport-utility vehicles
BMW X3 xDrive28i (2.0T)
$38,500 - $43,600
$34,320 - $39,420
$36,800 - $40,550
Audi Q5 2.0T
$35,900 - $50,900
Volkswagen Tiguan SEL
$22,995 - $36,820
$37,155 - $50,555
Volvo XC60 T6
$34,350 - $48,950
$37,090 - $39,090
Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
$41,145 - $44,145
NA NA 21
Land Rover LR2
$36,400 - $36,400
NA NA 18
Road TestxDrive28i 4-cyl
The X3 provides a sporty driving experience with a beautifully finished, quiet, comfortable cabin. Agile handling and spirited performance make the X3 fun to drive. A new turbocharged four-cylinder base engine replaces the outgoing six-cylinder and gets a very good 23 mpg overall but it isn't as refined as the sweet inline Six. Controls tend to be somewhat complicated.
The Driving Experience
Ride comfort and noise: Despite an underlying tautness, the X3's ride is compliant and controlled. Some road bumps provoke short, quick side-to-side motions, though. The highway ride feels solid and unruffled. The drum-tight cabin remains very quiet for the most part although some road hiss can creep in, and when the four-cylinder engine is idling it emits a mild but noticeable diesel-like clatter from its direct fuel injection.
Handling: The X3 drives almost as crisply as a good sports sedan. Body lean is well tamed and the quick steering provides welcome feedback. The AWD system works transparently. When pushed to its limits the X3 remains stable and forgiving, and it threaded through our avoidance maneuver at a relatively high speed. Steering feedback, however, is somewhat diminished at its handling limits.
Powertrain: A new 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine replaces the conventional six-cylinder and gets the same 240 hp output. Fuel economy increased slightly to 23 mpg overall on required premium fuel. It serves up impressive performance, but isn't as refined as the previous engine. The higher-end X3 35i, which costs about $5,000 more, comes with a 300-hp, 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder.
All X3s use a very smooth eight-speed automatic transmission that shifts frequently but nearly imperceptibly. A manual transmission is no longer offered. Manual shift overrides are available through the fiddly electronic shift lever. Sport, Comfort, and EcoPro modes alter the shift points but we found the EcoPro mode noticeably dulled the power response.
There's also an engine stop/start system that shuts down the engine while idling to save fuel, restarting instantly when you take your foot off the brake. We reckon it's good for about one mpg extra in city driving but the engine restarts with a slight shudder. If you don't care for this feature you can shut it off.
Braking: Overall performance was excellent on both wet and dry pavement.
Headlights: Low beams shine a good distance to the front and very good distance to the sides. They have a more gradual upper cutoff than most, making them more pleasing to drive behind. High beams are more intense and project farther down the road. Xenon high intensity discharge (HID) headlights are standard on the X3 35i but optional on the 28i.
Inside The Cabin
Driving position: Drivers sit high and upright, and the steering wheel has a helpfully generous range of tilt and telescope adjustments. We liked the well-placed left foot rest, too. Some tall drivers found the driving position a bit too narrow, with the console intruding on their right knee. Also, the power seat adjustments can take more fiddling than usual to find an ideal driving position.
Visibility is very good to the front and sides, thanks to a big windshield and unobtrusive thin windshield pillars. Large rear roof pillars, small quarter windows, and a small rear window impede rear visibility, however. Our X3 lacked the optional backup camera, a glaring omission for a $44,000 vehicle. Note to BMW: Even the Honda CR-V supplies a backup camera as standard equipment, at half the X3's price.
Seat comfort and access: The front seats are supportive, but some drivers may find them too firm. A power lumbar adjustment provides good lower-back support. Two or even three adults can fit comfortably in the rear, but the seat is too low to provide ideal thigh support, and the cushion in the center is very hard. Large door openings and shallow sills make access easy front and rear.
Controls and gauges: Many controls are awkward or confusing. The electronic console shifter requires the driver to press one button to shift into gear and another to park. Moreover, you must push the shifter forward from park to engage reverse. Wiper and turn signal stalks that return center make it hard to cancel an input or figure out what setting the wipers are on.
But while the iDrive multi-controller system remains complicated to navigate, there are now well-located hard keys for some radio and climate functions, so you won't necessarily be snared in a bureaucracy of unnecessary menus to make simple adjustments. Unfortunately, there is still no dedicated radio-tuning knob to make life behind the wheel even easier. The power lock button is on the center dash instead of the driver's door.
Most gauges are clear, but the speedometer is labeled only in 10-mph increments so it's tough to tell exactly how fast you're going. A digital heads-up speedometer display is optional.
Interior fit and finish: The interior is well finished and businesslike. Impressive touches include tightly woven, low-nap carpet, large wood-trim panels, nicely flocked storage compartments, and padded dash and door panels. Even the cargo area is well detailed, with adjustable tie-downs for cargo. A few misaligned dashboard panels and wide gaps on the center console are minor detractions.
Cabin storage and cargo room: Cabin storage is moderate, with a good-sized center-console bin and deep pockets in the front doors. The roomy and well-finished cargo area now has a standard powered liftgate. The rear seat folds in three sections to expand it further. A low cargo floor and flush sill makes it easy to load cargo. X3s have run-flat tires so there is no jack or spare tire.
Safety belts: All seats have lap-and-shoulder belts; the front pair has pretensioners, but they lack a height adjustment.
Air bags: Curtain air bags extend front and rear. Both front seats also have knee air bags. Sensors will disable all the air bags in the front passenger position if a child is sitting there, it senses that a child seat is mounted, or the seat is unoccupied.
Head restraints: Front and rear outboard seats have adjustable, locking head restraints that are tall enough to protect an adult even when lowered. Front-seat restraints are active, moving forward to mitigate whiplash injury in a rear crash. The center-rear restraint is too low for an adult and not adjustable.
Crash-avoidance systems: Electronic stability control, traction control, antilock brakes, and brake assist are all standard.
Driving with kids: When secured with belts alone, it can be difficult to keep a rear-facing infant seat in the center rear position from rocking side-to-side. Some rear-facing infant seat bases may also be too loose in the outboard seats when installed with belts. Child restraints can be better secured using the lower-LATCH anchors but they're a bit awkward to access. All three rear seating positions have top-tether anchors.
We do not have data to predict reliability, this model is new.
Tested model: 2013 xDrive28i 4-door SUV AWD, 2.0-liter 4-cyl. turbo, 8-speed automatic
Major options: Heated seats and steering wheel, leather, moonroof, satellite radio,40/20/40 folding rear seats
This road test applies to the current model year of this vehicle.