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X3 E83 (2004 - 2010)
Talk about the E83 BMW X3 in this forum!

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  #1  
Old 02-14-2010, 03:04 PM
amazer98 amazer98 is offline
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I'm wondering if X3's are reliable?

Hi,

I'm a newbie here at Bimmerfest and I have a question: Are 2005-2006 X3's reliable?

The reason I'm asking is that I'm considering buying a used X3 of that vintage. Right now, I'm driving a VW Jetta GLI-- basically a GTI with a trunk. It's a great car, fun to drive, but after an hour or so, my back starts to hurt. The seats are nicely bolstered with lots of eletrically controlled lumbar adjustments, but nothing I do can make them comfortable for drives of 60 minutes or longer. My wife experiences the same discomfort.

Anyway, we thought that the more upright sitting position of an SUV might suit us better. I'd like to drive something small and sporty like an X3 BUT... the last time I owned a Bimmer it was a financial nightmare. The car was a 1993 328is that I owned from 1999-2006. Everything went wrong on that car, despite my careful maintenance: a broken suspension spring, clutch, transmission, control rods, brakes, head gasket leaked, another engine seal also leaked. I think I put about $12K into that car over the 5 years I owned it.

Once, as I drove along, a fan belt snapped and whipped around several pulleys, smashing them and causing a total of about $800 damage. OK, maybe some of these things could happen on any car, but compared to our 11 year old Sienna van (or any of the cars that we've owned except for a 1986 Audi 5000 Turbo-- but that's another story), the BMW was cursed.

So... I'm interested in feedback from those of you with X3's that are 4+ years old. How are they holding up? I'm interested in any gripes or problems you've had.

Thanks for your comments!

Andy M.
Hollis, NH
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  #2  
Old 02-14-2010, 03:34 PM
06BMWX3 06BMWX3 is offline
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Love mine, '06, 3.0i, CPO'd, got it about 6 months ago with 58 000KM on the clock.

What I regret, is not getting the sport pack with 18'' or 19''(M package it's called I think in Canada), and the manual tranny.

Mine has been super reliable, and LOVE it. I'm also coming out from VW world, and dont regret my move
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  #3  
Old 02-14-2010, 05:21 PM
UncleJ UncleJ is offline
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Mein Auto: '06 X3
I have an '06 non sport with the factory 18" option wheels. I have 52K miles on it and have had no trouble at all, except for a seat heater that was replaced. My wife hates the car's horrible ride over rough roads, however this has improved with the replacement of the OEM Scorpions with Michelin Pilot Sport Plus tires. They seem to handle the nasty stuff better while retaining the excellent performance. Personally I would get another car and will as soon as this one starts giving me the least bit of trouble. I generally keep a car as long as it works well with few problems. When they start adding up, its gone. I am going to look at the new domestic offerings from GM since I really like the looks of the new Buick Enclave and it gets virtually the same mileage with lots more content and room. For a "cute ute" the X3 has been useful but the hard ride gets old. A note about "sport and non sport". Others will disagree but for the life of me I cannot tell one iota of difference between the two in terms of performance. Perhaps the sport will hang on just a hair longer than the non sport at the absolute edge of the performance envelope but since I don't drive there it doesn't matter to me. Just my opinion. Look around some more there are way more choices out there now than when I bought mine in '06.
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  #4  
Old 02-14-2010, 05:25 PM
new2u new2u is offline
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Mein Auto: 2006 X3 3.0i
I got 06 3.0i CPO, and I love mine so far, though it has been in service for several times now.
(Blown front speaker, exhaust pipe valve, windows power motor failure, cosmetic parts (windows door switch bezel peeling), sunroof rattle, etc. These were all covered under warranty.)

I think it really depends on your luck when getting used cars. So make sure to drive and test all in as many situations as possible.
Nonethless, you will fall in love with X3 once you drive it.
And make sure to get a CPO X3 in case something goes wrong.

Last edited by new2u; 02-14-2010 at 05:27 PM.
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  #5  
Old 02-14-2010, 05:27 PM
amazer98 amazer98 is offline
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Thanks for the feedback, guys! By the way, what does "CPO's" mean? Also, I wonder if the 18" wheels are the culprit for the harsh ride over rough roads.

I know that with mu GLI, everyone in the VW online forum was warning people away from the 18" wheels because those wheels gave a harsh ride and would in any event get damaged driving along roads with potholes. I'm on 17" wheels and they deliver an excellent responsive ride... I think those over-sized wheels are overrated for regular roads with frost heaves and potholes.
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  #6  
Old 02-14-2010, 05:34 PM
new2u new2u is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amazer98 View Post
Thanks for the feedback, guys! By the way, what does "CPO's" mean? Also, I wonder if the 18" wheels are the culprit for the harsh ride over rough roads.

I know that with mu GLI, everyone in the VW online forum was warning people away from the 18" wheels because those wheels gave a harsh ride and would in any event get damaged driving along roads with potholes. I'm on 17" wheels and they deliver an excellent responsive ride... I think those over-sized wheels are overrated for regular roads with frost heaves and potholes.
CPO: Certified Pre-Owned.
Basically, with CPO from BMW, you get 2 more years of warranty from BMW after the new car warranty expires, though not everything will be covered. And you will need to pay $50 deductible each time you visit for the warranty work.

Here's more information about it:
http://www.bmwusa.com/Standard/Content/CPO/Default.aspx

If you are used to the BMW suspension setting and like the sport handling, you will find 18" wheels ok. But it's really more of a personal taste thing. You should test drive to find out yourself.
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  #7  
Old 02-14-2010, 05:35 PM
slovan slovan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amazer98 View Post
Thanks for the feedback, guys! By the way, what does "CPO's" mean?
Certified Pre-Owned
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  #8  
Old 02-14-2010, 06:02 PM
codog2 codog2 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amazer98 View Post

The reason I'm asking is that I'm considering buying a used X3 of that vintage. Right now, I'm driving a VW Jetta GLI-- basically a GTI with a trunk. It's a great car, fun to drive, but after an hour or so, my back starts to hurt. The seats are nicely bolstered with lots of eletrically controlled lumbar adjustments, but nothing I do can make them comfortable for drives of 60 minutes or longer.
Just curious how is the reliability of the GLI? Do like the look of them and the new GTI, but I've heard that vw's are have electrical nightmares after 50k
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  #9  
Old 02-14-2010, 06:53 PM
amazer98 amazer98 is offline
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Well, I've had my GLI since June 2008. Bought it Certified from a VW dealer in Barre, VT with about 21K and it now has 38K. I guess VW's Certified coverage is better than BMW's, since there's no deductible per visit. The basic warranty was 36 months/50K, and the certified coverage added another 24 months/24K to it, so the car is covered until Feb 2012.

For the time I've owned it, the GLI has been virtually trouble-free. Only issues were a driver's door switch (that activated interior light) that needed to be replaced, a check engine light alert that resulted in replacement of the intake flap motor (whatever that is), and a ruptured windshield spritzer hose, all fixed under warranty.

Besides the uncomfortable seats (about which I should note many reviewers raved how wonderful they are, so maybe my wife and I are the exception), my only nit to pick with the car is that it takes the heater an unusually long time to warm up. Other reviewers have confirmed this as well; I even asked my dealer to check into this and he said that a temperature probe of the footwell vents indicated that the system was "normal". Still, I have to say that this car warms up very slowly, even judging from the speed with which the temperature gauge needle reluctantly moves from the far left position.

But I have had no other complaints. The car is a blast to drive, the engine is fantastic, with lots of low end torque and power to spare when passing on winding roads going uphill. The DSG dual-clutch automatic 6-speed is very high-tech-- probably the best auto tranny out there in any car less than $50K. It shifts almost imperceptibly smoothly, and delivers better acceleration and mileage than the manual (I know this is hard to believe, but check the specs.

I average about 26 mpg, and I have to admit I'm a bit lead-footed. I still might keep this car, even with the pain in the back issues (we're in our mid 50s), but I'm looking forward to driving the X3. I'd love to find a deal on a Bimmer coupe, but after our last financial fiasco with that '93 325, my wife would probably veto that.

By the way, are the newer Bimmers better rust-proofed than the 1993 models? I had some invasive rust on my '93 when it was just 10 years old. OK, I know I live in New England, but our Sienna van is 10.5 years old and it has zero rust.
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  #10  
Old 02-14-2010, 07:19 PM
cubed cubed is offline
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Cant find the original article -- but it is referenced in this quote from the web I found

In 2009, for example, the X3 was lauded for the second time in a row with the renowned Yellow Angel Award by Germany's and, indeed, the world's largest motoring club, the Allgemeine Deutsche Automobilclub (ADAC), for outstanding all-round quality. Proceeding from the findings of ADAC's breakdown helpers famous throughout Germany as "Yellow Angels", this leading motoring club once again acknowledged the BMW X3 as the most reliable vehicle on the road in Germany.

Last but certainly not least, BMW's SAV also comes right at the top in terms of lasting value. In the category of off-road vehicles the market observers at EurotaxSchwacke ranked the BMW X3 No 1 in their AutomobilForecastIndex 2008, confirming that of all vehicles in this segment BMW's SAV shows the lowest decline in value

OK heres the link

http://www.autospies.com/news/BMW-X3...s-roads-40910/
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Last edited by cubed; 02-14-2010 at 07:21 PM.
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  #11  
Old 02-14-2010, 07:25 PM
amazer98 amazer98 is offline
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...but does the X3 have Fahrfuneggen? (I know, I know ya gotta stick up for your current ride!). Actually, it's certainly a big plus to hear the X3 is the most reliable vehicle in germany. I don't really expect it to be as reliable as our Toyota, I just don't want to have expensive components failing on me left and right; I've been there, and it's not pleasant. You're never quite sure when to get rid of your car, and every time you spend more $$ on repairs, you become more vested in holding on to it.
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  #12  
Old 02-14-2010, 09:26 PM
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Evlengr Evlengr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amazer98 View Post

But I have had no other complaints. The car is a blast to drive, the engine is fantastic, with lots of low end torque and power to spare when passing on winding roads going uphill. The DSG dual-clutch automatic 6-speed is very high-tech-- probably the best auto tranny out there in any car less than $50K. It shifts almost imperceptibly smoothly, and delivers better acceleration and mileage than the manual (I know this is hard to believe, but check the specs.

I average about 26 mpg, and I have to admit I'm a bit lead-footed. I still might keep this car, even with the pain in the back issues (we're in our mid 50s), but I'm looking forward to driving the X3. I'd love to find a deal on a Bimmer coupe, but after our last financial fiasco with that '93 325, my wife would probably veto that.

By the way, are the newer Bimmers better rust-proofed than the 1993 models? I had some invasive rust on my '93 when it was just 10 years old. OK, I know I live in New England, but our Sienna van is 10.5 years old and it has zero rust.
You may want to take a serious look at the AT sticky if you are considering an 07 X3 or higher. The AT is not known for its smooth shifting even under good conditions. I replaced my (with BMW's assistance) AT with an MT that is as smooth a stick shift I have ever owned. So much so that even in heavy DC traffic I rarely notice and after the worst snowfall in MD history I still had no problems on snow packed hill starts. The one thing I have noticed on every VW I had including my wifes is the tail lights always burn out. Not sometimes, but always burn out.

As far as the ride and back issues. My wifes Jetta had much better seats than either of my X3's. I recently have broken my back for the third time and can handle the vehicle for about 45 minutes at a time. Not bad considering I have now shattered 6 vertebrae. I would prefer her seats over the BMW, but they are tolerable.
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  #13  
Old 02-15-2010, 01:14 AM
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HT417 HT417 is offline
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In regards to cubed's post: ADAC is the rough German equivalent of AAA for those unaware. They've got years of experience helping out stranded motorists. They would definitely know which vehicles are reliable or not. It's really a great service that's very reasonably priced.

In regards to reliability, strengths, and weaknesses; a recent German Auto Bild (car magazine) article, issue Nr. 2, 15 Jan 2010, pages 72 & 73, www.autobild.de, looked at a used 2005 2.0d. They ended up testing a 3.0d with 100,000km(~62,500 miles) on it. They said it drove like new and showed no sign of a worn transfer case. The point of the article was whether or not an X3 was a good used car value. They felt it was, that the vehicle was reliable, and when it did need repairs, the prices were reasonable.

Some of their comments about the X3 in general and not related to any particular power train:

Positives:

+ cockpit design and layout. They noted that prior to 2007 it was common for the covering to peel from plastic surfaces.
+ smooth, powerful, efficient engines.
+ good handling at the cost of a very firm ride.
+ storage capacity.

Negatives:

- suspension - a tendency for the rear springs to break and rare cases of porous brake hoses although the steering and other suspension components were solid. They also noted that 19" tires wear faster on one side.
- AWD - the differentials sometimes develop leaks leading to gear whine. The transfer cases are also an occasional failure and can be identified by a droning or buzzing sound, or a jerking or bucking when accelerating.
- the panoramic roof will commonly have squeaks and rattles and the cables may stretch unevenly causing improper closure and wind noise.
- batteries - especially when the vehicle is driven short distances with heated seats and rear defroster engaged, thereby preventing proper charging.

Interestingly, they noted the clutch may suffer a short life if used as you might expect an X3 to be used - pulling small trailers in muddy conditions. For this and against the difficult cold weather shifting inherent in manual transmissions, they recommended the "inconspicuous/unobtrusive" automatic. They weren't, however, completely satisfied with the 6AT attached to the 3 liter they tested. They felt that with the adequate torque available from the diesel that there was no need for it to downshift as quickly and often as it did.

Overall, they gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Last edited by HT417; 02-15-2010 at 01:16 AM. Reason: Grammar
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  #14  
Old 02-15-2010, 04:21 AM
T1T2GRE T1T2GRE is offline
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BMW reliability >>> VW

1993 3 series = fail

X3 = the SUSPENSION IS NOT that bad if you get the 17" wheels. I can't stand it when people go grab 19" or 20" setups and then bitch that it's a rough ride. The nice handling comes from a stiffer suspension. You can't have a "cushy" SUV ride AND have great handling. Not gonna happen. The X3 trades it off for a nicer handling experience w/slightly stiffer ride.

Issues you probably will encounter = rattling sunroof, tranny issues if you get the slushbox (get a manual and spare yourself anyway)

Good luck!
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Old 02-15-2010, 05:13 AM
amazer98 amazer98 is offline
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Thanks for all the good feedback. Evlenger: you mentioned that the Auto doesn't shift smoothly. I'm on the fence about which tranny to get-- I enjoy shifting, but most X3s seem to have auto. Probably would make my decsion based on which X3 sold for the best price (other factors like mileage and options taken into account). Can other posters confirm or dispute the rough shifting of the auto... maybe some model years shift smoother than others. I don't think I can afford an '07 model however.

Also, the GLI seats may be a lot more comfortable in, say, the Tiguan, where you sit more upright or at least higher off the ground. I've cranked up my seat a bit so my head is just an inch from the headliner, and that does help comfortwise. I don't recall being uncomfortable in my old 325is, and its seating position was closer to a sportscar. Then again, I was in my mid-40s back then and my back was no doubt in better condition. So, I think seating position is at least as important as the seat design, at least when it comes to comfort.

I am a bit concerned about the trouble areas mentioned: rattling sunroof, broken springs and leaks in transfer case. Are you guys experiencing any of those issues?
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Old 02-15-2010, 06:38 AM
Sonoman707 Sonoman707 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amazer98 View Post
I am a bit concerned about the trouble areas mentioned: rattling sunroof, broken springs and leaks in transfer case. Are you guys experiencing any of those issues?

2004 3.0i / Auto - 93,000+ Miles. No big issues. Sunroof sometimes has a slight rattle (dependent on outside temperature and roughness of the road). No leaks, broken springs, or transmission issues.

Replaced 02 sensor somewhere between 30K - 40K miles, Boudin cable (opens the door) somehwere around 70K, and a right rear window regulator @ 92K.

I have been very satisfied with it and plan to buy another after the 2011s are introduced.
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Old 02-15-2010, 06:41 AM
06BMWX3 06BMWX3 is offline
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'04-'06 X3 dont have the AT problem, only '07+
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  #18  
Old 02-15-2010, 07:24 AM
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AzNMpower32 AzNMpower32 is offline
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I crossed 89k miles yesterday and I can definitely say it's reliable. The moonroof drains and batteries tend to be the weak points (then again I'm still on my first battery, so your results may vary). I have a lot of the electronic options and they all still work like new: electric folding mirrors, heated seats, steering wheel heating, adaptive xenons, even that electric moonroof shade which I thought would be the first to break!
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Old 02-15-2010, 08:29 AM
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Evlengr Evlengr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amazer98 View Post
Thanks for all the good feedback. Evlenger: you mentioned that the Auto doesn't shift smoothly. I'm on the fence about which tranny to get-- I enjoy shifting, but most X3s seem to have auto. Probably would make my decsion based on which X3 sold for the best price (other factors like mileage and options taken into account). Can other posters confirm or dispute the rough shifting of the auto... maybe some model years shift smoother than others. I don't think I can afford an '07 model however.

Also, the GLI seats may be a lot more comfortable in, say, the Tiguan, where you sit more upright or at least higher off the ground. I've cranked up my seat a bit so my head is just an inch from the headliner, and that does help comfortwise. I don't recall being uncomfortable in my old 325is, and its seating position was closer to a sportscar. Then again, I was in my mid-40s back then and my back was no doubt in better condition. So, I think seating position is at least as important as the seat design, at least when it comes to comfort.

I am a bit concerned about the trouble areas mentioned: rattling sunroof, broken springs and leaks in transfer case. Are you guys experiencing any of those issues?
If you get an 06 or earlier you don't have to worry about the AT. All the troubles started when they changed the the AT to a 6 speed in 07. Please read the tranny sticky. That will minimize a lot of the commentary.

If you like stick and can find one at a good price--do not hesitate. It is the best MT I have ever driven.
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Old 02-15-2010, 09:52 AM
UncleJ UncleJ is offline
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amaz. looking at your responses it seems as if the seats are really an issue for you. I suggest that you consider the Tiguan, or a XC Volvo. The Volvo (my daughters have an XC70 and XC90) have the best most comfortable seats I have ever ridden in. In fact, if you are looking for a good upright driving position, take a look at the XC70. The drivers' height is just about the same as in my X3. Another one to consider, being from NH you probably already have, is a Subaru Outback or Forester. You can probably get a brand new Subie for less than an used X3 too. Again, another upright driving position with comfortable seats. Lots of choices!

Last edited by UncleJ; 02-15-2010 at 09:55 AM.
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  #21  
Old 02-15-2010, 01:12 PM
amazer98 amazer98 is offline
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UncleJ, I did consider the Tiguan and Volvo. I was concerned that even though the Tiguan does seat you higher and more upright than the Jetta/GLI, it's still the same VW seat, which has been cursed in my mind. Also, if I'm gonna change cars, I'd like to change the experience, and the interior of the Tiguan is identical to that of the GLI. The Volvo models you mentioned are bigger than we want and, moreover, the Volvo driving experience isn't known for performance and handling. Plus, aren't Volvos even more troublesome than Bimmers? (and my sense is that people on this forum are pleased by the long-term reliability of the x3, which comes as a pleasant surprise). Since our other vehicle is an aging Sienna van, I'd like to have one car that's fun to drive.

I've also considered the Subie Outback XT or Legacy GT, both with the turbo boxer engine that yields about 245hp. They got decent reviews but their manual trannys are known for being rubbery and notchy; the turbos come with a 5-speed auto option, which would probably be preferable. But the catch with Subies is that a number of owners on forums complained about their poor reliability. And the GT and XT models are very hard to find-- they go for the same price as the X3, which strikes me as a better car.

It's great to know that the 2006 model actually has a smoother auto transmission (if I go that route)-- I'd prefer a manual. Now, what other company offers a row-your-own-gears option in a 6 cylinder car?

Last edited by amazer98; 02-15-2010 at 01:16 PM.
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Old 02-15-2010, 09:08 PM
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HT417 HT417 is offline
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Originally Posted by amazer98 View Post
Plus, aren't Volvos even more troublesome than Bimmers?
Not from my experience or any of my coworkers who own a lot of XC90's. In fact, I dare say the opposite is true.
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Old 02-15-2010, 10:35 PM
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Evlengr Evlengr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amazer98 View Post

It's great to know that the 2006 model actually has a smoother auto transmission (if I go that route)-- I'd prefer a manual. Now, what other company offers a row-your-own-gears option in a 6 cylinder car?
Amazer, I guess you could say I am known here for being out spoken. I was one of the very first to complain about and eventually convince BMWNA to understand the problems of my 07 AT.

As a reference of my driving experience I have owned (not in any particular order) an 84 GTI, Porsche 924S, Turbo RX7, 69 GTO, 56 Vette to name a few MT's.

As much as I disliked (dreaded my be a better word) my AT 07 X3 I love the MT 08 X3. I would have gotten one off the bat, but never checked to see if an SUV came MT. The shifting can't be any easier. I would prefer to have a shorter throw on it, but that is just nitpicking. If they don't make an MT in 2012 when I am ready for a new toy I probably will look elsewhere.

Short story: Not enough good words for the MT.
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2013 S4 Loaded (and NO RFT's) Awesome is an understatement
2008 MT X3 RIP you were a faithful sidekick and will be missed.
2007 AT X3 RIPOS
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  #24  
Old 02-16-2010, 06:44 AM
T1T2GRE T1T2GRE is offline
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FWIW, my snrf has been fine on my '09 (my '07 was another story) .

No drain issues yet. Everything so far has been ok except for an intermittent central locking issue and a random lamp warning light episode. So far tons better than the '07 was.

But I also have a manual
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Old 02-16-2010, 07:30 AM
UncleJ UncleJ is offline
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Posts: 6,553
Mein Auto: '06 X3
amaz, there are several other SUV/SAV with a standard stick. The best of these is probably the Porsche Cayenne V6 which is also hard to find used. There are a couple of others, Kia and Hyundai have entry level cute utes with a stick and of course the Tiguan has a base stick, but with the turbo 4. I was never a Volvo person but when the daughters got theirs, for the kids, I found a lot to like about them. So much so that one of the cars I will be looking at to replace my X3 is the new XC60. Their maintentance and repair experience has been good with the XC70 turning 120K miles with no real issues. The XC90 has also been trouble free needing only new front brakes at 35K miles. The seats in both of them are wonderful!

Last edited by UncleJ; 02-16-2010 at 07:32 AM.
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