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X5 E53 (1999 - 2006)
The X5 SAV Forum

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  #1  
Old 02-14-2004, 08:44 AM
adgrant adgrant is offline
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Finally test drove the X3

I was at the dealership with my wife picking up her 2001 325XiT (the AWD wagon) which had just had its 30k mile inspection and replacement pads and rotors. The lease is up soon so we need to decide on a replacement. One option is a 2004 325XiT but we decided to test drive the 2.5 X3 since the price is about the same and an SAV is basically an AWD wagon with more ground clearance. I also drive an AWD BMW (a 2004 325Xi). We both used to drive RWD BMWs until we moved from a condo to a house with a long gravel driveway which becomes a long ice driveway in the winter months. We both really like BMWs but also like to get up our driveway in the winter.


Our salesman gave us the key and plate and we drove off. The first thing we noticed was the bigger cabin (much more headroom). The second thing was how cheap the interior materials looked and felt compared with the E46 3 series and even the E36 (we have plenty of experiance with both models). I thought the cabin was comparable in quality to the old 3 series hatchback (318ti). The X3 handled well but when I was riding as a passenger I noticed how poor the ride was. I even began to feel somewhat car sick. I didn't really get to test the performance as there was too much traffic but I suspect the 2.5 does not work as well in the X3 as it does in the 3 series car.


After the test drive we returned the key and a salesman asked me what I thought of the X3. I told him I preferred the 3 series because the X3 ride was too harsh and the cabin cheap looking. He did not disagree with my assessment.
My wife and I got back into our 325Xis and drove away. We really appreciated our cars after driving the X3 and my wife told me after dinner that she wanted another 325XiT.

I agree with her (and some of the X3 reviews). The 325xiT is a better choice than an X3
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  #2  
Old 02-16-2004, 09:00 AM
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harplayr harplayr is offline
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It sometimes amazes me how differently 2 people can judge the same car. My experience was quite the opposite of yours. I have been in my 3 series for nine years now, and have driven the XI as a dealer loaner several times.

First of all, I don’t consider a direct comparison between these as really a valid test as one is a station wagon or car and the other a SUV. A more fair comparison would be SUV vs. SUV. If I were in the market for another sedan or a station wagon, the 330XI would be at the top of my list. I was however in the market for a SUV, so I judged the X3 vs. other SUVs in its class.

When I tested the X3 I was amazed how well it handled, with great road feel and maneuverability. I thought it was the closest thing I had ever driven to a 3 series sedan in an SUV. I have tested many SUVs and none were even close to the X3 in road feel, and handling. I found the ride to be a bit different due to the increased ride height, but by no means did it feel overly harsh or uncomfortable. As far as getting car sick, I was probably too busy grinning to notice. I found that the interior was of good quality, but not opulent. The interior seemed a bit different, but on a par with my 325I. The seats were comfortable and the driver position was good. There are SUVs with nicer looking interiors, but for me it was an acceptable trade off of the X3 handling vs. the “luxury” of the Lexus 330.

I’m not suggesting your opinion is wrong, or mine is correct. For any prospective buyers reading this, I would take the “reviews” with a grain of salt, and advise that instead of relying on the opinions of drivers with conflicting views, that you go out and test one for yourself. There are a lot of good choices out there.
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  #3  
Old 02-16-2004, 09:43 AM
FireFly FireFly is offline
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I think it would be a tough call between the 325xit and the 2.5 X3. Seeing that you would likely benefit from the lower ground clearance of the xit the majority of the time, it may be a better choice.
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  #4  
Old 02-16-2004, 12:35 PM
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Technic Technic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adgrant
I was at the dealership with my wife picking up her 2001 325XiT (the AWD wagon) which had just had its 30k mile inspection and replacement pads and rotors. The lease is up soon so we need to decide on a replacement. One option is a 2004 325XiT but we decided to test drive the 2.5 X3 since the price is about the same and an SAV is basically an AWD wagon with more ground clearance. I also drive an AWD BMW (a 2004 325Xi). We both used to drive RWD BMWs until we moved from a condo to a house with a long gravel driveway which becomes a long ice driveway in the winter months. We both really like BMWs but also like to get up our driveway in the winter.


Our salesman gave us the key and plate and we drove off. The first thing we noticed was the bigger cabin (much more headroom). The second thing was how cheap the interior materials looked and felt compared with the E46 3 series and even the E36 (we have plenty of experiance with both models). I thought the cabin was comparable in quality to the old 3 series hatchback (318ti). The X3 handled well but when I was riding as a passenger I noticed how poor the ride was. I even began to feel somewhat car sick. I didn't really get to test the performance as there was too much traffic but I suspect the 2.5 does not work as well in the X3 as it does in the 3 series car.


After the test drive we returned the key and a salesman asked me what I thought of the X3. I told him I preferred the 3 series because the X3 ride was too harsh and the cabin cheap looking. He did not disagree with my assessment.
My wife and I got back into our 325Xis and drove away. We really appreciated our cars after driving the X3 and my wife told me after dinner that she wanted another 325XiT.

I agree with her (and some of the X3 reviews). The 325xiT is a better choice than an X3
I agree with you... I test drove a 3.0, drove nice (smooth road, though) but the interior got to go. If I really want to buy an "entry level" SUV in the premium segment I would get a Freelander, and now that they put some money in its interior, refreshed the exterior and lowered the price to $30K, it is kind of difficult to go for the X3 2.5 at some $38k comparately equipped. And when you are talking in the $40K+ SUV field, the X3 3.0 suddenly looks like a mistake...
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  #5  
Old 02-17-2004, 07:29 AM
Robok Robok is offline
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thanks, but disagree

Adgrant, thanks for the review, I have had a different experience and different opinions. When I first saw the X3 interior I had concerns since everyone had warned me about it. But then I looked at each piece and felt it and realized that its just different textures than I am used to. In addition, I really did not like the grey and when I later saw the same materials in black interior I liked it much better. What color interior did you look at?


As for the ride, I have driven it four times over rough and smooth roads and have no issue with the ride. I drive a very stiff car now, so maybe I am not a good comparison. I just don't understand the points people are making about the ride. Can you be more specific about what you were not liking -- too much feel coming through from the road? Suspension too hard or too soft? I am guessing you are thinking its too soft if it made you car sick??


I thought about a 330ix or a 325ix but wanted a fresher look as well as more utility space in the back (although i have not seen the BMW wagon up close). I drove an X5 but it seemed much more truck-like to me. So for me, the xDrive four wheel drive system, the utility of the back space, the fresh look and the car like driving experience, I am going with the X3.

Technic, could you post more details of what price comparison you did of the Freelander? When I compared the two, they seemed to price out a lot closer than the 30 vs. 38 K you are saying? What options did you put on a 2.5 X3 to bring it to 38?

For me it was all about the driving feel, and I like the X3 3.0.

Last edited by Robok; 02-17-2004 at 07:35 AM.
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  #6  
Old 02-17-2004, 01:48 PM
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Technic Technic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robok

Technic, could you post more details of what price comparison you did of the Freelander? When I compared the two, they seemed to price out a lot closer than the 30 vs. 38 K you are saying? What options did you put on a 2.5 X3 to bring it to 38?

For me it was all about the driving feel, and I like the X3 3.0.
Robok

At www.Landrover.com I configured a Freelander HSE with the following options:

* Java Black $250
* Alpaca Leather $0
* 18" Alloy Sport Wheels on 235/50R18 Continental Tires (set of 5) $750
* Fog Lamps $150

And the MSRP came to $30,145 (from base MSRP of $28,995).

The X3 comparately equipped is one with the following options:

* Jet Black: $0
* Terracota Leather: $1450
* Sport Package: $1500
* STEPTRONIC 5-Speed Automatic Transmission: $1275
* Servotronic Steering: $250
* Cruise Control with Multi-Function Steering Wheel: $475
* Power Glass Panorama Roof: $1350
* Foglights: $260
* Privacy Glass: $350

MSRP of $37905 (from base of $30995)... don't even think that going for the Premium package ($3800) will save you money: this will increase the MSRP to $39,680.

The X3 is bigger and it is a BMW, but not $8000 better IMHO.
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  #7  
Old 02-17-2004, 02:08 PM
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Soupcan325i Soupcan325i is offline
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I can't speak to the freelander, but the build quality of the two land rover discoveries I have been in was AWFUL. Problems like: paint coming off after only 5 years, dashboard separating from the dash, faulty window regulators (hey, something in common with the BMW!), rattles up the wazoo, a disintegrating headliner, and an engine that needed replacement at year 6 (with only 50k miles). Mind you, these cars weren't driven hard at all...
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  #8  
Old 02-19-2004, 06:53 PM
LeucX3 LeucX3 is offline
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Yeah, comparing sedans/wagons to SUVs (uhhh, SAVs) is like comparing a 745iL to a Range Rover. It just so happens that there are more people in the $30-40k market than that of a Range Rover.
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  #9  
Old 02-20-2004, 07:05 AM
Robok Robok is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Technic
Robok

At www.Landrover.com I configured a Freelander HSE with the following options:

[see above]

MSRP of $37905 (from base of $30995)... don't even think that going for the Premium package ($3800) will save you money: this will increase the MSRP to $39,680.

The X3 is bigger and it is a BMW, but not $8000 better IMHO.

Cool -- I like when people are specific!!!!!


I would not want the automatic, and the Sport package includes an upgraded steering wheel. I would get servotronic steering, but the Freelander does not have it, does it? Also, does the freelander have privacy glass?

I think your point is still valid, I think the X3 is priced a little high. I wish both of them had larger engines, the Freelander doesnt even offer an engine that compares to an X3 3.0 though does it?
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  #10  
Old 02-29-2004, 06:30 AM
adgrant adgrant is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leuc330Ci
Yeah, comparing sedans/wagons to SUVs (uhhh, SAVs) is like comparing a 745iL to a Range Rover. It just so happens that there are more people in the $30-40k market than that of a Range Rover.
So what exactly are the functional differences between a car based SUV like the X3 and an AWD Wagon. The only significant difference I can detect is the greater ground clearance of the SUV. For most people I believe the greater ground clearance is a disadvantage. The Xi has enough clearance to get up an unplowed driveway.

Truck based SUVs like the Ford Expedition are basically a Station Wagon body on a truck frame.

The Range Rover, like other Land Rover products is actually capable of being driven off road though I doubt that many owners do this.
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  #11  
Old 03-01-2004, 09:22 AM
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harplayr harplayr is offline
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For myself a large factor in going with a SAV vs. a Wagon is the cargo space. My wife and I are avid cyclists and the ability to transport our $3,000 bikes inside the SUV was very important. I also like the higher seating position that gives a great view of the road.

I don't understand the problem some have in figuring out that a sedan / wagon and a SAV are just different beasts. You could compare a Z4 with a seven series and say that the seven is just a 4 seater, but they really can't be directly compared, as they are different classes of vehicles.

Don't get me wrong, I think that the 3 series sedans and wagons are absolutely great vehicles, but they aren't just lower SAVs, they are in a different class.

If you don't need the extra cargo room, or ride position height, and the sedan or wagon fits your needs go with it. If you want an SAV the X3 or X5 may fit your needs then.

On another topic, since I took delivery on my X3, I discovered how important the tire pressure is to the ride quality on this car. The dealer had over inflated the tires by several psi, and the ride quality was really bad. I reduced the psi to the recommended pressure, and noticed a huge change for the better in the ride quality.

Last edited by harplayr; 03-01-2004 at 12:27 PM.
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  #12  
Old 03-04-2004, 06:33 PM
adgrant adgrant is offline
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The 5 series wagon has more cargo space than the 3 series wagon but they are both wagons. Higher seating position and ground clearance are the most significant differences is that I can see.

I am not sure why you think wagons and sedans are the same type of vehicle but wagons and SAVs are fundamentally different.
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  #13  
Old 03-05-2004, 01:57 PM
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harplayr harplayr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adgrant
I am not sure why you think wagons and sedans are the same type of vehicle but wagons and SAVs are fundamentally different.
I don't know if you're just egging me on or really cannot see that a sedan is not an SUV, and a wagon is not an SUV, and that neither one really should be compared head-to-head with an SUV.

For the sake of argument, lets Lets run a test.
Park a 3 series wagon next to a X3.
Can you see a difference, or do they look the same?
Are they built on the same platform?
Can you stick your bicycle upright in the 3 series wagon?
Can you stick you bicycle upright in the X3?
If you're sitting in the X3 looking at the driver in the 3 series wagon are you looking up or down?
Which vehicle would give a better view of the road ahead in traffic?
Which vehicle has more ground clearance?
If a X3 is just a bigger wagon, is an 18-wheeler just a biggerer wagon also?
Is a z4 just a tiny truck?
Is a sedan with fold down rear seats a sedan, a wagon, or is it a really small SUV?
Are all vehicles ever made really in the same "class" to be judged as head to head equivalents?
Is this conversation stupid or what?

I still think that a good approach is to decide what class of vehicle you want, be it a sedan, a wagon or a SUV. Then depending on your needs and wants, compare sedans with sedans, wagons with wagons, SUVs with SUVs, trucks with trucks ......... Depending on your particular needs, wants and budget, if you're looking for a sedan or wagon, a 3 or 5 series would be a good choice, and if you're looking for a SUV a X3 or X5 would be a good choice. I like all of them, but acknowledge that they are all very different vehicles serving different needs.
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  #14  
Old 03-16-2004, 08:49 PM
adgrant adgrant is offline
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Ok so now you are saying that sedans and wagons are different and that the main difference between a wagon and an SUV is ground clearance. I would agree with that but would point out that the Xi wagon has more ground clearance than the RWD version. Doesn't that make it an SUV then?

Also, if height of the driving position and the ability to fit your bicycle in the back is a criteria, is an AWD minivan also an SUV. Where does the Subaru Forester fit in?

BTW Several reviews of the X3 have compared it to the 325XiT wagon so I am not the only person who considers it a valid comparison.
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  #15  
Old 03-17-2004, 07:39 AM
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harplayr harplayr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adgrant
Ok so now you are saying that sedans and wagons are different and that the main difference between a wagon and an SUV is ground clearance.
That's absolutly not what I'm saying. At this point I really beleive that all you're trying to do is start a flame war. To me that is pointless. If you really can't see that there ARE different classes of autos, and different classes of autos should be judged within their respective classes, there is no way I can get you to see my point.

Please don't distort or pick apart my posts , and please agree to disagree and lets put an end to this silly discussion. We obvioulsy see things VERY differently, and endless discussions will not change either your or my point of view on this. GOODBYE ADGRANT.
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  #16  
Old 03-18-2004, 04:13 PM
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Goodbye Harplayr
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  #17  
Old 03-26-2004, 10:06 AM
BeyEhmVey BeyEhmVey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adgrant
... After the test drive we returned the key and a salesman asked me what I thought of the X3. I told him I preferred the 3 series because the X3 ride was too harsh and the cabin cheap looking. He did not disagree with my assessment...I agree with her (and some of the X3 reviews). The 325xiT is a better choice than an X3
Great review! What dealership? Ridgefield or somewhere else?

Did they say whether the X3 could pull a boat? I have been eyeballing them but your review makes me skittish. I like my 323i but this past winter has me wishing for something with better handling in adverse weather. Granted, I have driven SUVs for the past 14 years and always felt impervious to the weather and of course was always able to to pull my fishing boat.

The other option is an X5 of course. Need to take a look at that, granted when gasoline is hitting $2 a gallon and is only going to get higher I like my current fuel economy. Ahhh, the trade offs.

-Mark
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  #18  
Old 03-26-2004, 02:44 PM
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harplayr harplayr is offline
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Hi Mark,

Don't be too put off by one guy's opinion. I have a X3 and absolutely love it. I traded in my 325I for the X3, and in my opinion it is the closest thing to the feel of the 325 that I have tested in an SUV. It has met or exceeded all of my expectations. The build quality is excellant. The X5 is also a good choice, a bit more expensive, handles differently, cushy interior. Just depends on your personal tastes.

I would STRONGLY suggest you stop by a dealer and test drive one for yourself. As with any automobile ever made, some will like it and some will not. Yours is the only opinion that matters.

As far as towing goes I believe that the stats are posted on the BMW website. It should be able to tow a small boat. In the sales docs it lists towing capacity a 3500 pounds.
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Old 03-27-2004, 07:42 PM
BeyEhmVey BeyEhmVey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harplayr
Hi Mark,

Don't be too put off by one guy's opinion. I have a X3 and absolutely love it. I traded in my 325I for the X3, and in my opinion it is the closest thing to the feel of the 325 that I have tested in an SUV. It has met or exceeded all of my expectations. The build quality is excellant. The X5 is also a good choice, a bit more expensive, handles differently, cushy interior. Just depends on your personal tastes.

I would STRONGLY suggest you stop by a dealer and test drive one for yourself. As with any automobile ever made, some will like it and some will not. Yours is the only opinion that matters.

As far as towing goes I believe that the stats are posted on the BMW website. It should be able to tow a small boat. In the sales docs it lists towing capacity a 3500 pounds.
You are right - I will give it a shot and probably take the X5 out for a spin, too.
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  #20  
Old 03-28-2004, 05:43 AM
adgrant adgrant is offline
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You should definitely test drive the X3

But if your only issue with your 323i is the handling in adverse weather, you should check out the 325Xi. I had a 323i and switched to a 325Xi for exactly that reason. My opinions on the X3 are not going to be shared by everyone particularly any X3 owners. However, they are not unique to me. I have read several reviews that made similar points (check out Car And Driver).

I should mention that some people are quite happy with their RWD BMWs in the snow when the car has snow tires fitted.

I test drove the X3 at the Darian dealership. For the last car I bought, the Ridgefield dealership could not offer a better price and the location of the Darian dealer is much more convenient for me.

Last edited by adgrant; 03-28-2004 at 05:53 AM.
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  #21  
Old 03-28-2004, 11:31 AM
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harplayr harplayr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adgrant
My opinions on the X3 are not going to be shared by everyone particularly any X3 owners. However, they are not unique to me. I have read several reviews that made similar points (check out Car And Driver).
.

Yes, there are good and bad reviews. If you want a positive review check out the review on Edmunds.com website, which has a couple of in depth reviews, and is among many other positive "professional" reviews. Another a good source for information and discussion is on the bimmer.roadfly.org site. They have an active X3 forum there with lots of pros and cons. By all means do some research. Read all of the positive and negitive reviews you can find, weigh all of the pros and cons, but in the end use your own experience and judgement in making your choice.

I agree wiht Adgrant. The 330XI is a fantastic car! I have had them as loaners, and it captures all of the quality of the 330I with the additon of being all wheel drive. I hope that they will eventually put the X-Drive (next generation all wheel drive) in the 330XI which would make it even better than it already is. After spending time in an all wheel drive vehicle, I doubt that I'll ever buy an automobile without it. Unfortunatly the 330XIT was just too small for what I needed, so I went with the X3 which fit my needs better. My wife will be trading in her car next year, and even though it is nearing the end of it's production cycle, a 330XI is high on our list.

Buying a new car is a large investment, and there are a lot of great choices out there to fit almost any need. Have some fun and try them all!
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