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X3 F25 (2011 - 2017)
The second generation X3 added style and new features to the BMW's mid-sized SUV. Talk about the BMW F25 X3 with other X3 owners now!

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Old 08-12-2013, 12:54 PM
DTB1970 DTB1970 is offline
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Location: Atlanta
Join Date: Aug 2013
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Mein Auto: 2011 BMW X5 35i Premium

Hi all, I'm new here with my new-to-me 2011 X5 35i Premium.

Loving the car (4th BMW, first SAV), but noted something in the manual that I didn't like seeing... "Do not drive on unpaved surfaces"... while I certainly have no intention of trying to climb fire roads, trails, and boulders with it (which is what I've seen most of the offroad discussion here on the boards centering around), what I'd like to know is if I really risk damaging the car (as the manual says) by driving it on, say, a gravel road, or a relatively well-kept dirt road... both qualify as unpaved surfaces, so I wanted to be sure before I caused any unfortunate circumstances to occur. Thanks for any thoughts!

Edit: Sorry, wrong forum. Reposted in X5 forum, not sure how to delete this one.

Last edited by DTB1970; 08-12-2013 at 01:12 PM.
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Old 08-13-2013, 12:07 AM
KrisNL KrisNL is offline
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Mein Auto: BMW X3 28i
This is the X3 board
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Old 08-13-2013, 06:36 AM
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Liverman Liverman is offline
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Location: Teller County, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Mein Auto: '14 X3 35i / '03 F350
The question applies to the X3 as well.

The Xs were designed with travel on unpaved surfaces in mind. Heck, my driveway is 1/4 mile long and unpaved. Most of the roads in my county are unpaved.

They have an "off road" course at the Performance Center in Spartanburg.

The key items to pay attention to are:
  • No low range
  • No skid plates (but there are heavy plastic underbody panels to keep rocks and such out)
  • Limits on clearance and water depth (varies by X model and year)
  • Tires - tread pattern
  • No spare if you slash a tire on sharp rocks
I have taken both my E83 and F25 on some unpaved mountain pass roads and trhey did fine. Even with the underbody panels there are exposed components (such as the gizmo that attaches to the steering that automatically levels the xenon headlights) that are relatively easily damaged by an errant stick, branch or rock that are often encountered in rougher or narrower unpaved roads.

So last week I took my X halfway up Ophir Pass in the high San Juans of Colorado. The west side was reported to have some washouts that would have challenged the clearance on my F25, so I continued on to Telluride via Ouray . But it did just fine on the east side. I took it slow since I did not know the road surface and did not want an errant rock kocking out the headlight leveling gizmo. or something else. With a jeep I would have been moving much faster.

Our BMW: '14 X3 35i, Deep Sea Blue, Black Nevada Leather, Fineline Wave Wood, Satin Aluminum Roof Rails, Premium Pkg, Cold Weather Pkg, Navigation System, Driver Assistance Pkg with ALL them cameras, Premium Sound
Our truck: '03 Ford F350, 7.3L turbo-diesel, 4WD, Lariat package, Lear topper, cow catcher, Blue over Grey (Go Rice!)

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Old 08-13-2013, 07:42 AM
UncleJ UncleJ is offline
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Mein Auto: '09 Cayenne "S"
The E83 had a spring problem in which a disturbing number of cars experienced broken pigtails on the coils. While not generally a vehicle immobilizing event -- indeed many owners never knew the springs had broken until something else called their attention to it -- it does (at least in my mind) illustrate that these are not robust suspensions. I am sure that the new X3 is capable of handling light (unpaved roads, graded fire trails etc.) off road duty, especially with the proper tires and driving slowly over the bad spots. However they are not on a par with the Jeep/LR/Toyota SUV types, nor the heavy duty 4X4 pickups with serious off road capable suspensions IMHO.
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