What Is It?
The BMW X3 is a compact crossover that slots between BMW's tiny X1 and the midsize X5. Offered with two rows of seats, the X3 boasts available 4- or 6-cylinder engines and traditional BMW styling, both inside and out.
The 2015 BMW X3 is similar to last year's model, with one very noticeable change: diesel power. In addition to the crossover's 2.0- and 3.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engines, drivers can now opt for the X3 xDrive28d, which uses a 2.0-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder. The new engine makes 180 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, and it should return the best fuel economy of any X3 powertrain.
Beyond the new engine, the 2015 X3 offers only minor changes. Chief among them is a newly available rear-wheel-drive version, providing a less-expensive, entry-level version for shoppers who don't need all-wheel drive. There's also a larger front grille, a new front bumper and mirror-mounted LED turn signals.
The X3 also offers a few changes inside. In addition to new center-console trim and updated seat designs, the crossover adds a long list of optional safety equipment, ranging from adaptive cruise control to lane departure warning and frontal collision warning.
For most X3 models, expect a slight bump over last year's pricing. The new entry-level, rear-wheel-drive model starts at around $40,000 with shipping, while the diesel model starts at $43,500 with destination. That puts the diesel between the 4-cylinder xDrive 28i and the 6-cylinder xDrive35i.
When Can You Get It?
Add It to Your Shopping List Because?
The X3 is already a strong contender in the compact crossover world thanks to excellent handling, strong resale value and a high-quality interior. The 2015 BMW X3 offers two new reasons to add it to your list: a base-level, rear-wheel-drive model that will bring prices down, and a fuel-efficient diesel option that will offer excellent fuel economy. As if that wasn't enough, the long list of newly available safety features is also enticing for any safety-minded driver.
Other Cars to Consider
Acura RDX -- Acura's compact RDX crossover has proven highly popular since its 2013 redesign. Priced lower than the X3, the RDX offers a muscular 273 hp and a long list of equipment, especially tech features. But there's no diesel, and the RDX won't match the X3's driving experience.
Mercedes GLK -- The GLK serves as the X3's chief rival. In addition to an available diesel option, the GLK boasts an excellent interior and enticing lease rates. Choosing between the two may come down to styling preferences or color availability.
Volvo XC60 -- The XC60 is less expensive than the X3, and it includes Volvo's automatic City Safety braking feature as standard equipment. But it uses an older design, and the powerful T6 model can get pricey.
Used BMW X5 -- If you need something a bit bigger than the X3, consider a pre-owned X5. While you generally can't lease pre-owned cars, shoppers looking to finance or pay with cash will find that recent pre-owned, larger BMWs cost roughly the same as new X3 models. Of course, the X5 offers similar styling and equipment along with a larger interior.