Amanda Salas: The compact crossover category has gotten more popular over the last few years, but very few vehicles can promise luxury with all-road capability and great drivability. BMW calls the X3 a Sport Activity Vehicle or an SAV, as opposed to an SUV.
BMW designates this car as an xDrive28i, the "x" standing for all-wheel drive. There's also the xDrive35i, which has more horsepower..
Presilah Nuņez: And both X3 models use the same basic engine, BMW's three-liter inline-6. Made of magnesium and aluminum alloys, these are the world's lightest engines for their size, but they still make plenty of power. The xDrive28 gets 240 horsepower while the xDrive35's engine uses direct injection and turbocharging to deliver 300 horsepower.
Amanda: Short overhangs in the front and the rear, lots of glass, new sheetmetal with side accents and flared wheel arches. The BMW X3 promises a lot on the outside.
Presilah: Right, in fact the X3 is all new for 2011, and the interior is a major step up from the first X3s.
The X3 is the smallest of the BMW crossovers, with the other two being the X5 and the X6. But there's no shortage of room here, with rear seats that fold 60/40 to carry large loads. In fact, BMW claims it's the largest cargo space in its class.
Amanda: This upholstery is a soft, durable leatherette, standard, or you can have plush Nevada leather, optional. All materials in this car are top grade.
Presilah: And all of the best control and convenience features are present and accounted for. Eight-way power front seats, stereo sound with MP3 player, iPod, Bluetooth, USB, you name it.
Amanda: I would have to say that the instrumentation is very clear and legible and the center console very driver oriented. It has great navigation with a readable monitor. Like all BMWs, it has a sporty edge that's very driver focused.
For all their good looks and excellent road manners, BMWs are, at heart, performance cars-and this one is no exception. So, what are the numbers?
Presilah; The 28i will do 0 to 60 in under seven seconds. The turbo 35i does it in 5.5. Actually, there's a Sport package that's optional, and it promises 150 miles per hour - but we should probably save that for the autobahn.
Amanda: The steering is balanced, the brakes are great, and cornering is secure. For being so good on the pavement, you would never think you could take this car off-road, but you can.
Presilah: The xDrive divides engine torque 40/60 between the front and rear wheels, and it varies it when needed for best traction. Gas mileage is pretty respectable, too.
Amanda: Visibility is fine, although the D-pillar-the one in the back-can cause blind spots and block part of the driver's view.
Presilah: As good as it is, the BMW certainly has plenty of competition these days.
Amanda: The Audi Q5, Cadillac SRX, Volvo XC60 are also worth a look, too.
Presilah: The good news is, the xDrive28i is priced $2,000 less than last year's model. Even so, it easily tops $40,000, well equipped. And the 35i is $4,000 more. Included in that is free scheduled maintenance for four years or 50,000 miles.
Amanda: If an X3 is in your sights and you're not gonna be climbing any mountains, we recommend the xDrive 28i with the smaller engine. It still has plenty of oomph. But if you're a performance buff, the 35i is worth a test drive, too. Thanks for watching this New Car Review of the 2011 BMW X3 right here on Auto Trader, The Ultimate Automotive Marketplace.