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2019 BMW X3: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Colin Ryan August 2018

The 2019 BMW X3 is the company's contender in the premium compact crossover/SUV class. This model year marks the second trip around the sun for the second generation. The first generation was an undeniable winner and this one is taking over where its predecessor left off.

The X3 is remarkably spacious and comfortable for its category, enjoys high levels of standard equipment, offers a choice of excellent engines and has that special BMW something that appeals to those who really like driving. The cabin is also full of quality materials and subtle luxury, while the options list includes up-to-the-minute technology. Admittedly, it's priced on the high side, but its still in the same ballpark as the best of the rest.

What's New for 2019?

A new entry-level model, the rear-drive sDrive30i, joins the range. Standard equipment expands to include forward-collision mitigation with pedestrian detection and parking sensors at both ends.

What We Like

Strong and efficient engines; plenty of passenger and cargo space for the segment; generous standard equipment; engaging M40i

What We Don't

Options are pricey; M40i's ride quality affected by poor pavement

How Much?

$41,995-55,645

Fuel Economy

X3 models ending with 30i have a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The sDrive version employs rear-wheel drive; the xDrive sees power going to all four wheels.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates the sDrive30i's fuel consumption at 23 miles per gallon in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined. The xDrive30i achieves 22 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined.

The M40i has a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 engine developing 355 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque, which goes to all four wheels. Despite this greater power, fuel consumption isn't much worse: 20 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined.

All X3 variants have an 8-speed automatic transmission (with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters and a launch mode) and their engines feature an automatic stop/start function (that can be turned off) to save a little fuel when idling. Active grille shutters help with the aerodynamics, while also allowing the engine to reach its optimum operating temperature in less time.

Standard Features & Options

The 2019 BMW X3 is available in sDrive30i, xDrive30i and M40i forms.

The sDrive30i ($41,995) comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED low beams/halogen high beams, LED daytime running lights/fog lights, roof rails, a powered tailgate, power-folding/heated side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, self-dimming rearview and driver's-side mirrors, a rearview camera, selectable driving modes, tri-zone automatic climate control, 8-way power-adjustable front seats (including bolsters) with driver's-side memory settings, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dark oak wood trim, 40/20/40-split/folding/reclining rear seats, simulated leather upholstery, front and rear parking sensors, forward-collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, iDrive electronics interface (central display and center console button-knob controller), two USB ports, a 12-speaker audio system and HD radio.

The xDrive30i ($44,295) has the same equipment, but adds all-wheel drive with hill-descent control.

An optional Convenience package adds adaptive LED headlights, keyless entry/ignition, a panoramic sunroof, 4-way adjustable lumbar support and satellite radio. The Premium package includes everything from the Convenience package plus a head-up display, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, navigation with real-time traffic updates, smartphone-based remote services and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration.

The Executive package includes everything from the Premium package, plus an all-digital instrument display, gesture control (enabling a small number of infotainment functions controlled by certain hand movements) and Parking Assistance (a 360-degree camera system, enhanced front/rear parking sensors and an automated parking feature).

The M40i ($55,645) adds the more powerful engine, sport exhaust, 19-in alloy wheels, upgraded brakes, sport-tuned suspension and variable-ratio steering, special M Sport styling, automatic high beams, 14-way power-adjustable front sport seats, hands-free tailgate operation and everything from the Convenience package.

The M40i's Premium package is essentially the same as the 30i's counterpart, but (front and rear) heated seats cost extra. The Executive package is also similar and requires selection of the Premium package.

All three models are eligible for a number of packages and individual options. The Driving Assistance package adds blind spot monitoring and lane-departure warning. The Driving Assistance Plus package can then be added on top of that, bringing adaptive cruise control with stop/go, active lane-keep assist, Traffic Jam Assist, front cross-traffic alert and evasive-action assistance. The Parking Assistance package is also available separately.

Many extras can be added individually (one of the many reasons why special-ordering a BMW is a good idea). Other options include a space-saver spare tire, ventilated front seats, rear sunshades, wireless smartphone charging, Wi-Fi and a Harman Kardon 16-speaker Surround Sound system. Each X3 may also come with an adaptive suspension, although tuning differs by model.

Safety

Every X3 comes standard with anti-lock brakes that automatically dry the pads in wet weather, plus front-side airbags, full-length side-curtain airbags and BMW Assist eCall emergency services, which includes automatic crash notification and an emergency services request button.

The X3 has not yet been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given the X3 its best accolade of Top Safety Pick+ after it earned maximum scores in every major category.

Behind the Wheel

Imagine a spectrum in relation to chassis-tuning and suspension setups, with "comfort" at one end and "sporty" at the other. Recent BMW vehicles, in general, have been tending to move more toward the comfortable, though they were once decidedly near the sporty end. There's still enough capability for an enthusiast to exploit, but it's just not quite as obvious as some BMW cars of old.

The upside is that the X3 can be a pleasant companion for day-to-day duties, but doesn't suddenly turn sloppy when the roads and conditions become more interesting. The entry-level 4-cylinder engine has plenty of punch, and most drivers may never need more. The M40i, however, is naturally the most thrilling variant, thanks to its potent engine, warbling exhaust note and sharper handling. It can sprint from standstill to 60 miles per hour in a blistering 4.6 seconds, yet it is only thirstier than the xDrive30i by a couple of miles per gallon. It doesn't cope with rough roads quite so well, though.

The X3's cabin offers generous rear passenger space, along with reclining rear seats, and the lower cushions are set a comfortable distance from the floor. The cargo area also enjoys a relatively square, functional space. Its maximum cargo volume of 62.7 cu ft. is among the segment's best, as is its 28.7 cu ft. when the rear seats are in place.

Interior quality and construction are top-notch, even if the design isn't as overtly stylish or luxurious as most competitors. The relationship between driver and controls/switchgear, including the latest iteration of BMW's iDrive infotainment system, is harmonious and well-considered. The only disappointment is making Apple CarPlay an option. Many manufacturers include it as part of the standard equipment.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Acura RDX -- All-new for 2019. Roomy and comes with a lot of equipment for the money, including many advanced safety features.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio -- Looks the part, drives the part. Not as spacious as the X3.

2019 Audi Q5/SQ5 -- A well-rounded and stylish package with impressive technology. The SQ5 is particularly tempting.

2019 Jaguar F-Pace -- Updated for 2019. Lots of passenger and cargo space encompassed within a well-designed body. Engines and suspensions are also top-class.

2019 Lexus NX -- Nicely put together, well-stocked interior, pleasant driving manners. A hybrid version is available.

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class -- Arguably more stylish and luxurious than the X3. The 362-hp AMG GLC 43 is a direct rival to the M40i.

2019 Volvo XC60 -- A new generation debuted for the previous model year. Smart, elegant styling inside and out, plus several attractive safety features.

Used Porsche Macan -- Handles more like a sport sedan than a crossover, and its styling is decidedly upscale. See if a certified pre-owned (CPO) model fits your budget.

Autotrader's Advice

The xDrive30i is probably the choice with the broadest appeal. The difference in fuel economy between this and the sDrive30i is hardly worth bothering about, and the extra security from AWD more than makes up for it. Stretch to the Driver Assistance Plus package.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2019 BMW X3: New Car Review - Autotrader