The 2020 BMW X3 secures its place in the upper tier of premium compact crossovers class by adding even more standard equipment. In addition to being remarkably spacious and comfortable compared to its rivals, the 2020 X3 has that certain something about BMWs that appeals to drivers. The vehicle offers a selection of great engines, its cabin is a mix of quality materials and subtle luxury and the options list includes some of the latest technology.
This review deals with the third model year of the second X3 generation. There’s also a 2020 BMW X3 M with 473 hp, which is reviewed separately. Admittedly, the X3 is priced on the high end, but it’s still in the same fiscal ballpark as the best of the rest.
What’s New for 2020?
A one-year subscription to Apple CarPlay smartphone integration is now included as standard. BMW’s Live Cockpit Plus (digital driver information display) with navigation is also now standard along with LED headlights, the Connected Plus package (which features greater communication between the car and the user’s iPhone) and the Galvanic Package (a cosmetic treatment for some controls). The M40i version has a more feature-rich configuration of the Live Cockpit and Connected setups. See the 2020 BMW X3 models for sale near you
What We Like
- Strong and efficient engines
- Plenty of passenger and cargo space for the segment
- Generous standard equipment
- The engaging M40i
What We Don’t
- Options are pricey
- M40i’s ride quality can be affected by poor pavement
- No Android Auto
$42,945 to $56,895
X3 models ending with 30i have a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The sDrive version employs rear-wheel drive, and the xDrive has power going to all four wheels.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates the sDrive30i’s fuel consumption at 25 miles per gallon in the city, 29 mpg on the highway and 27 mpg for combined driving. The xDrive30i achieves 24 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined. The M40i has a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 engine that produces 355 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque, which goes to all four wheels. Despite the increase in power for this model, fuel consumption isn’t much worse at 21 mpg city/27 mpg highway/23 mpg combined.
All X3 variants have an 8-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters and a launch mode. Their engines feature an automatic stop/start function that can be turned off to save fuel as it idles. Active grille shutters help with the aerodynamics and allow the engine to reach its optimal operating temperature in the shortest possible time.
Standard Features & Options
The 2020 BMW X3 is available in sDrive30i, xDrive30i and M40i configurations.
The sDrive30i ($42,945) comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights/daytime running lights/fog lights, roof rails, a powered tailgate, power-folding/heated side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, self-dimming rearview and driver-side mirrors, selectable driving modes, tri-zone automatic climate control, 10-way power-adjustable front seats (including bolsters) with driver-side memory settings, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dark oak wood trim, 40/20/40-split folding and reclining rear seats, simulated leather upholstery, an all-digital instrument display, navigation, parking sensors in the front and rear, forward-collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, an iDrive electronics interface (featuring an 8.8-in infotainment touchscreen and a button-knob controller in the center console), two USB ports, a 12-speaker audio system and HD radio.
The xDrive30i ($44,945) has the same equipment but adds AWD with hill descent control. An optional Convenience package adds keyless entry/ignition, a panoramic sunroof, 4-way adjustable lumbar support and satellite radio. The Premium package includes a heads-up display, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and more sophisticated smartphone-based remote services.
The Executive package includes everything from the Premium package plus gesture control (which allows some infotainment functions to be controlled by hand movements), Parking Assistance with a 360-degree camera system, enhanced front/rear parking sensors, and an automated parking feature, ambient cabin lighting and automatic high beams.
The M40i ($56,895) adds the more powerful engine, sport exhaust, 19-in alloy wheels, upgraded brakes, a sport-tuned suspension, variable-ratio steering, a 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 heated seats in the front and rear cost extra. The Executive package is similar and requires the Premium package selection.
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 be added on top of that to bring adaptive cruise control with stop/go, active lane-keeping assistance, Traffic Jam assistance, front cross-traffic alerting and evasive action assistance. The Parking Assistance package is also available separately.
Many extras can be added individually, which is one of several reasons why special-ordering a BMW is a good idea. Other options include a space-saving spare tire, ventilated front seats, rear sunshades, wireless smartphone charging, wi-fi and a Harman Kardon 16-speaker surround-sound system. X3s may also come with adaptive suspension, although tuning differs by model.
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) gave the X3 its highest accolade of Top Safety Pick Plus after it earned maximum scores in every major category.
Behind the Wheel
Imagine a spectrum of chassis tuning and suspension setups that has "comfort" at one end and "sporty" at the other. Recent BMW vehicles have generally tended toward comfort where they were once decidedly closer to the sporty end. There’s still enough capability for an enthusiast to exploit — it’s just not quite as obvious as with some BMW cars of old.
The upside is that the X3 can be a pleasant companion for day-to-day duties, but it doesn’t suddenly turn sloppy when road conditions become more interesting. The entry level 4-cylinder engine has plenty of punch, and most drivers won’t need more. However, the M40i is naturally the most thrilling variant thanks to its potent engine, warbling exhaust note and sharper handling. It has a blistering 0-to-60 mph time of 4.6 seconds, but it’s only thirstier than the xDrive30i by a couple mpg. It doesn’t cope with rough roads quite as well, though.
The X3’s cabin offers generous rear passenger space as well as reclining rear seats. The lower cushions are set at a comfortable distance from the floor. The cargo area also enjoys a relatively square and functional space. Its maximum cargo volume of 62.7 cubic feet is among the segment’s best — as is its 28.7 cubic feet of space with the rear seats in place.
The interior quality and construction are top-notch, even if the design isn’t as overtly stylish or luxurious as those of its rivals. The relationship between the driver and the controls and switchgear is harmonious and well-considered, especially with regard to BMW’s latest iDrive infotainment system.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Acura RDX – The new Acura RDX is roomy and comes with a lot of equipment for the money, including many advanced safety features.
2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio – The new Alfa Romeo Stelvio looks the part and drives the part. It’s not as spacious as the X3, though.
2020 Jaguar F-Pace – The Jaguar F-Pace has plenty of passenger and cargo space contained in its a well-designed body. The engines and suspension are also at the top of the class.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class – The GLC-Class is arguably more stylish and luxurious than the X3. The 385-hp AMG GLC 43 is a direct rival to the M40i. The vehicle has been updated for 2020 as well.
2020 Volvo XC60 – The 2020 XC60 has smart, elegant styling inside and out in addition to several attractive safety features.
Used Porsche Macan – The Porsche Macan handles more like a sport sedan than a crossover, and its styling is decidedly upscale. See if a certified pre-owned model fits your budget.
With 248 hp and AWD, the X3 xDrive30i has sufficient power and sure-footedness to have a broad appeal — the slightly higher fuel consumption is negligible. Try to add as many driver-assistance features as you can to take advantage of the vehicle’s strengths. Find a BMW X3 for sale