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2021 BMW X3 vs. 2021 Lexus NX: Which Is Better?

The 2021 BMW X3 is BMW’s best-selling crossover/SUV, while the 2021 Lexus NX offers a mix of luxury and space aged looks.  Which is better?

Quick Facts

  • BMW X3: Revamped in 2018, it’s continually updated to keep abreast of the competition.
  • Lexus NX: Reliability meets high resale value in one space-aged looking package.

2021 BMW X3

2021 BMW X3

2021 BMW X3 starting price: $43,995 / Read our 2021 BMW X3 Review

What we like: Strong and efficient engines; generous standard equipment; plenty of passenger and cargo space; engaging enthusiast M40i model

What we would change: Lower BMW’s proud price points; improve M40i ride quality over poor pavement

Overview: The BMW X3 is the best-selling BMW, period. It ranks among a smart class of SUVs that include models from Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Lexus and Acura. Solid technology and sales numbers help to keep it a class-leader.

Refreshed in 2018, the X3 is continually improved for freshness. A plug-in hybrid and high-performance X3 M joined its ranks last year. What separates the X3 from its competition is the sports sedan handling of a BMW 3 Series with the practicality of an SUV.

What’s new for 2021: Android Auto is now part of the BMW X3’s technology mix, and the 2021 X3 also gets a one-year subscription to Sirius XM satellite radio. Now standard on xDrive30e  (AWD) and M40i models is Live Cockpit Pro which bundles the digital instrument cluster with a larger touchscreen. The Active Driving Assist package is now standard. The trailer hitch prep option is no more, but a trailer hitch is still available.

Features and technology: Start with a base 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 producing 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. BMW X3 models with sDrive in their name are rear-wheel-drive, while xDrive signifies AWD. There is an uprated BMW X3 M40i with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline 6 engine producing 355 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels.

For those who are trying to gain green cred, the xDrive30e is the first plug-in hybrid version of the X3. Powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 with an electric motor-generator and lithium-ion battery combo, it can travel up to 18 miles on pure electric before the gas engine kicks in.

Finally, supreme power users can make use of the high-performance X3 M. A twin-turbo inline-6 cylinder engine, it makes 473 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque. Need more? Order the competition package, which boosts the output an additional 30 horses for a total of 503 hp.

All models use an 8-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Premium and Executive packages are available and include such niceties as a panoramic sunroof, heads-up display, Live Cockpit Pro with 10.25-inch display, a 360-degree Parking Assistance package and more.

What does the future hold: All-electric iX3 model will soon begin production. According to some BMW rumor sources, expect a refreshed (conventional) X3 with new grille to reveal itself sometime in 2021 as a 2022 model. Find a 2021 BMW X3 for sale near you

2021 Lexus NX

2021 Lexus NX

2021 Lexus NX starting price: $39,225 / Read our 2021 Lexus NX Review

What we like: Luxury, safety and reliability in one good-looking package; excellent dealer experience; great resale value; NX 300 F-Sport and NX 300h hybrid also available. AWD is optional

What we would change: Improve driving experience to match European competitors

Overview: Good looking with a sense of purpose, the 2021 Lexus NX luxury compact crossover SUV features the latest design language from Toyota’s luxury division. The NX is delivered with a long list of standard features, competitive pricing and a well thought out interior. The brand’s impeccable reputation for strong sales and great reliability, make it easy to consider.

What’s new for 2021: Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert are now standard, along with power-folding side mirrors, and wipers that are newly redesigned. New Black Line Special Edition joins the family.

Features and technology: Following the brand’s cues for luxury and reliability, the Lexus NX includes plenty of technology and style to boot. Both NX and NX F-Sport are powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 producing 235 horsepower and mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. NX 300h features hybrid 2.5-liter inline-4 with electric motor-generator that combines to provide 194 net horsepower. Power delivery to the AWD system occurs with continuously variable transmission with step-down mode.

Inside, build quality is flawless. Technology includes an 835-watt Mark Levinson audio system with 14 speakers and Harman/Kardon Clari-fi technology to restore audio quality from compressed digital music files.

What does the future hold: According to Japanese auto magazines, rumors suggest the 2022 model will be all-new with a choice of three powertrains. Find a 2021 Lexus NX for sale near you

X3 vs. NX: Strengths Comparison

BMW X3 benefits: Sporty “Ultimate Driving Machine” ethos makes the X3 the “3 Series of SUVs.” Variety of models gives choice to many buyers.

Lexus NX benefits: The Lexus NX is not too big, or not too small; easy to live with.

2021 BMW X3 vs. 2021 Lexus NX: Which is better?

The BMW X3 offers “get-there-fast” looks and styling. The Lexus NX is loaded with reliability, good resales and luxury. We like to go fast. For that reason, our choice is the BMW X3. Find a 2021 BMW X3 for sale or Find a 2021 Lexus NX for sale

2021 BMW X3 2021 Lexus NX
Popular Powertrains
Engine 2.0-liter turbo inline-4 2.0-liter turbo inline-4
Horsepower 248 hp @ 5,200 rpm 235 hp @ 4,800 rpm
Torque 258 lb-ft @ 1,450 rpm 258 lb-ft @ 1,650 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic 6-speed automatic
Fuel Economy 25 mpg (23 city/29 highway) 25 mpg (22 city/28 highway)
Also Available AWD; hybrid model; X3 M performance models  AWD; hybrid model; luxury trim levels
Warranty 4 years/50,000 miles 4 years/50,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 4 years/50,000 miles 6 years/70,000 miles
NHTSA Safety Rating 5 star 5 star
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 112.8 inches 104.7 inches
Overall Length 185.9 inches 182.7 inches
Width 74.4inches 73.6 inches
Height 66.0 inches 64.8 inches
Turning Diameter 39.4 feet 37.4 feet
Headroom, Front 41.1 inches 38.2 inches
Headroom, Rear 39.1 inches 38.1 inches
Legroom, Front 40.3 inches 42.8 inches
Legroom, Rear 36.4 inches 36.1 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 57.6 inches 57.3 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 56.0 inches 55.3 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 101.4 cubic feet 71.6 cubic feet
Cargo Volume 28.7 cubic feet/62.7 cubic feet 17.7 cubic feet/54.6 cubic feet



Mark Elias
Mark Elias
Mark Elias is a writer and photographer specializing in automotive topics ranging from new and used cars to classics and motorsports. His first car was a Matchbox Jaguar D-Type. From there, things have only become larger. During his professional career, he has been a staff photographer for the Associated Press, a contract photographer for Bloomberg News, and a contributor to automotive outlets... Read More about Mark Elias

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