By Vince Bodiford
BMW effectively invented the sport activity vehicle segment with the launch of the original BMW X3 back in 2003. In my opinion, the BMW X3 is among the best in the segment – not only because it’s a BMW, but for blending great styling with sufficient power, room for everyone and flexible utility for active lifestyles. X3 is an outstanding performing and driving machine – on top of its authentic utility.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price
2016 BMW X3 sDrive 28i – $38,950.00
(multiple models and options available)
Vehicle Model Road Tested: 2016 BMW X3 xDrive 28i AWD.
Engine: 2.0-liter In-line 4-cylinder gas engine, VANOS, Valvetronic, EFI Turbo.
EPA Fuel Economy Estimates: 21-mpg City, 28-mpg Highway.
Road test environment: Southern California streets and roads, including Pacific Coast Highway.
Vehicle Highs: Authentic utility for active lifestyles, there are tons of brilliant conveniences that make the X3 as handy as a Swiss Army knife, with the driving passion of a BMW. Legendary BMW brand and quality, and superior dealer network to back it up.
Vehicle Lows: It is priced higher than most rivals. I found the operation of the center-console mounted gear selector particularly aggravating, always forgetting to push the side button and slide the lever forward to select reverse, or push to top button down and the lever up to select park, and so on. There is a simpler way to do this, but BMW insists on the most counter-intuitive movements, not just on the X3, but every BMW gear selector is this way, likely as complicated as the control yoke of Boeing Dreamliner.
Vehicle Rivals: Porsche Macan, Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Acura RDX, Infinity QX50, Lexus NX.
Many new BMW models feature an 8-speed automatic transmission, which brings smooth shifting, sportiness and efficiency to new levels of perfection.
This new automatic’s attributes have been achieved via an innovative concept that provides the two additional ratios (7 and 8) with no increase in bulk or weight. In an arrangement never before employed in an 8-speed automatic, four planetary gear sets and five clutch packs are controlled in a way that no more than two of the five clutch packs are freewheeling at any given time.
The wider spread of ratios allows the engine to run at lower speeds, often in the “tallest” gear, 8th. Yet even with this wider spread, the steps between adjacent gears are reduced; in turn this means a stronger, smoother flow of power during acceleration. And for the same reason, faster shifts are a further benefit because only one clutch pack is disengaged to shift up or down by one or two gears.
Safety, comfort and infotainment.
The new BMW X3 sees BMW ConnectedDrive providing further evidence of its role in the link-up of the driver, vehicle and outside world. Among the outstanding new features from BMW ConnectedDrive is the latest, enhanced-capability generation of the Navigation system, complete with ECO PRO route guidance and an iDrive Controller with integrated touchpad. The touchpad allows drivers or passengers to use their finger to write letters for text inputs – a navigation destination, for example. Among the other systems available as an option to further enhance safety is Active Driving Assistant with ACC Stop & Go, which includes features such as Lane Departure Warning, Frontal Collision Warning, Pedestrian Warning, and City Collision Mitigation. Aiding comfort is the Parking Assistant, which automatically steers the vehicle into parking spaces parallel to the road.
The standard inclusion of the BMW Assist eCall function provides another boost to safety. This system springs into action automatically, as well as when help is summoned manually. As soon as the crash sensors report an airbag deployment, BMW Assist eCall uses the integrated SIM card to send the vehicle’s exact location along with all key information to the BMW call center, enabling rapid and effective assistance at the scene of the accident. BMW Assist eCall is now standard with 10 years of service.
Conclusion: The BMW X3 leads the pack of SUV’s in this segment. It will deliver years of driving service and utility, and its design will remain fresh long after the rivals look old and out of fashion. It sings every note out of the BMW playbook without missing a single key. Highly recommended.
Remember – Life’s a trip, Enjoy the drive! Always buckle everyone up and obey all traffic laws. This test vehicle road tested by a professional driver in a controlled environment. Vehicle specifications are provided by BMW and deemed accurate at the time of publishing.