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BMW X3 gets its long-awaited update

BMW releases photos and specs for the 2011 BMW X3.

2011 BMW X3
BMW shows its new X3 crawling over rocks. BMW

At long last, BMW has updated the X3. For years we watched as other models received the attention of BMW's engineers, getting advanced engines, transmissions, and cabin tech. But each year the X3 was left ignored.

For 2011, the X3 gets new body styling, a new power train, and new cabin tech. It is an entirely different car than the model that launched in 2004. Under the hood, the X3 gets the latest twin-scroll turbocharged 3-liter inline six-cylinder engine, earning it the xDrive35i badge. That engine makes 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The eight-speed automatic is similar to what's now available in the BMW 5-series.

An active suspension helps keep the X3 stable while cornering, and a Performance Control feature applies braking to the inside rear wheel in a turn, helping the car rotate. Beyond road agility, BMW boasts of some off-road capability, and includes descent control on the X3.

The cabin tech package is similar to what we've seen on newer BMW models, including a hard-drive-based navigation system with maps that show 3D renderings of buildings on an 8.8 inch LCD.

BMW also announced a diesel version of the car, the xDrive20d, along with a six-speed manual transmission and a start/stop feature, which shuts off the engine at traffic stops. But these features may not be available in the U.S.