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2011 BMW X3 (photos)

BMW has finally updated the X3. This model has sat fallow while every other model benefited from BMW's newest cabin and and engine technology. But now the X3 catches up with the rest.

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Wayne Cunningham

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It has been a long time since its introduction in 2004, but BMW is finally updating its X3. Its new body styling keeps it in line with BMW's current design language, and it picks up some of BMW's latest power train and cabin technologies. The way in which the headlight casings dip in toward the grille mirrors the front-end look of BMW's newest sedans.
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The deep contour line down the side of the X3 also reflects BMW's current style. The new X3, in xDrive35i trim, gets the same twin scroll turbocharged 3-liter six-cylinder engine that the 335i and 535i have. Making 306 horsepower, the X3 sprints to 62 mph in 5.7 seconds. BMW is also making a turbocharged four-cylinder diesel version, the xDrive20d, but we do not expect it will be offered in the U.S.
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As a BMW X model, the X3 comes standard with always-on all-wheel-drive. You can also choose to equip the car can with an active suspension system, similar to that found currently in BMW sedans. An optional Performance Control feature that applies braking to the inside rear wheel in a turn, making the car rotate more quickly, is also available.
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The X3 is one of the first BMW vehicles to get electric power steering. Its cabin tech includes the 8.8-inch LCD we've seen in other new BMW models and a hard drive-based navigation system. The navigation system's maps show detailed 3D rendering of some urban areas.
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The X3 comes with an eight-speed-automatic transmission, similar to what we saw in the 550i Gran Turismo. The transmission's tall gears give the X3 an average 27 mpg in the European test cycle. Buttons next to the shifter change the driving dynamics between Comfort, Normal, Sport, and Sport Plus modes.
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As with other new BMWs, the X3 has regenerative braking capability that is used to recover some kinetic energy to help charge its batteries. A Start/Stop feature turns off the engine when the car is stopped in traffic, although this feature may not be available in the U.S. version of the car.
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BMW offers this smartphone cradle, although the car also comes with a USB-based iPod connector.

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