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Sharper looks, sharper performance from BMW's second-smallest crossover

The X3 gains its first M Performance model, as well as a bevy of tech updates including gesture control.

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Andrew Krok
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Andrew Krok

Reviews Editor / Cars

Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.

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2018 BMW X3

2018 BMW X3

MSRP

The BMW X3 is one of the quintessentially American Bimmers, manufactured in Spartanburg, South Carolina alongside the X4, X5 and X6. For the 2018 model year, BMW has thrown a host of updates at its smallish utility vehicle, both inside and out.

Let's start outside: Its silhouette is largely similar. The headlights are a bit sharper, and are available with optional LED projectors. The LED taillights are slimmer too. While the overall length is about the same, the wheelbase is 2.2 inches longer, reducing overhangs and increasing interior space. It'll be the first BMW crossover in the US to come with a factory-installed 2-inch trailer hitch, too.

The interior isn't much different from what you'd find on any other new BMW model. There's a three-spoke steering wheel, a partially digital gauge cluster, a whole lot of hexagonal design elements and standard sport seats. Opt for the Luxury Package, and you can zhush up the look with an upholstered dashboard, along with two-tone finishers on the front and rear bumpers.

2018 BMW X3 packs first-ever performance model

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BMW saw fit to add some new creature comforts for those inside. Three-zone automatic climate control is available, and the rear seats can tilt individually. There's a remote release to fold the third row down, expanding cargo capacity from 28.7 cubic feet to 62.7. Ventilated seats are now an option, and the panoramic glass moonroof is 9.8 inches longer than it used to be. The extended ambient lighting package turns the interior into a Miami discotheque at nighttime in one of six different hues.

Don't think that BMW forgot about the in-car tech. The 2018 X3 packs the latest iteration of BMW's iDrive infotainment system. Opting for the full navigation package gives the driver a 10.25-inch touchscreen with a redundant physical controller on the center console. Gesture control from the 7 Series and 5 Series is optional, as is a head-up display that's 75 percent larger than before. Like the 5 Series, Apple CarPlay can be engaged wirelessly.

BMW's latest vehicles, including this X3, will be capable of sending one another messages about upcoming hazards with car-to-car communications. There's also a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capable of supporting up to 10 devices.

2018 BMW X3
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2018 BMW X3

Seriously, it's like a freakin' nightclub in here.

BMW

The base X3 xDrive30i comes with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged I4, good for 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Thanks to standard all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic, it'll hit 60 mph in 6.0 seconds and keep going up to 130 mph.

If that's not enough for you, BMW finally added an M Performance variant -- the X3 M40i. This one packs a 3.0-liter, turbocharged I6, with an output of 355 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. AWD and the eight-speed are still standard, but the 0-60 time drops to 4.6 seconds, and top speed jumps to 155 mph.

Pricing is not yet announced, but it will be revealed as we move closer to the 2018 X3's launch this November.