The BMW X3 has been on sale since the 2004 model year. For 2019, the compact crossover enters the second year of its third generation. In BMW's lineup, it slots between the X1 subcompact crossover and the X5 midsize SUV, the latter of which is manufactured alongside the X3 in Greer, South Carolina.
Powertrain and specs
BMW offers two engines for the X3. For starters, there's a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that pumps out 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque to either the rear or all four wheels.
Power-hungry buyers can step up to the 3.0-liter, turbocharged inline-six in the X3 M40i model that's good for 355 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque, routed exclusively to all four wheels. Regardless of engine choice, all X3s channel their power through an eight-speed automatic transmission that can be controlled via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
The most fuel-efficient X3 with 2.0-liter power and rear-wheel drive will return an EPA-estimated 23 miles per gallon in the city and and 30 mpg highway. With all-wheel drive, EPA figures go down to 22/29 mpg. The six-cylinder version drops fuel economy to 20/27 mpg.
In its most efficient form, the X3 is more miserly than competition like the Mercedes-Benz GLC (22/28 mpg), Audi Q5 (23/27 mpg), Volvo XC60 (22/28 mpg) and Acura RDX (22/28). Even the six-cylinder X3 M40i's fuel economy is in the ballpark with its four-cylinder foes. When compared with the six-cylinder Mercedes-AMG GLC43 at 18/24 mpg, though, the X3 M40i is clearly an efficiency winner.
BMW's compact SUV offers plenty of room for up to five passengers and all their gear. Cargo capacity is 28.7 cubic feet behind the rear seats. With the second row folded, storage bumps up to 62.7 cubic feet of space, which is a little less than the Volvo XC60 at 63.3 cubic feet, but more than the Acura RDX at 58.9, Audi Q5 at 60.4 and Mercedes-Benz GLC at 56.5 cubic feet.
In opposition to being at or near the top of the compact crossover class in most categories, when it comes to standard tech, the BMW X3 is at the bottom of the class. With zero option boxes ticked, you get standard Bluetooth streaming, a 6.5-inch touchscreen that's also controlled by BMW's iDrive and that's about it. Even satellite radio is an option.
Android Auto isn't available and if you want Apple CarPlay, that's part of a pricey package that bundles a subscription-based version of the phone integration. The first year is free, but you'll have to pay $80 a year to keep using it after that. Other vehicles in this class typically come with larger touchscreens as well as standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
With standard collision-mitigation braking and a driver focus monitor, which are also both standard on the Mercedes-Benz GLC, the X3's safety tech is more plentiful than its interior tech. Audi's Q5 only comes with collision-mitigation braking, while the Acura RDX and Volvo XC60 are much more equipped with driver-assistance features such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist.
Options and pricing
BMW offers the X3 in three variants. The four-cylinder, rear-drive X3 sDrive30i starts at $41,000. The X3 xDrive30i is all-wheel drive and starts at $43,000. The much more caffeinated six-cylinder, all-wheel-drive X3 M40i is priced from $54,650. All prices exclude $995 for destination.
Four cylinder models bundle their optional extras into three tiers. The $2,850 Convenience Tier adds a panoramic sunroof, adaptive LED headlights, keyless access, a free year of satellite radio and lumbar support.
For another $3,400, the Premium Tier adds that one-year trial of Apple CarPlay, a heated steering wheel, embedded navigation, heated front seats, head-up display and remote app control of selected vehicle functions such as the door locks, headlights and climate control.
The top Executive Tier adds another $3,500 and includes all-LED headlights with automatic high beams, ultrasonic parking sensors, a digital instrument cluster, surround-view monitor and Parking Assistant Plus, which can steer you into parallel parking spaces.
Both four- and six-cylinder X3s offer a $500 Driving Assistance Package that adds lane-departure warning, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. All X3s also offer a $1,700 Driving Assistance Plus Package that adds adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and front cross-traffic alert.
On the X3 M40i, $3,050 gets you the Premium Package, and another $2,550 gets you the Executive Package, both of which include pretty much the same bundles of options you get with the Premium and Executive Tiers on four-cylinder X3s.
Standalone options include a 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system for $875, a $500 Wi-Fi hotspot bundled with wireless phone charging, rear-window shades for $250 and a $550 trailer hitch. With every option box ticked, you can get an X3 M40i to $69,225.
The 2019 BMW X3 is on sale nationwide now.