2013 BMW X3 xDrive35i Road Test & Review: Introduction
Introduced to the United States in 2003 as a 2004 model, the BMW X3 Sports Activity Vehicle is based on the Bavarian manufacturer’s 3 Series line of sports sedans, This effectively brings that model’s agility, smoothness, and overall driving pleasure to the small SUV segment of the marketplace.
The second generation of the X3 bowed in 2010 as a 2011 model. At that point, BMW redesigned the X3 from the ground up. The second generation of the Baby Bimmer SAV was endowed with a larger body, more powerful engines, and a more comfortable ride. In fact, it was so much larger; it was nearly the size of the original version of its X5 sibling.
Two engines were offered at launch, a 240-horsepower/221 ft.-lb. 3.0-liter normally aspirated inline six, and a 300-horsepower/300 ft.-lb., turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six. A turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 240 horsepower and 260 ft-lbs of torque has since replaced the normally aspirated six.
What hasn’t changed is the remarkably smooth way the X3 goes down the road. One of the primary complaints about the first generation BMW X3 was how stiffly it rode. The BMW’s handling was universally praised, but it was accomplished at the expense of ride quality. This concern was addressed with the second-generation X3—along with the adoption of more spacious and comfortable interior.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves…
2013 BMW X3 xDrive35i Road Test & Review: Pricing and Trim Levels
As we mentioned before, there are two engine options offered for the BMW X3 in the United States. In typically Germanic fashion, the BMW’s engine choice also determines both the model designation and the trim level.
Standard features for the xDrive35i iteration of the X3 include: a set of 18-inch alloy wheels, darkened rear privacy glass, adaptive and auto-leveling xenon headlights, foglamps, automatic windshield wipers, a power-actuated liftgate, and cruise control.
You’ll also find a dual-zone automatic climate control system, eight-way power adjustable front seats with memory functions, wood trim, leatherette upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel.
The rear seats split 60/40 or, as an option you can get a 40/20/40 folding rear seat..
There is also Bluetooth telephony and audio streaming connectivity, the iDrive telematics interface system, and a 12-speaker sound system fed from a CD player. Completing the audio system are an auxiliary audio input port, HD radio, and an iPod/USB portable audio device interface.
The $44,700 2013 BMW X3 xDrive35i can be further enhanced with the addition of several option packages.
The $950 Cold Weather package includes: heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, retractable headlight washers, and heated rear seats.
The $2200 Premium Package features comfort access keyless entry, lumbar support, satellite radio with a one-year subscription, and a choice of five colors of leather upholstery.
The $950 Driver Assistance Package includes Park Distance Control, Lane Departure Warning, and a rearview camera. For an additional $350 it also includes a rearview camera with top view.
The $3000 M Sport Package features high-gloss roof rails of satin aluminum, an aerodynamic kit, and an M-sports leather steering wheel with paddle shifters. It also features 19-inch light alloy wheels, Dynamic Damper Control, an anthracite headliner, sports seats, Performance Control, and a choice of brushed aluminum; Fineline Sienna; or Fineline Wave wood trim.
The $1400 Dynamic Handling Package adds variable sports steering, and performance control.
The $3150 Technology Package adds a head up display, advanced real-time traffic information, BMW online services, a navigation system, enhanced USB and Bluetooth plus smart phone integration, BMW apps, and BMW emote services.
A number of stand alone items can also be added. For the complete list, visit BMW USA.com.
2013 BMW X3 xDrive35i Road Test & Review: Design
In typical BMW fashion, the exterior design of the X3 is at once elegant and sporty. The design incorporates a forward slanting version of the traditional BMW twin grilles framed by large round headlights and a sculpted hood.
The side view telegraphs power with the extra-large wheel openings, stuffed to filling with the 18-inch tire and wheel set. Contoured sculpting adds interest, while also creating a dynamic connection between the front and rear wheel arches. Remarkably, the look simultaneously says SUV and BMW in a quite unique fashion.
At the rear, surfaces are molded specifically to create attractive light and shadow effects, while the T-shaped taillights immediately tell you you’re looking at the back of a BMW X3. The overall design is quite cohesive and in fact makes the X3 look considerably smaller than it actually is.
2013 BMW X3 xDrive35i Road Test & Review: Comfort & Cargo
The 2013 BMW X3 xDrive35i, like all other BMW models was designed with long distance, high-speed driving in mind. To that end, the seating is remarkably firm and supportive. When you first settle into the seats, they may feel a bit hard. But over time, you come to appreciate their stiffness. This is because a firm seat enables your skeletal system to support your body—while a softer seat relies upon your musculature. This leads to fatigue over long distances.
The raised seating position afforded by the SUV profile of the X3 provides exceptional visibility all around. A nice byproduct of the new larger body is enhanced leg and shoulder room for all passengers. If required, the 2013 BMW X3 can comfortably seat five. Another plus is how easy it is to get in and out of the BMW.
One of the reasons the SUV has gained considerable popularity is its ability to carry lots of people and cargo. With the BMW X3, you get the best of both worlds. You can carry people and cargo when you need to, but you can also experience enjoyable driving dynamics. The rear seat folds to increase cargo capacity, while the rear hatch provides a large opening to make loading and unloading much easier. Further, the rear seats can be folded in sections to enable the transport of both cargo and people in the rear of the passenger compartment.
2013 BMW X3 xDrive35i Road Test & Review: Features & Controls
Seated behind the steering wheel, you'll notice the design of the dash caters specifically to the driver. The center stack is canted slightly toward the driving position to enable all of its controls and switches to be in easy reach of the operator of the 2013 BMW X3. The multi-adjustability of the driver seat ensures nearly everyone can find a comfortable driving position. This is enhanced by the tilt and telescoping steering wheel.
Buttons on the steering wheel offer control of the audio system, the telephone, cruise control, and certain trip computer functions—without removing your hands from the wheel. One of the things BMW has always been noted for is the crisp design of its instrumentation. Highly legible white lettering on a black background is illuminated with red light after dark to preserve the driver's night vision.
Falling readily to the driver’s right hand are the switches for the climate control system, audio system, and the iDrive Telematics interface. Everything is logically labeled, readily discernible, and operates intuitively. You never have to hunt for anything in a BMW; all of the secondary controls are exactly where you expect them to be. However, there is one thing we’d change. The button for the door locks, located as it is in the middle of the dash, makes it difficult to unlock the rear doors from outside the vehicle. If it were located on the driver's door, the way it is on most other cars, this would not be an issue.
While were on the subject of things we’d change, it would be really nice if BMW fell into line with the rest of the automotive world and made their manual shift function of the automatic transmissions downshift when pulled back, and upshift when pushed forward. BMWs logic is when you want to slow down you downshift and so therefore you push the lever forward. When you want to speed up you upshift and so you pull the lever back. Logical perhaps, but practically everybody else building cars does it the opposite way.
2013 BMW X3 xDrive35i Road Test & Review: Powertrain and Fuel Economy
There are few mechanical devices in life as sweet and smooth as a BMW in-line six-cylinder engine. When you add turbocharging, configured so turbo lag is completely eliminated, you get a really wonderful thing. Producing 300 horsepower and 300 ft-lbs of torque, the 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six endows the BMW X3 with considerable athleticism.
Graced with both direct fuel injection and variable valve timing, this engine, in addition to being state-of-the-art, is one of the finest automotive engines in production today. Generating power in an effortless fashion, it's almost a religious experience to run it to redline at full throttle. There is no discernible vibration, just a steady flow of power. The fluidity is positively uncanny. It's one of those things in life you have to experience to truly understand. It is also one of the reasons why the BMW stand at any auto show you will ever attend will be crawling with people
In addition to its prodigious power output, the engine is also quite efficient. Making it even more so is the addition of auto start/stop capability. This function turns off the engine when the X.3 comes to a stop. The engine then restarts automatically once the driver's foot is removed from the brake, or if the steering wheel is turned slightly. And as is expected of a BMW, the driver has a choice of whether or not to engage it. The system can be shut off at the touch of a button.
The EPA says to expect 19 miles per gallon form the X3 xDrive35i in the city, 26 miles per gallon on the highway, and 21 miles per gallon combined.
2013 BMW X3 xDrive35i Road Test & Review: Driving Impressions
BMW automobiles are all about driving fun, and the X3 lives well up to its familial reputation. Going down the street, an X3 is just as smooth as smooth can be. All of the controls operate as if they are thoroughly lubricated and precisely weighted. Steering, braking, and cornering are all accomplished with exceptional fluidity.
BMW says the engine is rated at 300 hp, however flat foot the throttle to the floor and you'll swear it makes at least 375 hp. The engine pulls just that strongly. And, with such ease you have to look down at the speedometer to see just how fast you're going. In fact, on the highway, the BMW X3 disguises speed so well you really have to pay attention to avoid traffic citations.
Looking at the tall profile of the BMW X3, you would expect a considerable amount of body roll when the vehicle is asked to change directions quickly. But you won’t get it. In fact, the X3 stays remarkably flat during dynamic maneuvers to greatly encourage sporty operation. With the X3, you really can have your cargo capacity, room for five passengers, and fun driving too.
2013 BMW X3 xDrive35i Road Test & Review: Safety Equipment
In addition to their exceptional over the road prowess, BMW models are quite safe. The automobiles routinely feature state-of-the-art safety gear. In the case of the X3, this includes a set of antilock disc brakes with an automatic brake drying feature. The braking system actually lightly applies the brake pads to the rotors ever so often in wet weather to keep them drier and ready for a panic stop.
The full complement of airbags includes front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. You'll also find active front-seat head restraints, stability control, and a hill descent control feature. Optional safety equipment includes a set of front and rear parking sensors, along with rear- and top-view parking cameras, as well as a lane-departure warning system.
The optional BMW Assist emergency communications system provides automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle recovery, and on-demand roadside assistance.
2013 BMW X3 xDrive35i Road Test & Review: Final Thoughts
With its handsome good looks, exceptional driving characteristics, commodious cargo area, spacious passenger compartment, and the cachet afforded the BMW logo, few sport-utility vehicles are as desirable as BMWs X3.
Granted, it's a bit on the pricey side, especially when you start adding in the options, but on the other hand BMW includes all regularly scheduled maintenance in the price of the automobile for four years or 50,000 miles—whichever comes first. Further, there is unlimited mileage roadside assistance and the BMW will tell you when it needs to go in for service.
The simple truth of the matter though is nothing else drives like a BMW. That's something you’ll either get or you won't. If you do, absolutely nothing else will satisfy you in the same way.
2013 BMW X3 xDrive35i Road Test & Review: Pros & Cons
• Handsome styling
• Spacious interior
• Incredible engine
• Exemplary driving manners
• Pricey, particularly when you start specifying options