- Compact luxury crossover/SUV, fits in between the X1 and the X5
- Two engine options (four-cylinder and six-cylinder, both turbocharged) and an eight-speed automatic transmission
- Standard all-wheel drive
One of the most dynamic compact luxury crossovers around, the 2014 BMW X3 offers SUV utility and practicality with the dynamic handling and ride expected of a BMW. The X3 competes in one of the most crowded luxury segments, with vehicles like the Acura RDX, Cadillac SRX, and Audi Q5.
The X3’s styling will look familiar, as all three of BMW’s SUV offerings carry much of the same design characteristics – kidney grille, sculpted hood, and a prominent lower front air dam. 18-inch alloy wheels are standard with 19-inch wheels optional. A power liftgate is standard for added convenience and easier loading. A panoramic moonroof, adaptive xenon headlights, and headlight washers are optional. Also offered is an M Sport Package that makes the X3 look even more aggressive.
Last year, the X3 got a brand-new turbocharged four-cylinder which carries over into 2014. BMW divides the X3 into two trims, each of which gets its own turbocharged mill. The xDrive28i is the base trim and features a new 240-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 260 pounds-feet of torque. Step up the xDrive35i and you’ll get a 300-horsepower, turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder that makes 300 pounds-feet of torque. Both trim levels get an eight-speed automatic transmission and xDrive all-wheel drive which features a 60/40 rear torque bias for a sportier feel. Also included is BMW’s auto start-stop technology, which shuts down the engine at stoplights to save fuel.
Fuel economy figures are fairly close between the two trims, with the xDrive28i getting an estimated 21/28 mpg city/highway and the xDrive35i rated at 19/26 mpg city/highway.
Although it’s a compact luxury crossover, much effort has still been expended to make sure that usable space is maximized. A 40/20/40-split folding rear seat offers more cargo flexibility. And the optional storage package helps to secure items by providing cargo rails, hooks in the rear cargo area so bags don’t slide around, and cargo nets. The interior styling is also classic BMW, simplicity without much color or drama, but does include some of the latest technology found in cars today, including an electronic shifter and BMW’s iDrive system. Standard interior features include leatherette seating surfaces, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way powered front seats, HD radio, iPod/USB adapter, and Bluetooth connectivity. Options include heated front seats and steering wheel, backup camera, and a navigation system which adds a large 8.8-inch LCD screen above the center console.
The 2014 X3 received a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS for its performance in crash tests. Six airbags, an electronic stability system, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, and traction control are standard. An optional driver assistance package adds safety technology like lane departure and front collision warning, automatic high beams, and a head-up display.