2006 BMW X3 SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2006 BMW X3 SUV

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
BMW X3 Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.0 L Inline 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 225 hp @ 5900 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 15/23 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2006 BMW X3

  • Looking for a small SUV that performs like a sport sedan? The 2006 BMW X3 shouldn't disappoint, so long as you don't mind its big price tag and unusually firm ride.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Nimble handling, precise steering, comfortable cabin, solid build quality, good cargo capacity for its size.

  • Cons

    Overly stiff ride, expensive for a compact sport-ute, some economy-grade interior materials.

  • What's New for 2006

    For 2006, BMW has discontinued the base 2.5i model.

Full 2006 BMW X3 Review

What's New for 2006

For 2006, BMW has discontinued the base 2.5i model.


Based on the previous-generation 3 Series sedan, the BMW X3 is a downsized version of the X5 that promises similar levels of sportiness and utility. It has a high seating position, all-weather traction and just enough sharp edges to give it a look all its own. Add in plenty of bulletproof hardware from the 3 Series lineup, and indeed the X3 has all the makings of a very popular compact luxury SUV.

The BMW X3 features a full-time all-wheel-drive system dubbed xDrive. With the ability to detect slippage and redirect power to the wheels with the most traction, this system gives the compact BMW SUV outstanding handling in both wet and dry situations. In addition to all-weather capability, the X3 features a commanding view from the driver seat along with ample passenger and cargo room. Numerous storage spaces are sprinkled throughout the interior for added versatility, and the X3 can accommodate multiple mountain bikes, according to BMW. Like its 3 Series cousins, the X3 sports a stylish interior highlighted by large analog gauges and high-quality switchgear.

Unfortunately, not all of the materials used in the cabin meet premium standards set by the 3 Series, so those expecting an upscale environment may be disappointed. The BMW X3 is one of the few compact sport-utilities with a luxury-brand nameplate. Although we hesitate to recommend that anyone spend close to $40,000 on a small SUV, the X3's package of style, performance and day-to-day functionality could be compelling for shoppers who want a 3 Series sedan but need more cabin space and utility. It's certainly not a traditional SUV by any means, but if you like the way the 2006 BMW X3 looks on paper, you're most certainly going to like the feeling behind the wheel.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The BMW X3 is a compact five-passenger SUV that comes in one trim level, the 3.0i. Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, leatherette (vinyl, that is) upholstery, full power accessories, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, a CD player and keyless entry. BMW offers three main option packages: Premium, Sport and Cold Weather. The Premium Package is highlighted by leather upholstery and an auto-dimming rearview mirror, while the Sport Package includes a sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels with performance tires and sport seats. The Cold Weather Package combats snowy climates with heated front seats and heated washer jets. Other popular options include a DVD-based navigation system, adaptive HID headlights and rear parking sensors.

Powertrains and Performance

The X3 gains motivation through a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that generates 225 hp and 214 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while a five-speed Steptronic automatic is optional. Also standard is an all-wheel-drive system dubbed xDrive that automatically distributes power to the wheels with the most traction for optimum performance in all conditions.


The BMW X3 features standard four-wheel antilock disc brakes, stability control, Hill Descent Control (HDC) and a full complement of front, side and side curtain airbags. Torso-protecting side airbags for rear passengers are optional.

Interior Design and Special Features

The X3's interior is instantly recognizable as a BMW. Large analog gauges greet the driver, and the supportive seats provide a commanding view of the road. The audio and climate controls are more complex than we would like, but the overall look is very clean and uncluttered. Unfortunately, not all of the materials are up to the premium standards set by the 3 Series, giving the BMW X3 a more economy-grade feel than its price tag would indicate. The X3 offers 33 cubic feet of cargo capacity behind its 60/40-split rear seat. Lower the seat and BMW's compact SUV provides 71 cubic feet of space, slightly more than the midsize X5. Adjustable tie-down points in the cargo bay make it easy to secure your load.

Driving Impressions

It may look like an SUV but it sure doesn't drive like one. Much like its bigger brother, the BMW X3 feels more like a sporty sedan behind the wheel than a lumbering off-road machine. Typically precise steering combined with a tightly controlled suspension and perfect traction results in a BMW SUV that gives up little in the way of driving dynamics. The downside to this is that the ride quality can be overly stiff, especially on vehicles equipped with the Sport Package. However, if you're looking for the closest thing to a sports car with a high seating position, the 2006 BMW X3 is your vehicle.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Manual transmission and sunroof

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Vehicle: 2006 BMW X3 3.0i 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6M)

My wife and I traded in our car with our baby on the way and wanted an SUV that had both a manual transmission and a sun roof. NO new cars come with both so We picked up our 2006 X3 with 68K and now have about 77K after almost a year and absolutely love it! The storage in the back is a little tight but the movable tie downs are great. We ended up buying the crossbars for the roof so we can put a cargo box on top for our annually beach vacation. Worked wonderfully. Gas mileage has been pretty good, with summer gas and a trip to north western pa (No roof rack) we managed between 25-26mpg 85-90% highway. Around town we get anywhere from 18-21, depending on who's driving.

11 of 26 people found this review helpful

Very good cpo buy

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Vehicle: 2006 BMW X3 3.0i 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6M)

I bought this 4 yr old X3 in August and so far it is a very good small suv. The tranny is ultra smooth, the engine is smooth & torquey. Steering is BMW excellent. Build quality is very good. Consumer Reports gives it a best buy for the '06 yr & good reliability or I wouldn't have purchased it. So far no problems. I would strongly recommend it to anyone looking for a good used suv in the $20K-$25K range

Top suv

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Vehicle: 2006 BMW X3 3.0i 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6M)

If you enjoy speed with a dash of mobility, flexibility, security and don't have a lot of commitment in life except to be with your love ones to include all your pets. This is the vehicle to get. Perfect size and comfort for the couple and/or some that just wanna go out and play some more.

Why had i been driving

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Vehicle: 2006 BMW X3 3.0i 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6M)

After 130K in a Pathfinder, I was looking for something a little more sporty, solid, fun to drive but still large to haul kids. Looked at a lot of replacement options but fell in love with the X3 about five minutes off the dealer lot in a test drive. Transmission is great. Smooth ride. It's hard to take my foot off the accelerator. Only complaint is the weird/basic radio system and "always on" lighter outlets. Hate to replace the radio with an aftermarket, but I need satellite radio, USB port for I- pod and an AUX port. Just learned today that they have discontinued production on Sirius receivers for the factory radio. I'm going to put the Ipod/AUX ports up in the top dash compartment.

After 3 year lease, had

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Vehicle: 2006 BMW X3 3.0i 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6M)

After 35K miles, my assessment of this well-designed vehicle is you get what you pay for. It is not a sports car, so don't expect it to drive like a 3 series sedan, but then again, it doesn't drive like a truck either. The handling is still more impressive than a lot of cars, especially considering it's an SUV (er, sorry BMW marketing guys... "SAV"). It's not a luxury car, so don't buy it if you're looking for a smooth, refined ride. However, if you want something that is truly fun to drive, yet also has a practical side (meaning you can actually give rides to adults and shop at The Home Depot) the X3 is a great choice. I constantly get genuine compliments from friends who own luxury sedans.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

It is all in the

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Vehicle: 2006 BMW X3 3.0i 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6M)

I have owned this car for 14 months. One trip to the dealership for leaking oil was quickly resolved. Driving this car over 80 mph, winding roads or bad weather is where you really appreciate and enjoy this car and its capabilities. It handles extremely well. I feel very safe driving this car.

Talk About The 2006 X3

2006 BMW X3 Discussions See all Started By

I am trying to decide between a used 2006 BMW X3 or a used 2009 Subaru Forester X Prem or Limited. I currently have a full size SUV and am looking to downsize. I love the X3, but am not sure of the ...

Just got a killer deal on a 2006 X3 w/ 43k mi on it. What should I know as a new owner? I am a little unclear about what the 4 year/50,000 mile warranty will cover. Also, how the heck do I unlock a...

This info may help you if you are considering to purchase X3 after lease:...

Gas Mileage


  • 15
  • cty
  • 23
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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