What's New for 2007
Four years after its introduction, BMW's smaller "Sports Activity Vehicle" (a crossover SUV by most definitions) undergoes its first significant updating. The lineup has been simplified to a single model called the "X3 3.0si" equipped with the latest generation of BMW's 3.0-liter, inline six-cylinder engine. In this application, it makes 260 horsepower. BMW has also revised the front and rear exterior styling; introduced new wheel designs; and tweaked the interior with a new three-spoke steering wheel, a new hood over the instrumentation and revised leather and plastic materials. Beyond all that, the stability control system now incorporates "Brake Fade Compensation," "Brake Drying" and "Start-off Assistant" technologies.
Like other crossover SUVs, the 2007 BMW X3 is based on a unibody car platform. However, unlike other crossover SUVs, the car platform the X3 is based upon is BMW's perpetually praised 3 Series sport sedan. And that's the strongest element of this rather small, but very athletic machine.
While the X3 features BMW's X-Drive all-wheel-drive system, this is not a machine built for off-road exploration. The X-Drive system lacks a low range for serious muck extraction and the suspension doesn't have the long travel needed to climb boulders. Instead, the X3 is built to deliver an exciting all-weather, on-road driving experience with some of the best steering and handling of any small SUV. And it has an exceptionally eager power plant that, unlike virtually every other small SUV, is offered hooked to a six-speed manual transmission. As in every BMW, the best seat in the X3 is the driver seat.
Yes the X3 is also luxurious, but in an understated way; there's very little chrome anywhere on the vehicle and the on-board entertainment system options don't include video monitors to entertain the children. Instead there are well-shaped seats covered in perfectly stitched hides, easily read instrumentation, sweet wood accents and switches that operate with the precision of a surgical instrument.
Sure the X3's ride can be stiff, the interior is versatile but there's not a lot of it, and compared to other crossover SUVs its size this one is expensive. But this is the BMW of small SUVs.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 BMW X3 is a small crossover SUV. The 3.0si is the sole trim level offered. Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic moonroof, automatic climate control, leatherette (vinyl, that is) upholstery, full power accessories, automatic headlights, heated mirrors and keyless entry. Power front seats and a CD player with an auxiliary input are also included. The three major option conglomerations are a Cold Weather package featuring heated front and rear seats, headlights and a ski bag; a Premium package that bundles a universal garage door opener, upgraded interior lighting and leather upholstery and lumbar supports for the front seats; and a Sport package that tightens the suspension, ups the wheels to 18 inches in diameter and wraps them in 235/50R18 tires, adds in sport seats and dresses the exterior in an aerodynamic body kit.
Stand-alone options include 19-inch wheels and tires, park assist, an upgraded sound system, a navigation system, new 16-way "Comfort" seats and adaptive xenon headlights.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2007 BMW X3 3.0si is powered by a 3.0-liter inline-6 engine rated at 260 horsepower and 225 pound-feet of torque. That engine comes lashed to either a manual or Sportmatic automatic six-speed transmission feeding into BMW's X-Drive full-time all-wheel-drive system. BMW claims the new engine should significantly improve acceleration with the manual-transmission X3 3.0si getting to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds and the Sportmatic doing the trick in 7.1 seconds.
The X3's safety systems are all integrated into BMW's "Intelligent Safety and Information System" which places redundant systems throughout the vehicle so even if some are damaged the various safety technologies aboard will function properly. Those include two-stage airbags in front, front and rear side curtain airbags, front-seat side impact airbags (similar airbags are optional for the rearward seats) and an aggressive stability control system that now includes brake fade compensation, brake drying, brake standby and start-off assistance.
Interior Design and Special Features
There's not a lot of room inside the X3, but what there is is well thought out and beautifully executed. The decoration is more sophisticated than opulent, with excellent switch feel and plenty of storage cubbies strewn about. The audio and ventilation controls can be confusing the first, second or 40th time a driver attempts to use them, but once mastered they return precise adjustments. Overall it's an environment geared for serious driving rather than entertaining diversion.
If you judge luxury crossover SUVs solely by how well they navigate a slalom course, then there's no better one on the market (with the possible exception of the Acura RDX) than the 2007 BMW X3. The steering is simply the best, the engine is joyous to use, the suspension is nimble and the brakes are effective. But if what you're looking for is something to haul a big family cross-country in maximum comfort or creep along a trail, there are better choices.