2008 BMW X3 SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2008 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 260 hp @ 6600 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 16/23 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2008 BMW X3

  • Looking for a small SUV that performs like a sport sedan? The 2008 BMW X3 fulfills that role nicely, as long as you don't mind its big price tag and unusually firm ride.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Quick reflexes, brilliant steering, outstanding power delivery, high build quality, respectable cargo capacity for its size.

  • Cons

    Relatively stiff ride, priced higher than most competitors.

  • What's New for 2008

    The 2008 BMW X3 gets newly standard active headrests and a new "Sport Activity" package. The latter is basically an appearance package that includes 18-inch wheels, privacy glass, running boards and blacked-out window frames.

Full 2008 BMW X3 Review

What's New for 2008

The 2008 BMW X3 gets newly standard active headrests and a new "Sport Activity" package. The latter is basically an appearance package that includes 18-inch wheels, privacy glass, running boards and blacked-out window frames.


Given its very athletic personality, calling the 2008 BMW X3 the "3 Series of SUVs" wouldn't be a stretch. In fact, that statement would be most fitting, as this crossover sport-ute shares its platform DNA with BMW's perpetually praised compact sport sedan. As with other small luxury SUVs, the X3 is geared more toward providing optimum all-weather performance on blacktop rather than off-road ability. Sharp steering and quick reflexes provide plenty of everyday driving enjoyment. Adding to the fun is a powerful and turbine-smooth inline-6 that can be paired to a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission -- the latter a rarity in this class dominated by automatic-only rivals.

Luxury is part of this Bimmer's appeal as well, though it's of the understated variety. Look closely and you'll discover perfectly tailored stitching on the well-shaped seats, precise fitment of the real wood trim and switches that operate with the precision of a musical instrument. Of course, the X3 can also be fitted with a wide array of high-end features, and versatility is quite good thanks to a rear seat that can accommodate 6-footers, and generous cargo capacity that measures 71 cubic feet when that seat is folded.

Admittedly, some folks may find the X3's ride too stiff, and for its size, it's pricey. There are a number of midsize premium-badged crossovers -- such as the Cadillac SRX and Lexus RX 350 -- that can be had for the same money. There are also an increasing number of small luxury crossovers to think about, such as the Infiniti EX35, Acura RDX and Land Rover LR2, all priced some $2,000 to $5,000 less. But for those looking for the maximum in driving enjoyment from their compact SUV, the 2008 BMW X3 is still the one. And this should come as no surprise considering its DNA.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2008 BMW X3 is a small luxury crossover SUV that comes in a single 3.0si trim level. Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, automatic climate control, leatherette (a.k.a. vinyl) upholstery, full power accessories (including front seats), keyless entry and a CD player with an auxiliary audio input.

There are three major option packages: a Cold Weather package (heated front and rear seats, headlight washers and a ski bag), a Premium package (leather seating and additional interior and exterior lighting), a Sport package (firmer suspension calibrations, 18-inch alloys, sport seats and body styling accents) and a Sport Activity package (18-inch alloys, running boards, privacy glass, blackout window frames).

Stand-alone options include 19-inch wheels, park assist, an upgraded sound system, HD radio, a navigation system with iDrive, 16-way "Comfort" front seats and adaptive xenon headlights.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2008 BMW X3 3.0si is powered by a 3.0-liter inline-6 engine rated at 260 horsepower and 225 pound-feet of torque. There is a choice of either a six-speed manual or Sportmatic six-speed automatic transmission. Power is sent to all four wheels through an all-wheel-drive system. We've timed a manual X3 at 7.2 seconds for the 0-60-mph sprint. The automatic X3 earns 2008 fuel mileage numbers of 17 mpg city and 24 highway, while the manual version rates 1 mpg less in both instances.


The BMW X3 features full-length side curtain airbags, front-seat side airbags, active headrests, antilock disc brakes and a stability control system. Additional features include automatic brake drying (whereby the rotors are lightly "wiped" during wet weather conditions) and hill descent control. Rear seat side airbags are optional. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the X3 earned the highest score of "Good" for both frontal-offset and side-impact tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The cabin of the X3 is well thought out and beautifully executed. Function takes priority over opulence, with excellent switch feel and plenty of storage cubbies. A DVD entertainment system is not available, and the audio and ventilation controls can be confusing at first, but once mastered, they return precise adjustments. We'd skip the navigation system, as BMW's befuddling iDrive system comes with it. Get an aftermarket unit instead. Support and comfort from the firm, well-shaped seats are excellent. Overall the X3's cabin is an environment geared for serious driving rather than entertaining diversion. Folding the rear seat forward reveals a healthy 71 cubic feet of cargo space.

Driving Impressions

If you judge small luxury SUVs solely by how well they slice through a curvy road, then there's no better one on the market than the 2008 BMW X3. The ultra-communicative and precise steering is simply the best, the spirited engine always has plenty of smooth thrust on hand, the suspension is nimble and the brakes are strong and resistant to fade. However, if what you're looking for is a family vehicle to haul the clan cross-country in maximum comfort or if you'd rather creep along a rutted trail than tear up the twisties, there are better choices.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

Sheared motor mount bolts

by on
Vehicle: 2008 BMW X3 3.0si 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6M)

2008 BMW X3 with 59,000 miles sheared all 4 motor mount bolts in normal street driving. BMW said “tough luck”. A quick internet search indicated this was not an isolated incident, many other relatively low mileage BMW’s have had sheared motor mount bolts. I believe this problem to be a serious safety issue and filed a complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. I encourage others that have had similar problems to file NHTSA complaints at the following website: safercar.gov Click the “REPORT A VEHICLE OR CHILD SEAT DEFECT” Tab and submit your complaint. If there are enough complaints, BMW will, hopefully, be forced to acknowledge this problem.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

I'm very much disappointed

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Vehicle: 2008 BMW X3 3.0si 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6M)

I've just finished the 4 year warranty with my car as of September 1st 2012. The car was at the dealer several times, the gas odometer doesn't show the actual gas in the tank even the tank is full until several days later. It does let me pump gas into it and keep stop getting gas even the tank is not half yet. The water pump was not working just 2 year for a brand new X3. The dealer had to replace a new pump because the engine shut off while I was driving several times due to no coolant water in the engine. Now the warranty is over just 22 days, the car is just 28k and the coolant water pump having the problem again. I'm very disappointed and regret that I bought this expensive car.

6 of 13 people found this review helpful

Brakes failed

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Vehicle: 2008 BMW X3 3.0si 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6M)

My X3 brakes failed causing a major accident. The accident resulted in approximately $75,000 worth of damage. BMW denied any brake issues. When I picked the vehicle up from BMW body shop I had to return it. All of the brake indicator lights on the dashboard lit up. I loved how my vehicle handled, but there were frequent trips to the repair shop, including previous brake jobs. It was disturbing and disappointing that BMW denied a major issue that could have resulted in casualties. BMW blamed the car mats for the accident (sounds familiar). Yet they returned the vehicle with mats in same position. Car was in service 2 wks before accident. A co-worker friend had similiar experience.

2008 x3: problem prone

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Vehicle: 2008 BMW X3 3.0si 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6M)

I've owned BMWs for the last 10 years; I love the way they handle. Fortunately, my 2008 X3 is a lease. At 5K a chronic, very loud engine tapping began (akin to the vehicle in the movie 'Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang.') I had it serviced at least 6 times. By 21K, the tapping reduced to a soft finger strumming, it still taps, but I deal with it. The engine strains on small & big hills & fails to shift. The car has, on *multiple* occasions, locked me inside. Neither the unlocking mechanism nor the windows opened. I drove to the dealer, called them on my cell, had them force the window down & climbed out. The interior handles, cup holders, arm rests, etc. are peeling& have been replaced once.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Bucking bronco

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Vehicle: 2008 BMW X3 3.0si 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6M)

Unexpected acceleration when going over bumps or after turning uphill can throw you into car in front of you, complete hesitation on entrance ramp, strange gear changes. Totally unacceptable and un-ultimate driving experience. Turned the 2007 model in as a lemon because it was so dangerous. 2008 is only slightly better than 2007. No help from software patches at dealer service dept. Will

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Part 2 of n52 engine

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Vehicle: 2008 BMW X3 3.0si 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 6M)

My review somehow incorrectly stated the miles on my X3. The engine valve issue started at 6K, Not 60K as it states. And the car only has 11K,Not 110K as the reviews states, and yes it has been in the shop 5 times in a year and a half. The followup to my last review: After being in the shop for the 5th time BMW thinks the valve slam/tapping is normal! you should hear this especially during a cold start...it sounds like crap, no kidding it slams and thumps like crazy, and this was AFTER the cylinder head replacement! the sound comes and goes still! BMW WILL NOT DO MUCH FOR YOU AFTER THESE ATTEMPTS TO FIX A DEFECTIVE ENGINE ACCEPT TELL YOU THAT THE SOUND IS NORMAL!! BE WARNED FUTURE BMW BUYERS

Talk About The 2008 X3

2008 BMW X3 Discussions See all Started By

I just purchased a 2008 BMW X3 3.0si. Can somebody tell me where to find a more detailed book. The owner's manual doesn't tell you all you need to know about AC, stereo, cell phone, etc. Even how man...


I am leasing bmw x3 2007; transmission problems, one accident: I was making right turn on red light, car started to move and then hesitated, car behind me hit me, his fault but .... , same problem alm...

Gas Mileage


  • 16
  • cty
  • 23
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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