January 28, 2013
What We Got
The 2012 BMW X3 shopper had two options. One was the base X3 xDrive28i, the other the upgraded X3 xDrive35i. What set them apart was the engine underneath the hood. For the 2012 model year, the xDrive28i was powered by a 3.0-liter normally aspirated inline-6 rated at 240 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. It has since been upgraded with a new turbocharged four-cylinder that delivers the same horsepower along with 260 lb-ft of torque. It's a solid choice for the current X3, but a year ago it made more sense to upgrade to the turbocharged 3.0-liter in the xDrive35i. It produces 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. Both models shared the same all-wheel-drive system and an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Our decision to get the X3 xDrive35i was simple. The 35i had an additional 60 hp over the 28i, and it returned better fuel economy. BMW offered us a well-equipped version to test, which included the Sport Activity package ($1,750), the Cold Weather package ($700), the Premium package ($3,450) and finally the Technology package ($3,200).
January 23, 2013
If you hear an echo while conversing within the X3, it's probably the sound of your voice reverberating within the SUV's fairly cavernous door bins. Small SUVs aren't always known for offering generous storage nooks, but the X3 bucks this trend by offering door bins that are bigger and roomier than those of many rival models.
Of course, if you're buying an X3, you probably aren't buying it for its magnificently sized door bins. But it's nice to know that they're there if you need the extra storage space.
Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor
January 22, 2013
The sales numbers are in for 2012 and things look pretty good for the compact SUV segment.
As usual, the list is dominated by brawny trucks, practical midsize sedans and frugal compact four-doors. But this year, the lineup sees a growing number of small SUVs, with both the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape logging strong sales. It's a development that shows just how popular compact SUVs are becoming with the average American car buyer.
Of course, from its striking red leather interior to its atypically brisk acceleration, our sharp X3 is a cut above these more mundane choices (and no, the X3 isn't in the top 10). It's also, of course, a lot pricier. But it boasts many of the traits that make this segment so appealing: versatility, decent cargo capacity and a pleasantly tall seating position, all contained within a footprint that's small enough to ensure easy maneuverability.
Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor
January 14, 2013
My wife, thankfully, is seriously considering replacing her aging VW Jetta with a new car. I've never liked her car, so seeing it go will be a happy day.
She would like to get something nicer, something bigger, more capable. We've got dogs, a possible future family, and the George Carlin "more stuff" syndrome. Mentioning she likes the looks of the current generation of the X3, I finagled the keys to our Long-Termer.
Both the wife and I immediately liked the beautiful interior, the ample power, and the feel in the steering, but it rode a little harsh for us. To soften things up I guess we wouldn't need the Sport Package. The leather is fantastic, but there is no way on God's green Earth I'd ever allow my dogs to just ride in the back seat without some kind of seat cover. Say you got those seat covers and there was a baby seat back in the second row, would you let two 60-pound dogs ride shotgun to said youth? Neither would I. Into the back with you two mangy mutts!
That's what sealed the deal for me. The dogs barely had enough room to move around and there is no way you'd also get a suitcase/anything else back there. Any additional gear would have to ride shotgun with the future child, and it'd be limited at that. I need room for my stuff while I go out and buy more stuff.
My wife was sad. So was I. This is a great car, but not as the solo family truckster. Honestly, I knew a small SUV was going to have this problem, but I had to see it with my own eyes. Gotta look to vehicles a bit bigger than this.
Scott Jacobs, Sr. Mgr, Photography @ 22,873 miles
January 10, 2013
A new year means new resolutions. I decided to get organized. And by that I mean I decided to buy some home storage supplies to get some of the crap off of my junk room floor. I chose the BMW X3 to be my weekend companion.
My middle bedroom has become my home business center (printer, tripod, paper supplies), fitness room (unused Pilates machine, unused stepper, unused...you get the point), and random storage room (everything else that has no place).
So off to Osh I went. They had plastic storage containers and rolling carts on sale. Everyone else in my neighborhood, it seems, had the same idea. I dropped the seats in the X3 and filled the back with all kinds of things to make me feel better organized.
I actually went home and used them, too. I even put together my own shelves.
A clutter-free home means a clutter-free mind.
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 22,869 miles
January 9, 2013
I don't usually listen to CDs in the car. But a business association that I belong to started a book club. I can get a lot of "reading" out of the way on my one-hour commute to the office.
One nice thing about the BMW X3's CD player is that it displays chapter titles on the display screen. Because we are always switching cars and I have to take my CDs with me, it helps me keep track of where I left off.
A weird thing about this CD player: When I eject the disc, it is hot. I'm mean like really hot to the touch. I doubt this is how it is supposed to be. Does anyone else have an X3? Let us know if you have a similar experience. The commenting feature should be functioning soon.
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 22,819 miles
January 8, 2013
After more than 22,000 miles, the X3's tires — front and rear — have plenty of life remaining. There's ample rubber standing proud of the wear indicators. And the fact that we tested this SUV seems lost on these tires despite their very reasonable grip.
January 7, 2013
We're well past the 20,000-mile mark on the X3 now and its interior is holding up very well. Its front seat — even the bolsters — show virtually no wear. Carpets in both the driver's foot well and the cargo area appear rugged and the shifter still looks new. It's what we expect in all cars at the end of a long-term test.
January 4, 2012
We lucked out with taking our 2012 BMW X3 for our Christmas road trip up north. "Score" because we were hauling three adults, all their gear, Christmas presents and my dog Mya. I could have sworn I did a dog report on this car before but turns out that was editor Scott Oldham who put his dog in the cargo area.
I usually buckle Mya in. And as you can see she's all comfy and cozy in the X3's backseat. There was some minor complaint from my brother the other backseat passenger, "She keeps kicking me" but that was the extent of it. The X3's backseat comes with all the comforts for dogs: rear vents for air, screens for privacy as well as easy-to-clean leather and lots of storage space for her gear.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor
January 3, 2013
I knew the restaurant was somewhere in midtown Sacramento, I just didn't remember where. But when I plugged in the name of the restaurant in our 2012 BMW X3's nav, it couldn't find it. The nearest place resembling the name of the restaurant I was looking for was over 400 miles away. BUT when I plugged it into the Google function of our nav it found it right away. What gives?
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor
January 2, 2013
I've driven our 2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i maybe once or twice during its entire run here. Why? Because the staffers like it so much that it's constantly spoken for. Despite that cumbersome name.
As good as the X3 is, I did find something rather odd as I was driving home last night. It locks itself out of top gear (8th) when you have it in Drive/Sport mode — that's when you move the console shift lever to the left and it says "S1, S2, S3" etc. on the instrument panel as the transmission goes through the gears. So the highest it goes is S7, no matter how fast you're going.
DS is still a fully automatic mode, but responses are quicker, it upshifts at higher rpm, downshifts sooner and more aggressively.
Because it responds better in DS, I'd like to keep it there most of the time, even at elevated speeds on the highway. No matter what time of the night it is, L.A. is always thick with traffic. So it helps to have a quick-reacting transmission when making moves around slower cars, especially those annoying left-lane hogs.
So, yeah, locking the tranny out of S8 seems a silly move by BMW to me.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 22,386 miles
December 28, 2012
Man, there's just no replacement for the kind of punch that our 2012 BMW X3 delivers when you're dealing with moronic holiday freeway traffic. I took the X3 from Los Angeles to Sacramento and back and was so glad I didn't take something pokier. Sure, on I-5 there were the usual "left-lane trains," but this time there were scads and scads brain-dead motorists just crawling along in the left lane without a clue in the world that it's a passing lane. It was like a zombie slalom out there, and the X3's sheer thrust helped make a crummy drive a little more bearable.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor
December 24, 2012
My plan was to haul home the Oldham family Christmas tree on the roof of our long-term 1987 Buick Grand National. I'm rebellious that way, and I knew such a jerk move would fire up the haters and firing up the haters has become a hobby of mine lately.
But I reconsidered. Strapping a 12-foot tall and very heavy Christmas tree to the original paint of our pristine 25-year old Buick would not be cool. So I used our long-term 2012 BMW X3, which has become a favorite of mine since it joined our fleet 11 months ago.
It was a smart move. The X3 handled the job without any drama, despite the large size of the tree and my children insisting that they help strap it to the roof. Thankfully it didn't fly off on the short drive home, but it wasn't exactly 100% secure either. We kept a close eye on it through the X3's large glass sunroof and it shifted more than a few of times. Next year I think we'll get a smaller tree.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 21,200 miles