2012 BMW X3 Long Term Road Test - Performance
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2012 BMW X3 Long Term Road Test

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2012 BMW X3: The Rise of the Compact SUV

January 22, 2013

2012 BMW X3

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

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2012 BMW X3: Tire Wear

January 8, 2013

2012 BMW X3

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.

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2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i: Not So Smart Sport Mode

January 2, 2013

2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i

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

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2012 BMW X3: Power To Please

December 28, 2012

2012 BMW X3

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

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2012 BMW X3: Best Six-Cylinder in the Class

December 06, 2012

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Earlier this week, I spent some time in an entry-luxury car that costs almost as much our long-term 2012 BMW X3 ($53,845). Coincidently, it also had a 300-hp six-cylinder engine, though admittedly, those are pretty common right now. But geez, nothing in this price range really compares to this N55 engine.*

This turbocharged inline six-cylinder makes any vehicle feel special. As you've read, it's potent from a low rpm and it revs so incredibly smoothly and sounds great. Even in the 4,200-pound X3, the acceleration is just breathtaking. Of course, I'd rather have this six in the lighter 3 Series or X1, which are just ridiculous when you floor the throttle in traffic.

Not surprisingly, exactly none of us have been able to stay out of the power, so our X3 is averaging just over 20 mpg against an EPA-combined rating of 21. Not horrible, but hardly stellar. However, some things in life are just worth paying for no matter what, and this BMW inline-6 is one of them. If you're going to buy a six-cylinder anything, skip all the mediocre V6s in this price bracket and get one of these.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 20,462 miles

*much less except the overachieving twin-turbo N54 that came before it

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2012 BMW X3: Likes and Dislikes

November 30, 2012

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I spent the past week in our 2012 BMW X3 driving it just as it were my personal car. Nothing too crazy. Nothing too sedentary. I just did my thing. Here are some impressions it left...

The Dislikes:

- Throttle response. We've seen this in other recent BMWs. Especially annoying from a stop.
- The shifter is still an awkward design.
- These seats were initially uncomfortable, but grew on me.
- There is limited storage space for smaller items.
- Having to push the start/stop button once to turn off the engine and again for accessories.
- Three of us felt increased sensitivity to motion as back seat passengers. Queasy, but no chunks.

The Likes:

- The engine is great. Plenty of power throughout the tach.
- Enough rear cargo space for most of my needs.
- Legitimate 400-mile fuel range on a single tank.
- Lower latch tethers were easily accessed.
- Seatbelt receivers fit near-flush with the seat, limiting their impact on child seat fitment.
- Optional rear window shades do their job.
- Arched and notched front seat backs offer adult-sized legroom for back seat passengers.
- In general, it made life with a 2-year-old more manageable.

Overall, I give the nod to the likes here. I personally do not need all of the optional equipment we added to build this $53,000 CUV. But there are numerous conveniences that are worth the money. I dig it. It's no wonder this car has so many miles on it already.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 20,048 miles

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2012 BMW X3 vs 2013 Bmw X3 xDrive28i

November 07, 2012

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The turbo four finally made its way into the 2013 BMW X3, how does it stack up against our boosted six-cylinder 2012 X3?

2013 BMW X3 xDrive28i vs. 2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i Track Test

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2012 BMW X3: A Few Miles Off-Road

October 31, 2012

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I recently took our longterm 2012 BMW X3 several miles up a desert wash to reach an impromptu campsite in a desert valley near Mexico. I'd not been there and was told by those in the know that it was passable by car-based SUV things.

However, the wash had become more treacherous since those in the know had seen it last, probably due to rainfall erosion in the meantime. Ruts were deeper, larger rocks more exposed. Entire hillsides had slid down, showering sections with edgy boulders.

The X3 had adequate ground clearance as long as I picked my path carefully. The real issue wasn't clearance. Rather, it was suspension travel. The X3 doesn't have much of it, and the ride over the rocky patches was, well, rough.

Another concern I had was that the X3's low-profile tires would get a pinched sidewall on the rocks, or a puncture. Granted, they're run-flats, but who wants to deal with replacing a tire in any case? As a result of this (and the X3's lack of travel), I had to slow to practically a standstill and walk the X3 over the rocky sections. My buddy in his 3rd gen 4Runner leading the way flew over the same ground at 25+ mph.

The X3 wasn't really made for this kind of stuff. It's essentially a tall wagon with AWD. With that said, it took me to the site and back without any issue. It was just slow going and some nervousness about its tires. On the freeway, the X3 was in its element once again.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i versus the xDrive28i

October 26, 2012

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On Monday, I described our long-term X3 xDrive35i as uniquely quick for its class. Yesterday I drove the xDrive28i with its turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes as much power, but more torque than the outgoing naturally aspirated straight-6.

As it turns out, the 28i is ununiquely average for the segment. And that's just fine, because a sub-6-second 0-60 time is still plenty quick. If BMW didn't insist on all-wheel-drive, a hypothetical sDrive28i would be even quicker.

In practice, the 28i really is all the engine you'd ever need in the X3. Torque is immediate and plentiful, and it actually sounds pretty good. Well, at least from the inside. From the outside, especially at idle, it definitely sounds four-cylindery.

So, would you pay extra for the 35i?

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

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2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i: Uniquely Quick

October 22, 2012

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The BMW X3 is the rare "compact" luxury crossover that offers an engine upgrade. As a result, it boasts acceleration that nothing else in the segment can match. Behold, the stats below.

0-60, no roll out, all all-wheel drive unless otherwise noted

BMW X3 xDrive35i: 5.6 seconds

Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design: 6.2 seconds
Acura RDX: 6.5 seconds
Infiniti EX35 (RWD): 6.7 seconds
Audi Q5 2.0T: 6.8 seconds
Volvo XC60 T6: 7 seconds
Audi Q5 3.2: 7 seconds
Cadillac SRX (FWD): 7.1 seconds
Lexus RX350 (FWD): 7.1 seconds
Mercedes GLK350: 7.3 seconds (2012 engine, 2013 has been upgraded)

As you can see, the Volvo XC60 and Audi Q5 also come with engine upgrades, but they certainly can't match the X3 35i's athleticism.

But how does the xDrive28i stack up? Well, we're actually testing it tomorrow, stay tuned.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 17,659 miles

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2012 BMW X3: Linear

October 2, 2012

I've been driving a lot of cars with analog throttles lately. Like switching from manual steering to hydraulically assisted power steering to electronic power steering, you notice a difference between analog and electronic throttles. It can take a few miles to adjust, or if you're me driving our X3, you'll never adjust to it at all.

I lost track of the number of times I booted the gas pedal to the floor from the sheer frustration of not getting a response from the motor. I can understand the transmission not wanting to grab a lower gear (or three - this is an eight speed 'box) but when the gas pedal fails to stir the turbo with moderate throttle input, I get a little bent out of shape. I, and no one else, ever had this problem before electronic throttles.

Oh, sure. You could button the thing into Sport +, but should you really have to go there in search of linear throttle response?

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 17,021 miles

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2012 BMW X3: Magic Transmission

September 14, 2012

Rumor has it the X3's 8-speed automatic transmission is filled with clutch packs and planetary gearsets which allow it to shift from 8th to 2nd gear without passing through the intermediate cogs. Rumor also has it that there's still a conventional torque converter involved in all this mechanical mystery and that it locks up quickly to boost fuel efficiency.

I have another hypothesis that goes like this: I think it's filled with fairy dust or, possibly, plain unfiltered magic.

The magic seeps out every time this SUV is driven. Now, admittedly, its tasks are few -- really just upshifting and downshifting. Yet so many transmissions manage these assignments with far less skill. This one, whether you let it decide for itself what gear to use or direct it according to your own whims, is immediate and quick shifting when that's what you want or utterly transparent when you'd rather take it easy.

Still, there's a difference between being transparent and being lazy. Nowhere does this shortcoming show up more clearly than in our Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8's 5-speed auto. Its wide gear spacing makes a huge production out of kickdowns by being at first reluctant (165 addition pound-feet of torque will do that) and then intrusive about the event. By comparison, the X3 is always in the right gear and willing to accelerate when I put my foot down. Certainly, three more cogs and a wider powerband helps.

That the X3 has 300 hp, rips to 60 mph in an IL-verified 5.8 seconds (5.5 with rollout) and still achieves combined fuel economy (in our hands, no less) of 20.4 mpg to date is uncanny. The EPA says it should earn 21 mpg combined, so we're not too far off.

Now that I think about it, though, I suppose it's neither fairy dust or magic that makes this the best tranny in any SUV, ever. Nope, It's probably just massive Bavarian resources and genuine hard work by capable engineers.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2012 BMW X3: The 6-4 Question

February 16, 2012

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Just today, BMW announced that it would start using its new "N20" turbocharged four cylinder engine as the base offering in the X3. You might have heard of this engine. It first came out in the Z4, then moved to the 5 Series and now stands as the base engine in the all-important 3 Series.

Why just this week, we put the 328i on the dyno and it cranked out a solid 240 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque -- at the wheels. Clearly, BMW is being more than a little conservative with the rating of the N20.

With that in mind, though, it seems like a good fit for the X3. Our 3.0-liter, inline six is rated at 300-hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. That's another conservative rating, so figure a little more on top of that. But does this vehicle really need that much power for daily driving? Hard to tell until we get one to test, but I'm guessing the X3 would get along just fine with the turbo four.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line @ 2,432 miles

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2012 BMW X3: How Does It Compare To An '08 X3?

June 11, 2012

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Of fortuitous coincidence, I happen to have a first-generation BMW X3 on hand. (It's my wife's car.) Since I've been driving our long-term X3, it seemed only natural to compare the two and see where the differences lie.

A little background reading on the first-generation X3, should you want it: The X3 debuted for 2004 and lasted until 2010. In reviews of the time, the X3 typically earned praise for its sharp handling (it was related to the "E46" 3 Series) but took a lot of flak for its harsh ride and disappointing interior materials. For the '07 refresh, BMW introduced a number of changes, including an upgraded interior, a retuned suspension and more power (a 260-hp 3.0-liter inline-6). You could get a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic (five-speed previous to '07), and all-wheel drive was standard.

My wife's X3 is a 2008 with 45,000 miles on it. She's owned it since December of last year as a certified pre-owned model. Major options include the Premium package (leather seating), the Sport package (firmer suspension, sport seats, full body-color exterior) and the 19-inch wheels (available only with the Sport package).

Driving Impressions

The two X3s here are pretty representative of BMW's driving dynamics path for the past half decade. I'll sum it up this way: more power, less responsiveness. There's no question that our long-term X3, with its 300 turbocharged horses, is quicker. And I really do love this engine. It's just bonkers that you can pull a 0-60 time of 5.6 seconds in a small SUV. The eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters is nice, too. It shifts quicker than the older six-speed, has rev-matched downshifts and never seems intrusive. You even get better fuel economy with this powertrain: 19/26/21 for the 2012 X3, and 17/24/20 for the 2008 X3. (The '13 X3 with the new 2.0-liter turbo-4, incidentally, will get 21/28/24.)

Another new X3 advantage: ride quality. The first-gen X3 rode more comfortably after the '07 refresh, but most reviewers at the time said it was marginal. Yet my wife's '08 has not only the sport-tuned suspension but the 19-inch wheels as well. It's as stiff as the first-gen X3 got. (Yet my wife is not, as you might think, a car enthusiast. At the time of purchase, she merely liked the monochromatic exterior look of the Sport package plus the shiny 19s. Basically, she was willing to trade comfort for style.) Our '12 long-termer rides more comfortably, for sure.

But I will say this: reports of the first-gen's X3's crap ride quality are a little exaggerated in my opinion. Perhaps if all you did is drive on downtown LA or Detroit streets, you'd hate it. But even with this maximum attack X3, the ride is acceptable from a car enthusiast stand point. Plus, you get something out of it: impressively sharp handling and steering. I suppose that sounds a little silly -- if that's what you care about, why buy a SUV? -- but if you need the utility and can own only one car, it kind of works out. Around corners, the '08 X3 has more communicative steering and a more playful nature. It seems to have more grip, too, as it's currently fitted with Pirelli summer-spec tires.

Another '08 advantage: throttle response. There's no electronic adjustability here because it's just done right to start with.

Interior and Features

I like the interior of both X3s. From a quick observational standpoint, there's not a whole lot of difference. Interior room seems about the same, as does comfort and interior material quality. But there are two areas that the '12 is superior.

The first one is interior storage. There's just a lot more room to put your stuff in the '12. The '08 has just one cupholder, its door bins are small and it doesn't have a center stack cubby.

bmw_X3_int08.JPG The other is electronic interfaces. The '08 has an auxiliary input jack and Bluetooth, so it's not completely stone age. But the Bluetooth microphone doesn't work very well, and I'm not sure if you can get satellite radio from the stock head unit. In contrast, the '12 has a sharp-looking display screen, an iPod interface, Bluetooth (with streaming audio), satellite radio navigation and an iDrive system that's vastly superior to what BMW was offering in '08. (My wife's X3 doesn't have navigation, thankfully. And in some ways, not having iDrive whatsoever is kind of nice.)

bmw_x3_int12.JPG Summing it all up, it does seem that the 2012 X3 is superior in just about every fashion. It's certainly better thought out, with BMW's second-gen changes being nicely aimed at the majority of small luxury crossover shoppers. But my wife still seems pretty happy with her X3. And it cost a lot less than our $53,000 long-termer. I'll have some of her opinions on the subject later this week.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 8,100 miles

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2012 BMW X3: No Need for Additional Sport

March 09, 2012

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Our X3 is equipped with BMW's Driving Dynamics Control (DDC) system which bundles various adjustments together into driver selectable normal, sport and sport+ modes.

There's only one real problem with the system -- it's not really needed. Driving around in "normal" mode I never once felt the need to sporty things up a little. This X3 is very much a 3 Series on stilts, so it turns, accelerates and stops like a small sport sedan.

I've generally been of the opinion that a well-tuned suspension/transmission/throttle setup shouldn't really need or even offer adjustments. Just get it right and leave it there. There are instances where it's nice to soften the ride up a little or quicken up the shift speed on the transmission, but it's often very subtle. I tried the Sport and Sport+ modes on our X3 and didn't find them much better than the "normal" mode. Maybe if we had the Dynamic Handling Package it would be different, but I doubt it.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line

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2012 BMW X3: The Driver's Choice (Begrudgingly)

June 01, 2012

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While driving our BMW X3 last night, I came to the conclusion that I quite begrudgingly would pick it if I wanted a compact luxury SUV. This despite the fact that it has a bloated pig face, I don't like iDrive and BMW's adjustable drive settings drive me up the flippin' wall. Thinking about it just sort of bugs me.

But then the driving position with its truly brilliant seats fits me just perfectly. They even have adjustable bolsters. The steering wheel comes out just far enough, it's the perfect shape and it feels good in my hands. The pedals are placed perfectly for left-foot braking, a skill that's not only useful when on a track but also to mitigate ankle discomfort caused by constantly fanning my foot between the accelerator and brake.

Then there's the transmission's manual mode. Normally, I never use paddle shifters or the +/- gate in automatic cars, yet I do in BMWs. There's a nice resistance to the shifters themselves, but more importantly, BMW has built in just a little harshness to the shift and throttle engagement to make the process feel a little more like the real thing. You actually feel that your action directly caused a mechanical action. Even some dual-clutch automanuals don't do this.

And of course, there's also the responsive steering, (relatively) nimble handling and the turbocharged inline-6 that blows everything else in the class away. Of course, it's also the only engine in the class that possesses that sort of power and is subsequently extremely expensive relative its competitors.

In total, it's the driver's choice. And as much as I prefer the looks, COMAND, lack of adjustable drive settings and just the general Mercedesness of the GLK350, I know I'd end up siding with all those little things that make life interesting when behind the wheel. That's the X3. Damn it.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 7,674 miles

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2012 BMW X3: Oh, Yes, It Has Passing Power

August 11, 2012

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It's easy to forget the 2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i has 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, because BMW has made such an effort to downplay all that. The turbo six idles like a diesel (and not a quiet diesel), and you can hear the bah-bah-bah of the eight-speed automatic short-shifting to the highest possible gear once you're out of the parking lot.

But the mid-range acceleration is pretty insane for a crossover. Give it half-throttle or more coming down an entrance ramp or passing on a two-lane road, and it moves out so much more quickly than you'd ever expect -- especially given how sensible and not fast it looks. Yeah, I see the luxury badge, but it's the color of tree bark and it weighs a not insubstantial 4,200 pounds.

But it's very quick. And the engine sounds great starting around 5,000 rpm. And I don't have any complaints about the throttle response. Maybe it's not quite as sharp as I'd like in D, but it isn't bothersome enough that I felt like I had to be in Sport mode to be happy. The only time I used it for any sustained period was on NF 25 in Washington.

This might be my favorite application of the N55 single-turbo inline-6 I've sampled to date. But really, it just reinforces in my mind that everyone should experience the free-revving character of a BMW inline-6 (with or without forced induction) sometime in his lifetime.

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2012 BMW X3: Visiting the Volcanoes

August 09, 2012

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One of the best things about living out west is the nearness of the Cascade Range. I can never drive up Interstate 5 without detouring onto Everitt Memorial Highway to spend some quality time looking at beautiful Mt Shasta. And on my recent road trip in the long-term BMW X3, I made my first trip to Mt St Helens. Actually, we went by Mt Rainier as well, but the peak was obscured by clouds and we didn't have time to hike.

Honestly, I never end up having time to hike, but never mind that. We entered the Mt St Helens vicinity via U.S. 12 and then meandered down National Forest Road 25. It was after 8 p.m. and the sun was just starting to get low in the sky, so we needed to make some time... and what a fun little road NF 25 happens to be. It's super twisty and nearly empty. It was just us and the volcano -- easily my favorite part of the whole trip.

By that point, I'd settled on using Sport mode (at least the chassis part of; never used the drivetrain setting for very long because it locks out top gear). Initially, I was hesistant to use it, because I didn't like the extra weight it seemed to add to the steering (it didn't feel like an improvement). But in time, I got used to that, and Sport mode's more aggressive damping made the X3 feel more balanced and controlled through turns -- while eliminating any potential nausea for the front passenger, I'm told. We kept a decent pace and got surprisingly little protest from the Goodyear tires, which I thought gripped well for all-season run-flats.

While I don't love driving the X3, it really handles well for a two-ton crossover, so much so that several times I parked and was surprised by the step down to the curb as I disembarked... because I'd started thinking of it like it was a sedan.

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And here we are at Shasta. Everitt Memorial is a fun road, too, but there's a lot more traffic, so you're on it for the mountain, not the drive.

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Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 14,414 miles

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2012 BMW X3: More Motor Than You'll Ever Need

March 21, 2012

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By now, you might have read the track test battle between our long-term X3 and the new Range Rover Evoque. It's a pretty stark reminder that no matter how sporty you look, it doesn't matter much unless you have an engine to back it up.

The turbocharged 3.0-liter in our X3 may not look like much, but I'm continually amazed by how much power this straight six doles out. I mean, the X3 isn't just strong off the line and all that, it's downright fast. Whether you're on getting on the highway or making a pass on a two-lane, this X3 moves out. Combined with a suspension that makes it feel like a 3 Series sedan, this X3 starts to make a pretty good case for itself and a better alternative to the traditional sedan.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line

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IL Track Tested: 2012 BMW X3 vs. 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

March 20, 2012

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With a starting price of $43,595, our 2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i is a nice way to make a statement. The BMW says, "I'm here. I put a high priority on style and function."

But what about a car that just puts a high priority on style? You know, a car that was designed with influence from Posh Spice? A car that just might be redundantly named the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque. With its rising beltline, smallish cargo hold and the ability to be had in a two-door body style, the Evoque's practicality (or lack thereof) makes our X3 feel like an Enclave.

And yet even if the Range Rover has a leg up off the beaten path, both promise slick moves at your neighborhood test track. In a straight line, it's hard to imagine our BMW X3 xDrive35i with its 300-horsepower turbocharged inline-6 losing to the Evoque and its 240-horse turbocharged inline-4. But what about braking and our handling tests? Read on.

2012 BMW X3 2012 LRRR Evoque
0-30 (sec.): 2.1 2.7
0-45 (sec.): 3.7 4.8
0-60 (sec.): 5.8 7.4
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec.): 5.5 7.1
0-75 (sec.): 8.3 11
1/4-mile (sec @ mph): 14.1 @ 97.0 15.5 @ 89.8
30-0 (ft): 31 29
60-0 (ft): 123 118
Skid pad lateral accel (g): 0.80 0.83
Slalom 64.4 62.9

Vehicle: 2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i

Odometer: 3,694
Date: 03/06/2012
Driver: Chris Walton
Base price: $42,700
Price as tested: $53,845

Specifications:
Drive Type: Front-engine, all-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Eight-speed automatic
Engine Type: Longitudinal, turbocharged, direct-injected inline-6
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 2,979/182
Redline (rpm): 7,000
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 300 @ 5,800
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 300 @ 1,300
Brake Type (front): 12.9-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): 13.0-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type(front): Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 245/45R19 (102V) M+S
Tire Size (rear): 245/45R19 (102V) M+S
Tire Brand: Goodyear
Tire Model: Eagle LS2
Tire Type: All-season, run-flat
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,225

Test Results:

Acceleration
0-30 (sec): 2.1 (2.5 w/TC on)
0-45 (sec): 3.7 (4.1 w/TC on)
0-60 (sec): 5.8 (6.3 w/TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 5.5 (5.8 w/TC on)
0-75 (sec): 8.3 (8.9 w/TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 14.1 @ 97.0 (14.4 @ 96.9 w/TC on)

Braking:
30-0 (ft): 31
60-0 (ft): 123

Handling
Slalom (mph): 64.4 dynamic mode ( 63.0 w/TC on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.80 dynamic ( 0.78 w/TC on)

Db @ Idle: 41.6
Db @ Full Throttle: 73.7
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 64.7

Acceleration: Holy guacamole! This was an utter surprise to me because I hadn't looked at the ungainly badge on the side of the X3 (xDrive35i). Strong AWD launch, but then at 4,000 rpm the afterburners light and the X3 really comes alive. Default/first run in Drive + Normal mode; subsequent in Sport Drive + Sport Plus. The close-ratio gearset keeps the engine in the sweet spot after each velvety upshift (with spark retard or some such) exactly at (or slightly over) redline. Holds a gear past redline (to 7,300 rpm) and also performs matched-rev downshifts.

Braking: Medium-travel medium-firm pedal never wavered. Moderate-to-light dive, straight and steady with slight increase in distance in middle runs that disappeared by the last.

Handling:

Skid pad: Dynamic-mode (non-defeat) ESC was virtually nonexistent on the skid pad, allowing the X3 to pile on gentle-yet-terminal understeer at the limit. Good balance and tractability but no chance of rotation. Steering goes light as understeer builds (as it should). Slight difference with ESC on, where it imperceptibly bled throttle.

Slalom: Again, dynamic-mode ESC is rather lenient unless yaw and steering are crossed for too long. If this happens, the run is scrapped anyway, so it's really an "Oh sh*t" safety net. Good front-end bite and quick to react in transitions. Very trustworthy so I was able to coax some lift-throttle rotation to snub understeer when approaching the limit. With ESC on, it used the brakes sparingly to maintain smooth arcs between cones but wouldn't allow lift-stab-lift-stab. Remarkable speed and agility for something this size.

Vehicle: 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

Odometer: 788
Date: 11/22/2011
Driver: Mike Monticello
Base price: $41,145
Price as tested: $59,670

Specifications:
Drive Type: Front-engine, all-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Six-speed automatic
Engine Type: Transverse turbocharged, direct-injected inline-4
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 1,999/122
Redline (rpm): 6,850
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 240 @ 5,500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 251 @ 1,750
Brake Type (front): 11.8-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): 11.9-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type(front): Independent MacPherson struts, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent MacPherson struts, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 245/45R20 (99V)
Tire Size (rear): 245/45R20 (99V)
Tire Brand: Michelin
Tire Model: Latitude Sport
Tire Type: Asymmetrical summer
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,015

Test Results:

Acceleration
0-30 (sec): 2.7 (3.1 w/TC on)
0-45 (sec): 4.8 (5.2 w/TC on)
0-60 (sec): 7.4 (7.7 w/TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 7.1 (7.3 w/TC on)
0-75 (sec): 11.0 (11.2 w/TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 15.5 @ 89.8 (15.7 @ 89.8 w/TC on)

Braking:
30-0 (ft): 29
60-0 (ft): 118

Handling
Slalom (mph): 62.9 dynamic mode ( 62.4 w/TC on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.83 dynamic ( 0.79 w/TC on)

Db @ Idle: 43.8
Db @ Full Throttle: 73.4
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 64.1

Acceleration: Definite turbo lag off the line, and the brakes aren't strong enough to hold the Evoque in place for proper power braking at launch. Once to 3,000 rpm the engine feels quite strong. Some lag with each upshift. Shifts are quick but a bit abrupt. Manual shifting via steering wheel paddles (no console lever, just a knob). Sort of blips the throttle on manual downshifts. Will not hold gears to limiter.

Braking: The Evoque's first stop of 118 feet is actually pretty good considering it weighs 4,000 pounds. But by just the third stop the brakes were smoking heavily, and by the fourth stop we called it quits. For that, it gets a Poor rating.

Handling:

Skid pad: Good feel from the steering and reasonable grip from the tires. Chassis is responsive. There's a major difference here between ESC on and off (unlike in the slalom, where they felt the same). With it "off" the system didn't jump in at all. With it on, it massively cut the throttle to the point you could just keep your right foot planted.

Slalom: A real shame that the ESC system cannot be defeated, even in "DSC off" mode. The Evoque has surprisingly quick steering and a competent chassis with good damping, but if you get at all aggressive with it around the cones it cuts the throttle and adds brakes. It's counter-intuitive to have such quick steering, then right after you turn in, the stability system freaks out and cuts all your speed. Let this thing breathe and it would put up a respectable time.

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2012 BMW X3: Whoooosh Hiss

February 07, 2012

BMWX3_Engine.jpg

There's something about hearing a turbo under acceleration that just makes me smile. My first experience with this was in a 2005 Subaru WRX STi. The whoosh and hiss absolutely did it for me. But in every modern BMW with a turbo, those sounds have been absent. Maybe that's a good thing, since I suppose most BMW owners wouldn't find it as appealing as I do. But it's there, you just have to listen for it.

I was running a quick errand yesterday with the windows down. I needed to accelerate rather briskly at one point and there it was. A very faint and high-pitched turbo whoosh, followed by an equally faint hiss between gears. That brought a smile to my face.

It's completely undetectable if the stereo is on, even on the lowest volume setting. Because of this, I have a feeling I'll be driving windows down and silent more often than not.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor

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2012 BMW X3: Meh

February 29, 2012

BMW X3_good gear.jpg

(An appropriate gear for any 3-Series.)

That's how I thought I'd feel after driving our X3 for the first time. Last time I drove one, more than a year ago, it was nice and steady and competent. And totally forgettable. Actually, I take that back. The X3 was pretty memorable for its inebriated throttle response and the subtlety of its Efficient Dynamics initiative (only a sticker on each rear window and the blue/red fill gauge monitoring my eco habits every time I lifted off-throttle).

I wanted to be underwhelmed - especially after driving the new F30 sedan and soaking up the new turbo-four and revised chassis.

Coming out of that car, the X3 seems somewhat irrelevant. A nice SUV for work and weekends, but not one you think about after locking the doors. You can say the same about many crossovers, but the X3 costs more to think less about it.

But you can't hate the X3. I mean, you can. But that just makes you some grumpy funk. When the six-cylinder sucks down, spools up and sends its valves into a frenzy, you smile. Or with a little speed underneath, you grab a left paddle to sling around slower traffic, and the 3.0-liter simply wonders if that's all you need. And something's happened to the throttle lag; either it's gone, or I've adapted. Maybe I forgot to drive it outside of Sport.

And it's all comfortable and quiet, visible and solid. Not quite luxury, not by the evolving benchmarks or by what awaits further up-class anyway. But premium. There's better out there, sure, and why not aspire to it? But the X3 is a nice scotch you could probably enjoy the rest of your days, without much pining for whatever else you're missing.

You get all that with the new 3 Series, too. The new turbo-four doesn't disappoint and its improved efficiency promises even more mainstream appeal. Ditto that when the turbo-four finds its way into the base X3. So who buys the X3 then? Cyclists? Local chefs? Dog owners? People who want a 3 Series with a bigger trunk? Poser One-Percenters who can't bear closer proximity to the rabble and scrub?

We must have some X3 owners on the blog. Weigh in.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2012 BMW X3: 600-Mile Road Trip

April 12, 2012

x3_r34_street.JPG

Last weekend's snowboarding trip in Mammoth Lakes, CA, gave me my first prolonged seat time in our longterm 2012 BMW X3.

First off, like Ed said, it's got ample power for virtually any circumstance.

Passing? No problem. The X3's ample power was especially nice on the single-lane portions of Rt. 395, where a line of timidly-driven cars always stacks up behind a semi going 5 under the limit.

Altitude? Pfft, whatevs. Even at 7000 feet, the thing doesn't even feel the thin air -- it makes its own atmosphere!

About the only time I could 'catch the engine out' was when I'd roll back into the throttle right after some engine braking. There's a tiny pause before it picks back up again. Nothing like the throttle lag in our old (and normally aspirated!) 528i, but since it's my job to notice these things, I do. Anyway, the point is that this turbo engine has really good boost response. I'll bet most drivers wouldn't even realize it was turbocharged... aside from the slab o' torque it delivers.

More from this trip later.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2012 BMW X3: 600-Mile Road Trip, Pt. 2

April 13, 2012

x3_r34_packed.jpg

Two snowboards, three occupants, snow gear, bags, beer, food -- everything needed for last weekend's snowboarding trip all fit into our longterm 2012 BMW X3 with ease. We folded down the far-right backseat for the 'boards -- that way, the backseat occupant had as much space as possible. No roof rack. Fine by me since roof racks leave your pricey gear conspicuously on display. (Oh, and pardon the grainy image above, please.)

As for the ride quality, some thoughts -- it's firmly damped. Not harsh. It has very good control. I seems to have limited suspension travel, so on broken, nasty pavement it loses some composure. However, it makes great use of the travel it does have. Within those bounds it's sharp and nimble without being punishing.

Summary: Great roadtrip vehicle. Would drive again.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2012 BMW X3: Like Bacon, N55 Makes Everything Better

June 15, 2012

BMW_x3_turbo6.JPG

Sure, we'll always pine for the high-revving, normally aspirated BMW M engines. You know, the one that are now nearly extinct. But if the N54/N55 turbo-6 is the consolation prize, I'll be OK with that. That's because there's just power everywhere -- no lag, fat midrange and decent top-end pull -- and pretty decent fuel economy. With it, the X3 is a step ahead of other small luxury crossovers out there.

To be honest though, writing about this engine in our X3 makes me miss our old 2008 135i.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2012 BMW X3: Enjoying The Manual Shifting Mode (With Video)

June 06, 2012

bmw_x3_shifter1.JPG

Most automatic transmissions these days come with a manual shift mode. But it's pretty rare for me to use it frequently on anything other than a sport-oriented car. One exception has been our X3, though. I find myself using the shift paddles fairly often. Not because I have to, but because it's just fun to do so. (They're included in the optional Sport Activity package).

Like James wrote recently, they have a nice feel to them and bring about some pretty quick upshifts and rev-matched downshifts. This eight-speed auto might not be a dual-clutch automated gearbox, but it's very enjoyable nonetheless. (It also helps that BMW has revised its throttle response software on its new vehicles to greatly reduce that infamous sluggish throttle tip-in we encountered the past couple years.)

A quick video of clicking through a few upshifts and downshifts follows after the jump.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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