Any BMW wearing a "3" badge has a lot of expectations to meet. As the quintessential entry-level luxury car, the 3 Series defines the category. The 3's SUV equivalent, however, the 2009 BMW X3, makes the family proud. Its sporty handling and steering, powerful engine, added utility and fun-to-drive nature are all BMW hallmarks.
The X3 also fulfills the brand's reputation for modern luxury with a long list of conveniences, exquisite comfort, premium interior materials and near-flawless build quality. Add to that the X3's generous seating space (even for taller adults) and spacious cargo area, and you have an accomplished crossover SUV that's well suited for the chores of daily life as well as twisty roads.
This isn't to say that the X3 is faultless. One by-product of the superb handling is a less-than-luxurious ride quality. For those who prefer something softer, something like a Lexus RX 350 would likely work out better. The added features and prestige of the BMW brand also make the X3 more expensive than similarly sporty entry-level luxury SUVs like the Infiniti EX35 and Acura RDX. There are also a couple new choices to consider this year: the Audi Q5 and the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class, both of which follow the same entry-level luxury SUV formula. Overall, however, the 2009 BMW X3 remains one of our favorites, and it's certainly a top pick for anyone hoping for more driving pleasure from an SUV.