Top-shelf SUV handling; thrilling acceleration once in motion; versatile eight-speed transmission.
Lazy throttle response; frustrating controls and switchgear; standard faux-leather upholstery.
When in doubt, add size. That's the mantra many automakers seem to follow when trying to sustain a winning formula in the North American market. So you can't really blame BMW for bulking up the 2011 BMW X3 and trying to wring further success from its cute-ute.
Fresh from an exterior redesign and a good stretching, the 2011 BMW X3 xDrive35i looks bolder and offers more space for people and stuff. Yet deep in an off-camber mountain switchback, it convinces you that it's simply a tall sport sedan. And it no longer rattles your fillings loose to prove it.
As before, standard all-wheel drive ensures that the X3 xDrive35i will scale those forest roads to the first chairlift or trailhead with ease — even if its most arduous labor only involves pulling a couple of Sea-Doos or ferrying a haul from Banana Republic over some road construction.
But the 2011 BMW X3 xDrive35i can be a maddening daily driver, with slow throttle response plaguing its low-speed character in city driving. The Acura RDX, Audi Q5, Infiniti EX35 and Mercedes-Benz GLK350 all offer a more direct connection to the drivetrain and thus more intuitive performance.
Given an open road and a rolling head start, however, the BMW X3 delivers an exhilarating head rush.
The 2011 BMW X3 xDrive35i has grown 3.6 inches between its wheels, giving it a tarmac footprint that rivals that of the X5. It's also put on about 200 pounds, but you wouldn't know it. It's powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 with direct injection and a twin-scroll turbo, offering immediate, cracking throttle response and a deep reservoir of power at cruising speeds.
A leaden foot can uncork its 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque in a frenzied defiance of inertia from just 1,200 rpm. In Edmunds testing, the X3 xDrive35i hustles to 60 mph from a standstill in just 5.6 seconds, breezing through the quarter-mile in 14.1 seconds at 95.3 mph.
A new automatic transmission with optional shift paddles for manual shift control lets you row through all eight gears in lightning-quick succession and deposit the X3 into its sweet spot of efficient cruising. Meanwhile, deep downshifts — down two or more gears — are actuated as a single, direct shift to the required ratio. The result is hyper-acceleration useful for bursting down an open lane, evading a lazy semi or detaching from the wolf pack of hungry sedans behind you.
The X3 is frustrating in low-speed stoplight driving, however. The throttle requires a very committed input before the engine delivers power, as if the turbo six were awaiting approval from an electronic committee before finally whipping the horses into action. The hesitation goes beyond mere turbo lag, and makes for jumpy, uneven driving around town. It's not notably better in Sport mode, either.
Perhaps this is the cost of fuel economy, but we're still not fans. The 4,184-pound 2011 BMW X3 xDrive35i achieves an EPA-estimated 19 city/26 highway mpg. Properly equipped, it can tow up to 3,000 pounds.
From 25 mph however, the 2011 BMW X3 xDrive35i can be sublime. Gone is the stiff-legged ride that BMW could pass off only to young, active lifestylers obsessed with the Roundel. This edition of the X3 aspires to more civilized passage. Its retuned suspension employs electronics that optimize settings to changing road conditions, and under steady-state cornering it can shift 80 percent of torque to its rear wheels.
Combined with firm and effortless speed-sensitive steering, the X3 xDrive35i feels electric (in a good way) while carving back-road bends, and kartlike when simply weaving through the speed bumps at Home Depot. It all contributes to an SUV that feels closer to the earth than the 65-inch height of its roof line suggests.
Brake feel and response inspire additional confidence in fast driving. In Edmunds brake testing, the X3 xDrive35i slows to a stop from 60 mph in 115 feet.
Inside the cabin, the 2011 BMW X3 xDrive35i greets you just like the rest of the BMW family does. You're welcomed to snug seating with multiple adjustments; a steering wheel with a soft, meaty rim and a chalky grip; and driver-oriented cockpit-style controls. As athletic as it seems, however, this particular X3 is also an aesthete, with optional leather-upholstered buckets and bolsters (vinyl leatherette is standard), glossy wood inserts and knurled knobs.
Legroom is generous, even for rear passengers, who enjoy slightly more than 3 feet of it, while headroom is similarly spacious. The rear seats split 60/40 unless you order the X3 with a ski pass-through, which gets you a 40/20/40 split.
Exploiting a BMW's tech functions through the iDrive interface has been a chore since the software's introduction. But this fourth-generation package gets it close to better. Menu screens and graphics are clear and legible, with the dial controller and selector buttons placed as close and comfortable as the living room remote.
There's still a general lack of intuitiveness when digging into features, and it takes some time to learn when to press the dial or nudge it up, down or sideways. But as with the commands of a digital camera, all can be learned.
More frustrating is the console-mounted shift lever, which offers no feeling of locking into a gear. Instead, you tap it backward and confirm your selection from a display in the instrument cluster. The turn signal stalk seems likewise built for a softer European touch, with no discernible detent. Tap it in one direction to signal, then in the opposite to turn it off (the signaling sequence always seems to go on too long while changing lanes). But use too much pressure on the latter stroke and you'll be signaling like a sailor tacking in the trade winds.
Thankfully the X3 offers a clear look over both shoulders, so when occasion arises and you have a clear shot into another lane, you can visually confirm clearance before dropping the hammer.
Design/Fit and Finish
The 2011 BMW X3 xDrive35i has received a thorough resculpting outside, adding a chiseled muscularity to its profile. As a design exercise, though, it's a busy array of curves, bulges, arcs and depressions, strong enough to look contemporary and innocuous enough not to offend.
With a price as tested of $55,525 (including destination), maybe it's wishful thinking to expect something better than the optional Nevada leather (available as a stand-alone or packaged option), which has a grainy, textured feel not much better than premium vinyl. Thankfully, other interior details — muted, soft-touch plastics on the cowl, brushed aluminum and wood trim pieces, and thick, welted stitching — contribute to an environment of performance luxury.
Who should consider this vehicle
The 2011 BMW X3 xDrive35i is really an SUV with a sport sedan heart. It's wider around the beltline, but not full-size, and hustles impressively when asked. It's compliant, but doesn't isolate you from the road like a larger SUV might. But it does force you to tolerate its throttle lag and adjust to its abrupt manners around town.
Once you've got a little speed underfoot, though, the BMW X3 xDrive35i's acceleration and poise is a thrill. It's a fine urban runabout that conveys style and fitness, but can also handle the slippery road out of town.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Used 2011 BMW X3 listings and inventory: Shop Edmunds' used car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million pre-owned vehicles to find a cheap used and certified pre-owned (CPO) 2011 BMW X3s for sale near Ashburn VA. There are currently 322 used and CPO 2011 X3s listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as 10,995 and mileage as low as 33,012. Simply research the type of used car, SUV, or truck you're interested in and then select a vehicle from our massive database to find cheap pre-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the Carfax and Autocheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the used 2011 BMW X3. Then select Edmunds' special offers, perks, deals, and incentives to contact the dealer of your choice and save up to 300 on a used or CPO 2011 X3 available from one of 2,633 dealerships in your area.
What's a good price on a used 2011 BMW X3 ?
Save up to $300 on one of 17 used 2011 BMW X3s for sale at dealerships within 25 miles of Ashburn, Virginia with prices as low as $10995 as of Apr 20, 2018, based on data from 16 dealers and 37 consumer-driven dealer ratings ranging from 1 to 4.8 out of 5 stars.
Price comparisons for used 2011 BMW X3 trim styles:
The used 2011 BMW X3 xDrive28i is priced around $15348 with average odometer reading of 76249 miles.
The used 2011 BMW X3 xDrive35i is priced around $17091 with average odometer reading of 67856 miles.
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What options are available on the 2011 BMW X3?
Available BMW X3 2011 Submodel Types: M40i, SUV, Diesel
Available BMW X3 2011 Trims: xDrive30i, M40i, 3.0si, 3.0i, xDrive28i, xDrive28d, 2.5i, sDrive28i, xDrive35i
Exterior Colors: Dark Graphite Metallic, Mineral White Metallic, Glacier Silver Metallic, Phytonic Blue Metallic, Carbon Black Metallic, Dark Olive Metallic, Blue Water Metallic, Terra Brown Metallic, Alpine White, Melbourne Red Metallic, Silver Gray Metallic, Monaco Blue Metallic, Jet Black, Space Gray Metallic, Flamenco Red Metallic, Highland Green Metallic, Mineral Silver Metallic, Montego Blue Metallic, Platinum Bronze Metallic, Sparkling Bronze Metallic, Sparkling Brown Metallic, Black Sapphire Metallic, Deep Sea Blue Metallic, Titanium Silver Metallic, Vermilion Red Metallic
Interior Colors: Black Vernasca w/Contrast Stitching and Piping leather, Black SensaTec leather, Black Nevada premium leather, Canberra Beige/Black SensaTec leatherette, Sand Beige Nevada premium leather, Mocha Vernasca w/Contrast Stitching and Piping leather, Cognac Vernasca w/Contrast Stitching and Piping leather, Canberra Beige/Black Vernasca w/Contrast Stitching and Piping leather, Saddle Brown Nevada premium leather, Oyster Vernasca w/Contrast Stitching and Piping leather, Sand Beige leatherette, Black Nevada w/Gray Contrast Stitching premium leather, Black premium leather, Oyster Nevada premium leather, Black Vernasca w/Blue Contrast Stitching and Piping leather, Gray premium leather, Sand Beige/Black Nevada premium leather, Black SensaTec leatherette, Chestnut Nevada premium leather, Ivory White Nevada w/Red Contrast Stitching premium leather, Mocha Nevada w/Orange Contrast Stitching premium leather, Mojave Nevada premium leather, Beige, Beige leatherette, Beige/Black SensaTec leatherette, Black, Black leatherette, Mojave premium leather, Oyster premium leather, Saddle Brown premium leather, Sand Beige premium leather, Sand Beige/Black premium leather
Popular Features: Power Liftgate/Trunk, 3500lb Towing Capacity, Pre-collision safety system, Heated seats, Keyless Entry/Start, Upgraded Stereo, Towing Hitch, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Heads up display, 360-degree camera, 2500lb Towing Capacity, AWD/4WD, Alarm, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Auto Climate Control, Automatic Emergency Braking, Aux Audio Inputs, Bluetooth, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Post-collision safety system, Power Driver Seat, Rear Bench Seats, Stability Control, Tire Pressure Warning, Trip Computer, USB Inputs, Cooled Seats, Upgraded Headlights, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Back-up camera, Electronic Folding Mirrors, Leather Seats, Navigation, Parking sensors, Sunroof/Moonroof
The used 2011 BMW X3 is offered in the following submodels: SUV. Available styles include xDrive28i 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 8A), and xDrive35i 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 8A). Pre-owned X3 models are available with a 0-liter gas engine, with output up to 0 hp, depending on engine type. The used 2011 X3 comes with all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 8-speed shiftable automatic.