2011 BMW X3 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Potent turbocharged engine
  • high-quality cabin
  • crisp handling
  • comfortable rear seat.
  • Abrupt power delivery
  • priced higher than many competitors.
List Price Range
$9,995 - $11,650

Used X3 for Sale
Select your model:
See all for sale

Get More For Your Trade-In

Get More For Your Trade-In

Edmunds shoppers get on average $235 more for their trade-in.
Find out what your car is really worth in minutes.

Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2011 BMW X3 is a fine, if pricey, choice for drivers seeking sport sedan dynamics in a crossover SUV.

Vehicle overview

When it debuted seven years ago, the BMW X3 seemed like a natural follow-up to its larger linemate, the X5. But burdened with mediocre power, a jarring ride and subpar interior, the X3 almost seemed more like a corporate afterthought than a fully realized small crossover SUV. Thankfully, BMW softened the suspension and upped the power in successive years. And still blessed with BMW's typical handling excellence, the X3 found an audience among those seeking a sharp handler over road and trail but also a ride large enough to ferry a couple of golden Labs to the bark park.

With the 2011 X3, BMW is hoping to fully make amends. This redesigned X3 is about the same size as the first-generation model but features notable mechanical revisions. Under the more dynamic looking sheet metal is a redesigned suspension that softens the stiff ride of its predecessor. The X3 is still plenty taut and inspired in corners, aided by all-wheel drive, but now provides a more compliant ride. An optional adaptive suspension allows the driver to select from three different modes calibrating suspension, throttle, transmission and stability control settings.

This year also brings a second trim level to the lineup. The xDrive28i ostensibly replaces last year's xDrive30i, and offers slightly less power, but also a slimmer entry fee. The xDrive35i, with its turbocharged, 300-horsepower six-cylinder engine, is the target to which to aspire. Both models get a new eight-speed transmission, which rows through gears in a quiet fury to reach cruising speed. And when you need maximum acceleration in an instant, the transmission can drop from 8th to 2nd gear in a single direct snap, bypassing the gears in between.

Overall, BMW's refinements make the X3 a prime contender in the small luxury crossover SUV segment. But it's not without peer. The Infiniti EX35, for instance, drives with similar power and agility. The 2011 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class is less athletic, but feels more solid. The 2011 Audi Q5 is smoother around the edges, while the 2011 Volvo XC60 is more family-friendly. As you've probably gathered, each of these others offers a slightly different take on what a luxury crossover should be. But if you want one with performance leanings, the 2011 BMW X3 is a fine pick.

2011 BMW X3 models

The 2011 BMW X3 is a five-passenger compact luxury crossover SUV available in two trim levels: the xDrive28i and the xDrive35i.

Standard features on the 28i include 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, eight-way power front seats, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, automatic climate control, cruise control, Bluetooth, BMW's iDrive electronics interface and a 12-speaker audio system with a CD player, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod interface.

The 35i is similar but has 18-inch alloy wheels and adaptive xenon headlights. Options are largely grouped into packages, but several of the items are available separately. The Sport Activity package varies slightly for each model, but includes 18-inch wheels, sport front seats, roof rails and a sport transmission with paddle shifters. The Premium package adds a sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and leather upholstery.

The Technology package offers a rearview camera with top view, front and rear parking sensors, Bluetooth streaming audio and a hard-drive-based navigation system with voice commands and real-time traffic. Opting for the Dynamic Handling package gets you adaptive suspension dampers, variable-ratio steering and three driver-selectable drive modes. A Cold Weather package adds heated front and rear seats and a heated steering wheel.

Additional stand-alone options include 19-inch wheels. a rearview camera, a head-up display, a sunroof, keyless entry/ignition, a power liftgate, a 40/20/40-split rear seat, satellite radio and a premium audio system.

2011 Highlights

The 2011 BMW X3 has been fully redesigned. Highlights include an optional turbocharged engine, a standard eight-speed automatic transmission, crisper exterior styling, revised suspension tuning and an updated interior design with the latest iDrive electronics interface.

Performance & mpg

A 3.0-liter inline-6 engine powers both 2011 BMW X3 models. The engine in the xDrive28i makes 240 hp and 221 pound-feet of torque, while direct injection and turbocharging increase power in the xDrive35i to 300 hp and 300 lb-ft. A new eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode is standard on both models, as is AWD.

In Edmunds testing, an xDrive35i accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, a very quick time for this segment. BMW estimates the x35i's fuel economy at 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway.

Safety

Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, automatic brake drying (useful in rainy weather), front airbags, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, active front-seat head restraints, stability control, and hill descent control. In Edmunds testing, the xDrive35i stopped from 60 mph in a short 116 feet.

Driving

With its weight distributed almost equally over its front and rear axles, the 2011 BMW X3 is an adept handler. The chassis feels light and the speed-sensitive steering gives the X3 a nimble quality that makes you want to swing it around. The Dynamic Handling package adds different driving modes, though we've found these to be an overly complicated solution to a problem that never existed in the first place. In particular, throttle response can be annoyingly slow, especially in the base, "Normal" mode. And when your foot's request is finally approved by the electronic governors, the engine catapults you through the transmission's eight gears. It's slightly unsettling, and only somewhat mitigated by selecting Sport mode. Once at cruising or highway speeds, acceleration is swift and effortless.

Interior

About an inch wider than its predecessor, the 2011 BMW X3 offers the driver a little more elbow room between the door and the front seat passenger. While still considered a compact crossover, the X3 has swelled to proportions similar to the previous-generation X5. Rear legroom is likewise generous.

The additional room is welcomed, allowing occupants to feel cocooned within the high-quality materials covering the seats, consoles and dash. The fourth generation of BMW's iDrive -- the system that controls settings, information, navigation and entertainment -- now offers better intuitive control, although the hybrid dial/joystick selector still requires some practice and patience. Thankfully, it falls to hand easily next to the gearshift, like a television remote.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2011 BMW X3.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Worth It! Find a good, affordable mechanic.
Turbo Inline 6,10/30/2019
xDrive35i 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 8A)
This is long but it’s the review I wish I had when I bought my BMW X3. I bought a preowned 2011 X3 35i in October 2019 and it’s a joy. A turbo charged inline 6 engine, I’m excited to drive it every day. Here’s what I learned: shop for your independent BMW mechanic before you even shop for the car. I think you’ll love your BMW! I love mine. However, you need to negotiate the lowest purchase price possible and have about $3,000 saved for repairs. The repairs will happen. You don’t want to be caught off guard. Before this, I drove a Toyota for 17 YEARS, almost 300k miles and sold it. It’s STILL out there going strong. Then, I had a Subaru Impreza for 1 year and I never liked it. Also sold it and it’s still out there going strong. I strongly debated buying a BMW. They are simply not as reliable as Toyota. BMW must have consistent care, where a Toyota will basically never die no matter what you do. When I was a dumb 20 yr old, I drove my Toyota for like a month with no oil and it Did.Not.Die. I only took it in when I heard a sound from under the hood, which turned out to be the 100% dry dipstick rattling in the empty oil reservoir. Now I’m older and more responsible. I decided to buy the car I REALLY wanted this time because life is short. I chose the more reliable X3 35i engine over the 28i that has terribly expensive timing chain failure issues. Don’t buy a 2011-2014 28i. Less reliable, less luxe, less fun to drive. I bought from a private seller and had my X3 inspected by a BMW shop pre-purchase. The car had solid maintenance history too. 5 days after I bought it...starter died, a $650.00 repair. I did everything right, and a surprising repair can still happen. Save a repair fund in advance so you aren’t going into debt. Know in advance which mechanic you’ll use. Know that on a preowned BMW, control arm replacement is gonna happen to you. It’ll be about $1200. Other common repairs after 70k miles: Water pump, $750. New battery, $300. Oil pump or oil pan, $650. You will love having a turbo BMW. You will be amazed and delighted by the luxury features and comfort. At the end of the day, any car could be a lemon money pit. Don’t stress and be afraid to buy a BMW, like I was. Research any car’s maintenance record and amount of owners. Have it inspected before you buy. Don’t trust a dealership to do all that legwork for you. Don’t overspend money you can’t afford to lose if the car is a dud.
love hate relationship
GoWyo,09/26/2016
xDrive35i 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 8A)
I bought the car brand new in 2011. I love how this car drives. Super fun and sporty. Hands down there is nothing on the market to compare to this little turbo six. Hence the love part. The hate part is the water pump going out with only 45,000 miles on it costing me over $1000. to fix. Constantly having battery problems with it in the cold winter, tail lights going out. The mechanic told me to save my money cause that"s how BMW's are. It's a high maintenance car but a blast to drive. It will be going down the road soon and will not be replaced by another BMW. I'm just not into the high cost of the maintenance regardless of how fun the car is to drive.
Over 130,000 miles and still going strong!
Rich Couturier,05/03/2016
xDrive28i 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 8A)
Really a great SUV. Great visibility, great looks, strong powertrain, extremely functional, appropriate repair/maintenance costs. The in-line six cylinder engine is very strong and reliable. Two notable repairs. Replacement of water pump and supply/return hoses at 99,000 miles (covered under extended 100k warranty). Replacement of intake air valve actuators at 125,000 miles. This was a tricky problem that local BMW dealer could not figure out, but independent BMW shop did. Normally scheduled maintenance, tires and brakes. No oil leaks. Great 8-speed transmission that continues to shift strongly and crispy. Zero problems with electronic all wheel drive system. Getting ready to replace struts, control arms and tie rods at 150k. Squeaks and rattles are worse than expected. We've had 20" wheels with low profile tires, so this might be responsible for beating up the vehicle over time. I despise the navigation and Bluetooth. Navigation is "much dumber" and "much slower" then iPhone Maps. Bluetooth constantly loses pairing. Callers on other end of phone calls cannot hear you talk at all. All-in-all very happy w the X3. Would buy another one, except for the fact that this one is paid off and running very strong.
I got a lemon.
juniorlla,07/30/2012
I bought a brand new 2011 BMW X3 XDrive 35i from Autorgemana in Medellin, Colombia and I got a lemon. 1) The sunroof didn’t work. It took 6 months to replace everything and still makes a clunking noise when it opens. 2) when you step on the brakes the car shakes. It was at the dealer 3 times and they couldn’t give us a correct solution. They replaced all 4 disc brakes, pads and sensors. 3) The headlights fog up inside even if it doesn’t rain. They haven’t been able to figure out why this happens so they said it is normal and a year later still happens. 4) The steering system was broken. It went to the shop 3 times and it took 8 months to replace it. As i write this, my car is 14 months old, it has 14.800 kms and it is in the shop for the twelfth time. I named it St. Joseph because it goes from the shop to the house and the house to the shop.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2011 BMW X3 features & specs
More about the 2011 BMW X3
More About This Model

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.

Used 2011 BMW X3 Overview

The Used 2011 BMW X3 is offered in the following submodels: X3 SUV. Available styles include xDrive28i 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 8A), and xDrive35i 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 8A).

What's a good price on a Used 2011 BMW X3?

Price comparisons for Used 2011 BMW X3 trim styles:

  • The Used 2011 BMW X3 xDrive28i is priced between $9,995 and$11,650 with odometer readings between 88205 and122234 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2011 BMW X3s are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2011 BMW X3 for sale near. There are currently 4 used and CPO 2011 X3s listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $9,995 and mileage as low as 88205 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2011 BMW X3.

Can't find a used 2011 BMW X3s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used BMW X3 for sale - 12 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $13,141.

Find a used BMW for sale - 8 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $19,323.

Find a used certified pre-owned BMW X3 for sale - 1 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $8,778.

Find a used certified pre-owned BMW for sale - 12 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $23,109.

Should I lease or buy a 2011 BMW X3?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out BMW lease specials
Check out BMW X3 lease specials