Traded in my old 2003 BMW X5 for a shiny new 2013 BMW X3 28i. It doesn't have quite the build quality of the X5, but on the other hand, doesn't cost $80,000 either. Road feel, handling, steering, and general sportiness/fun are outstanding. The 28i 4 cyllinder turbo is surprisingly powerful and capable. Absolutely love the interior and all the tech gadgets (sat nav, bluetooth, large computer screen, whole music library on hard disk, etc etc). Very upscale appointments and nice touches throughout. Kind of a cross between an SUV and a sport sedan, for those who want both and are willing to pay a premium to have them both embodied within the same vehicle.
So, I will preface this by saying this is my first car review. I have owned a few X5s, X6, and X6M. All were fun, and all had purpose... but none were as all around great as the 2013 X3 35i. The engine is a blast and being attached to the perfect size chassis just tops it all off. There is enough room to haul what you need, without being overly large. The back seat room is awesome for such a compact SUV. Having a 3 series a few years ago, this feels quite similar but with more utility. I was hesitant when I ordered it, but I have no regrets now. I challenge you to drive the competitors and find one that is better all-around.
3 Year Update: I still love my ride! Other than a few very minor glitches, that the dealerships remedied, over the past 5 years I have had extremely reliable, excellent performance and would chose this vehicle again. In fact this year my sister bought one! It still rides and handles beautifully. The dealerships around the country have been very helpful in meeting my needs and addressing issues. Original Review: I looked at and drove nearly every car and SUV out there. When I drove the X3 35i I felt 'at home.' Also drove the 28i but even with the Turbo, didn't have the torque I'm used to. The 35i put a smile on my face! Performance, comfort, gas mileage, not to mention the sleek classy look. I have been asked if I am satisfied with the run-flat tires. They are expensive though I couldn't live without them. I actually drove over 1,000 miles cross country o a flat while I was traveling! What more can you ask for?
I researched options for a "retirement" SUV that would satisfy my need for utility and enjoyable driving at the same time--the BMW X3 has met my expectations in every way. The car handles like a sports car, carries 5 adults comfortably and accomodates my bicycle as I find places to use my new free time. I was a bit concerned about the power of the 4 cylinder engine but it has ample power with the Turbo assist. The buying experiences with client advisor Lonnie Overby was a "no pressure" and pleasant experience in every way, and I would recommend him to anyone.
I have had four successive 5 series wagons. Sadly, BMW doesn't bring them to the states so I had to really consider what to get next. The X1 was TINY and just didn't feel like a BMW to me. Without question my last 5 had a more luxurious interior, but that's expected. The X3 has a much nicer interior than the current 3 series. The screen is IN the dash where it should be, not sticking up like a design afterthought. The engine/transmission combo is amazing; very quick and agile. It doesn't handle like a car, but much better than other SUV's. The tech package is very nicely done. Gas mileage is really good for the size. The car feels much lighter than my 5 wagon, much faster though.