I was considering the Audi Q5, Lexus NX200t and Range Rover Evoque before deciding on the BMW X3. I was almost seduced by the Evoque, but reading all of the owner horror stories scared me away. I took delivery of my X3 in December 2015 and have already put about 7500 miles on the vehicle. Thus far, the X3 has performed flawlessly and has not disappointed! Initial build quality appears to be worthy of the price tag.
I've found the xDrive system to work very well on the road during inclement weather (heavy rain, light snow), although I did not have to put it to the test in deep snow. I do not have the Dynamic Handling Package, but given how well the X3 handles the road without it, I'm not really sure how much of a difference I might notice with it. I've read other reviews where some felt the ride was too harsh, but I don't share that opinion, although I do like to feel the road perhaps more than some might. The vehicle handles and accelerates so smoothly perhaps with the exception of the auto start/stop feature which can be noticeable at times. I leave it in the "Comfort" drive mode most of the time. I put it in "Sport" mode, when merging onto a freeway or needing to get through busy intersections when I need the extra burst of acceleration. I rarely use ECO Mode. I've found the gas mileage between ECO and Comfort to be relatively negligible and the gearing is just too dulled down for my liking in ECO mode. I've been averaging just over 23 miles per gallon for which probably 75% of my miles are highway.
I find the interior of the X3 to be nicely appointed and up to standards of fit and finish for the class of vehicle. I find the seating to be comfortable and the climate control system to work very well. The Infotainment system menu is fairly intuitive and with a little playing around with it, you should be able to figure out most of the functions and settings in relatively short order. The iDrive controller is easy to use to navigate the control panel, but some of the buttons on the passenger side of the controller are hard to see from the driver's seat. The one function I haven't really used much is the voice command system, so I can't really comment to how accurately it works. The buttons and controls on the dashboard and steering wheel all seem to be well placed with proper tactile feel.
In my opinion, there are a few "must" have packages to avoid buyer's remorse:
* xLine or M Sport Package: I think either of those significantly enhance the aesthetics of the vehicle. I went with the xLine. I'm happy with it, but wish the Sport Seats that you get with the M Sport package was an available option.
* Lighting Package: Recommend going with either the Xenon or Full LED. Either the Xenon or LED seem to throw a much brighter light and I personally think they look much better than the yellowish Halogens. I opted for the Xenon lights and am very happy with them.
* Dual-Pane Moonroof (either as standalone option or part of the Premium Package). About as close to the convertible feel as you can get.
As far as the other options go, I opted the following: Premium package, Technology package, Driver Assistance package, Driver Assistance Plus, Harman Kardon Sound System and Heated Front Seats. Unfortunately, in order to get certain features, you have to opt for entire packages. For example, if you want Lumbar Support on the front seat, you have to get the Premium package. If you want the Head Up display, you have to get the Technology package. The safety features are spread out between the Driver Assistance Package and Driver Assistance Plus. If you only want rear view camera and parking sensors, you can just opt for the Driver Assistance package. However, of all the available safety features, Active Blind Spot detection was most important to me so I had to select the Driver Assistance Plus package which also requires you to select the Driver Assistance package. I've found the surround view camera feature that is part of the Driver Assistance Plus package to be very useful as well. I'm hardly an audiophile, but the HK sound system sounds good to my ears. The Heated Front seats have 3 settings and heat up quickly.
There are a few features missing that I would have liked to see available on the X3:
* Full size spare or at least a temporary spare. This is my biggest gripe. My X3 came with run flats. There is no hole in the cargo area for any type of spare nor under the vehicle. I've seen aftermarket temporary spares available, but unless you put it on your roof rack, you have to put it in the rear cargo area which then leaves you with little cargo room.
* Cooled front seats. I have black Nevada leather and would really have liked the option to have cooled front seats for the hot weather.
* Auto-Folding Side Mirrors. The side mirrors do fold with the press of a button on the driver's side door, but why not fold automatically when the vehicle is turned off?
Overall a very good SUV. The right size when you are limited by the parking space. Got basic xDrive28, just added leather, camera and 19" wheels.
Unfortunately the car is missing some basic options in base trim as for that price. I understand that you can get all that as packages, but then price will jump too high:
1) LED/HID headlamps
2) Intelligent key less entry (when you just touch the door handler).
3) No lambda on front seats. Even headrest is only up-down now (used to be 4-way adjustable, it's still 4-way adjustable in 3-series in base trim) . I'm lucky the seat is comfortable for me, but you don't know until drove a long distance. Test drive won't show that.
4) Blind-spot detectors.
1) You will not like electric steering at least for a few weeks if you used to old-school BMW with power steering (I guess prior to 2012). After all it's not bad but definitely gives less steering feeling.
2) I still don't like sound of turbo-4. However it drives good, with adequate acceleration and fast shifting. And it doesn't loose power on high-way speeds.
Complaints - I had certain lease issues with the dealership. Unfortunate BMW customers service didn't help me. I constantly was redirected between BMW and the dealership. I have to rate the BMW customers service as the worst I had to deal with.
Put on about 8700 miles so far. It is such a pleasure to drive. Our other car is a 2010 Acura RDX, and while it isn't completely fair to compare the two due to age difference, it is amazing how much more fun it is to drive the X3. The car handles like a dream, cornering is a blast. The acceleration is good but maybe a little too many gears for my taste. Build quality seems great. The interior is very lovely. We got all the bells and whistles - favorite parts are the blind spot notification (which causes the steering wheel to shake when a car is in a blind spot and the turn signal is activated) and the overhead view that makes parking a total joy. I HIGHLY recommend getting the overhead view add-on(friends are totally blown away when showing them this feature - it looks like a drone is flying over the car sending the video so you can see the parking spot lines)
Car is expensive, sure...iDrive system blows, sure... but good golly is it a joy to drive.
Exterior looks(xline package)
Technology(driver assistance packages)
iDrive system - not fun to use - wife hates it - I would rather have touchscreen
Rear seats don't fold flat limiting cargo space
I wish there was an option to have the idlestop feature wait a second or two before shutting the car off - for when making left turns where you only have to wait a split second
Would also like the ability to make the ECO PRO mode be the default. Having to turn it on every time you start the car is downright silly.
What a great car ! My wife and I are older and used to have BMW'S when we were younger and it was easier to get into her Z3 and my 330I. After a few back surgeries, retiring to our beloved northern Minnesota, and not having a dealer close by for service, we traded the Bimmers in for Hondas. They are great cars too ! Her CRV and my Ridgeline are wonderful, but she is so short that she had a hard time driving the Ridgeline. We traded the Ridgeline in on this car because she can drive it easily and I missed the handling and just plain fun of a BMW. 'Nuff said . We have to go to Minneapolis for service ( it's 200 miles away ) but , we don't care. Driving it there is a blast ! We have the 3.5l M ! For us, it's doesn't get any more fun or comfortable !
I reviewed information online for Lexus, Mercedes, BMW, Volvo, Audi, Acura and Infinity. I keyed on safety, reliability, gas mileage and costs. I test drove each of the vehicles twice and took notes about strengths and weaknesses. I narrowed it down to Lexus and BMW primarily because of driving comfort, interior features and how I was treated at the dealership. I drove each one more time and the BMW just handled better. The interior features (look, comfort and navigation controls) were great and easy to master. Final two items that convinced me to buy the BMW was the lower cost and great people throughout the dealership. I am sure that all the vehicles I mentioned are great but after thoroughly testing them all, the BMW just proved to be the best option for me. I have only had it for a few weeks but I am convinced that I made the right choice.