2018 BMW X3

2017 BMW X3 SUV Review

It's getting on in years, but the 2017 BMW X3 is still one of our favorite small luxury SUVs.
3.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

A seven-year life cycle is an eternity in car years, especially when the vehicle in question is a member of the very popular luxury compact crossover class. But even with a new version arriving for 2018, the 2017 BMW X3 still holds its own against newer rivals. Much of that is because of a comprehensive refresh in 2015, which updated the X3's exterior and interior styling, among other enhancements. This year's revisions to the iDrive infotainment system and new standard features to the xDrive35i trim only add to its appeal.

We've always considered the X3 one of the top choices in the segment, and the 2017 model is no different. In terms of the rear seat and cargo area, the X3 boasts one of the roomiest interiors in the class. That's massively important if you have visions of taking your friends camping for the weekend and don't want to upgrade to the larger (and more expensive) X5. That recent refresh also means all the latest and greatest tech and safety toys are on the options list, from a 360-degree camera to adaptive cruise control and a head-up display.

On the downside, the X3 is more expensive than most in this class. A rearview camera, which comes standard on nearly every economy car these days, is an optional extra. If you can stomach the high price tag, the 2017 BMW X3 remains a class leader amid an array of newer competitors.



what's new

For 2017, the iDrive interface included with the optional navigation system is updated to the latest version. The xDrive35i now comes standard with keyless ignition and entry, power lumbar adjustment and satellite radio. The options list is also bolstered with wireless charging and a Wi-Fi hotspot.

we recommend

We like the diesel engine that powers the xDrive28d. It'll save you money on fuel over the long haul, yet it delivers strong performance on the open road. You'll get exceptional range, too, so you'll spend less time fueling up. Unless you're truly keen on maximum performance, it's the savvy way to go for most shoppers in this segment. There are some packages you should consider adding no matter which trim you choose. The Cold Weather, Driving Assistance and Premium packages add features that a luxury SUV should have

trim levels & features

The 2017 BMW X3 is offered in four trim levels: sDrive28i, xDrive28i, xDrive28d and xDrive35i. These trims are primarily differentiated by their powertrains, rather than their features. The sDrive28i (rear-wheel drive) and xDrive28i (all-wheel drive) are powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine, while the xDrive28d uses a diesel. All three of these cost roughly the same. The xDrive35i is driven by a significantly more powerful turbo six-cylinder engine, but it's much pricier. This is partially because it includes the Premium package, which is optional on the others.

Under the hood of the sDrive28i and xDrive28i is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (240 horsepower, 260 pound-feet of torque), while the xDrive28d uses a diesel engine of the same displacement (180 hp, 280 lb-ft). An eight-speed automatic is standard across the board.

Apart from their powertrains, the sDrive28i, xDrive28i and xDrive28d are equipped equally. Standard equipment includes 18-inch wheels, roof rails, rear privacy glass, automatic headlights, LED foglights, automatic wipers, a power liftgate, power-folding auto-dimming mirrors, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats with driver-seat memory functions, SensaTec simulated leather upholstery, a 40/20/40-split folding rear seat, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, ambient lighting, Bluetooth, the iDrive electronics interface, and a nine-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.

A Premium package is available for these trims, adding keyless ignition and entry, front seat power lumbar adjustment, a panoramic sunroof and satellite radio. This package is standard on the xDrive35i, along with the six-cylinder engine (300 hp, 300 lb-ft), adaptive xenon headlights and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system (available on the other models as a stand-alone option).

The optional Technology package gets you a head-up display, a navigation system (includes a larger central iDrive screen and an upgraded controller that accepts handwritten inputs), an enhanced driver information display in the gauge cluster, smartphone app integration and BMW Remote Services.

The Dynamic Handling package adds a driver-adjustable suspension, variable-ratio steering and an enhanced version of the all-wheel-drive system (sDrive28i excluded). The M Sport package features 19-inch wheels, torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, an enhanced body kit, sport front seats, special interior trim and a sport steering wheel. Also, all trims except the xDrive28d get an eight-speed sport transmission with shift paddles, while the xDrive28d gets the shift paddles minus the transmission upgrade.

A Driver Assistance package is also offered that bundles front and rear parking sensors with a rearview camera, while the Driver Assistance Plus package throws in a surround-view camera system, an active blind-spot monitor, a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking, and a lane departure warning system. Adaptive cruise control is available with the Driver Assistance Plus package at additional cost. The Lighting package adds adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams to the xDrive35i, while the lesser trims get xenon headlights included, or LED headlights for an extra fee.

Some of the above items (e.g., the panoramic sunroof and the navigation system) are available as stand-alone options, and the xDrive35i's Harman Kardon audio system is optional on other X3 models. You may also encounter X3 models with an optional Mobile Assistance package that combines certain features from the Premium, Cold Weather and Technology packages.

trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2017 BMW X3 xDrive35i (turbo 3.0L inline-6 | 8-speed automatic | AWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.5 / 5.0

Driving

2.5 / 5.0

Acceleration3.5 / 5.0
Braking3.0 / 5.0
Steering2.0 / 5.0
Handling2.5 / 5.0
Drivability2.0 / 5.0

Comfort

3.5 / 5.0

Seat comfort3.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort3.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration4.0 / 5.0
Climate control4.0 / 5.0

Interior

3.5 / 5.0

Ease of use3.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out4.0 / 5.0
Driving position5.0 / 5.0
Roominess3.5 / 5.0
Visibility3.0 / 5.0
Quality4.0 / 5.0

Utility

3.5 / 5.0

Small-item storage3.0 / 5.0
Cargo space5.0 / 5.0

Technology

3.0 / 5.0

Audio & navigation4.0 / 5.0
Smartphone integration2.0 / 5.0
Driver aids3.5 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
The X3's performance is good by universal measures, but it doesn't stack up favorably compared to newer rivals. Its turbocharged six remains plenty powerful, but it belongs to an outgoing engine generation that isn't ideally matched to the transmission. The steering is the biggest letdown.

acceleration

edmunds rating
The X3 complies when you want to move, needing only 5.5 seconds to hit 60 mph. But among the newest crop of luxury compact SUVs, it is about middle of the pack. Shifts are crisp and rapid at full throttle, and the 300-horsepower engine pulls hard from low speeds, happily revving to 7,000 rpm.

braking

edmunds rating
Its stopping distance at 119 feet from 60 mph is comparable to others in the class with all-season tires. We witnessed minimal, if any, instability at maximum braking, though we felt the brake pedal required a little more pressure than average.

steering

edmunds rating
The X3's steering is light and direct, but feedback is minimal and the assist feels unnatural because it doesn't readily return to center. This creates a vague on-center feel and requires more effort to maintain a smooth arc through any road with a degree of bend. An odd shortfall for BMW.

handling

edmunds rating
Without the dynamic handling options, this X3 isn't as adept at tackling curves as we were expecting. It can still be driven with moderate enthusiasm and retain its composure, but with its all-season run-flat tires, this BMW SUV leans more "utility" than "sport."

drivability

edmunds rating
Throttle response is a bit touchy even in Comfort mode, and there's a short delay before the turbos kick in. This delay is exacerbated when the automatic engine stop-start is on. The eight-speed transmission feels overly shifty when you aren't accelerating hard and isn't as smooth as in other BMWs.

comfort

edmunds rating
The X3 is a mixed bag when it comes to comfort. The climate control system operates well, and the cabin does a good job of insulating against wind and road noise. But its busy ride quality is a real shortcoming.

seat comfort

edmunds rating
The front seat cushions feel a little flat and firm, and there isn't much lateral support for the upper torso or thighs. But the dense padding on the armrest is welcome, and the material is comfortable. The rear seats sit closer to the floor and may compromise comfort for long-legged passengers.

ride comfort

edmunds rating
Though we wouldn't classify the X3 as stiff-riding, it is busy, likely because of the unyielding sidewalls of its run-flat tires. Small undulations and road imperfections reach occupants, but larger bumps are decently dispatched. The optional adjustable dampers may help.

noise & vibration

edmunds rating
The X3 is no longer the quietest in the segment; that honor goes to the Mercedes-Benz GLC. But its cruising noise level is still excellent, and it isolates its occupants effectively from tire and wind noise. The interior is also entirely free of squeaks and rattles.

climate control

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The dual-zone climate controls are prominent, making them easy to comprehend and adjust. There is plenty of heating and cooling capacity, and the auto temperature settings maintain a comfortable cabin environment. Seat heaters get toasty very quickly.

interior

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The X3 scores well when it comes to accommodating drivers of all sizes and making it easy to climb in and out. There's a good amount of room available front and rear, though some could find the lower height of the rear bench off-putting. The new iDrive system is a step back.

ease of use

edmunds rating
Compared to the previous system, BMW's latest iDrive menu interface is less intuitive. The multifunctional rotary knob controls are fundamentally still good, but we had difficulty locating things such as the driver assist functions, which are accessed through a button on the dash and not in a menu.

getting in/getting out

edmunds rating
The seat height allows easy access to folks of average height (5-foot-10). The front and rear doors open wide, and rear-door head clearance is pretty generous. The door hinge's detents are pretty strong, so children or short occupants might have a hard time closing a fully open door once seated.

driving position

edmunds rating
BMW does a good job of ensuring drivers can find a comfortable position. There's enough adjustability to sit high for a good road view, or low to feel more ensconced in the cockpit. Furthermore, the steering column's tilt and reach adjustment ranges are generous.

roominess

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The front and rear seats offer ample leg- and headroom, though long-legged rear occupants might dislike the low seating position. In the back seat, even those taller than 6 feet will find adequate headroom. Rear footroom is sufficient for large passengers.

visibility

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Front-quarter visibility is good, but the rear-quarter view is hampered somewhat by large roof supports and small quarter-windows. Still, visibility is similar to that of most competitors. A rearview or surround-view camera system and parking sensors are optional.

quality

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BMW interiors are often executed in beautiful minimalism. All of the switches have a nice substantial feel, the knobs have nice, soft notches, and panel gaps are minimal. The only nit to pick is that the leather appears a bit mediocre for this price point, especially around the steering wheel.

utility

edmunds rating
With a max of 63.3 cubic feet of cargo space, the X3 is at the top of the segment. You can stow bicycles with the rear seats down, and the split seats fold completely flat. The door pockets are a good size but are not optimally shaped for large water bottles. The LATCH anchors are hard to access.

small-item storage

edmunds rating
The center armrest bin is modestly sized, as are the door pockets (though the pockets are shaped to hold a lot of little items rather than larger ones). All four cupholders — two in front, two in the rear armrest — feature anti-tip tabs.

cargo space

edmunds rating
The X3's rear seats are easy to fold forward and lie flat for a smooth cargo area floor. With 27.6 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, and 63.3 cubic feet with them folded, the X3 offers a useful amount of utility for its class. A bit of extra storage space under the rear cargo area floor.

child safety seat accomodation

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The LATCH anchors are buried in the crevices of the seat cushions and not easy to access.

technology

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BMW's navigation system remains easy to use even if the rest of the iDrive system has taken a step back in user friendliness. We weren't wowed by the access and level of control to our phone's media library, but we appreciated the Wi-Fi hotspot browsing speeds and most of the advanced driving aids.

audio & navigation

edmunds rating
Aside from the less intuitive menu structure of iDrive 5.0, the navigation system is far better to use than most. There's a split-screen mode, real-time traffic info and pinch-zoom function when using the rotary dial touchpad. The standard Harmon Kardon surround-sound system doesn't disappoint.

smartphone integration

edmunds rating
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is optional and highly recommended. Using iDrive to navigate through an iPhone playlist is extremely cumbersome, and there's no access to podcasts or audiobooks. Android phones have more functionality but were not tested in our car.

driver aids

edmunds rating
Our test car came with lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, a surround-view camera and parking sensors. The lane departure warning was overly sensitive and not adjustable, and thus not very useful. The sensitivity of the forward collision warning is adjustable.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.