2018 BMW X3

2018 BMW X3 Review

A full redesign only enhances the qualities that make the X3 one of the most popular SUVs around.
7.6 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Interest in any particular car typically wanes as its gets older. Unless, that is, you're talking about the BMW X3. The second-generation X3 was sold for seven years, yet BMW's constant enhancements made this X3 a sales juggernaut long past the traditional life span. Now the company has ushered in a fully redesigned 2018 X3 in hopes of keeping you within the BMW family, even as rival automakers introduce a host of new and recently revised luxury crossover SUVs.

From the outside, it's hard to tell BMW did anything. The 2018 X3 resembles the outgoing model to the point that you might not be able to tell the difference. The X3 itself is longer and wider, though, and the size boost produces tangible increases in head- and legroom for all passengers. Like the outside, the inside of the X3 is massaged rather than overhauled. The central display is now a touchscreen that sticks up from the dash, and it's loaded with the latest iDrive infotainment software and wireless Apple CarPlay functionality. 

The redesigned X3 isn't a revolutionary departure from its massively successful predecessor. From that vantage point, the 2018 BMW X3 might seem like a bit of a disappointment. But as the old adage goes, you don't fix what isn't broken. This newest X3 remains one of our top recommendations for a luxury crossover SUV.



What's new for 2018

The BMW X3 is fully redesigned for 2018.

We recommend

We haven't performance-tested the 2018 X3 yet. But based on our experience with the last-generation X3, we think most buyers will be satisfied with the acceleration offered by the xDrive30i and its four-cylinder engine. Just note that if you intended to equip your xDrive30i with some of the sport-themed add-ons (namely, the M Sport and Dynamic Handling packages) you'll find it costs nearly the same as the M40i, which includes those two packages plus extra features and the more powerful engine.




Trim levels & features

The 2018 BMW X3 is a five-passenger crossover sold in two trims, each with its own distinct powertrain. Under the hood of the xDrive30i is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (248 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque) paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Standard exterior features include 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and foglights, automatic wipers, roof rails, a power tailgate, a rearview camera, and power-folding, auto-dimming and heated mirrors.

Inside, you'll find an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with wheel-mounted shift paddles, keyless ignition, adjustable driving modes, tri-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front sport seats, a 40/20/40-split rear seat with individual seat recline, simulated leather upholstery, driver-seat memory settings, a 6.5-inch central display, BMW's iDrive infotainment interface, a USB port and a 12-speaker audio system.

There are multiple options packages available for the xDrive30i. The Convenience package adds LED headlights, keyless entry, a panoramic sunroof, satellite radio and four-way power lumbar adjustment for the front seats. The M Sport package adds the contents of the Convenience package, plus 19-inch wheels, more aggressive-looking front and rear bumpers, a sport steering wheel and a simulated leather-covered dashboard. Selecting either of these opens the gates to the Dynamic Handling package, which includes adaptive suspension dampers, upgraded brakes and variable-ratio steering.

The M40i is driven by a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine producing 355 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Additional features includes adaptive LED headlights, automatic high beams, a sport exhaust, a sport-tuned suspension, front and rear parking sensors, a launch control feature and the contents of the above three packages.

A number of packages can be added to either model. Driver aids are available through the Driving Assistance (forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert), Driving Assistance Plus (Driving Assistance package, adaptive cruise control, front cross-traffic, alert and lane departure warning and mitigation) and Parking Assistance (front and rear parking sensors, an automated parking system and a 360-degree parking camera) packages.

Additional luxury features are included in the Premium (19-inch wheels, heated front seats, navigation, a 10.3-inch touchscreen, a head-up display and BMW Remote Services) and Executive (Premium and Parking Assistance packages, adaptive LED headlights, automatic high beams, leather upholstery, a digital instrument panel and hands-free gesture controls for the touchscreen) packages.

Some of the above features can be ordered as stand-alone options. Additional extras, depending on packages selected, include 20- and 21-inch wheels, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, manual side-window shades, wireless phone charging, Apple CarPlay, a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system and a trailer hitch.



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 2018 BMW X3 xDrive30i (turbo 2.0L inline-4 | 8-speed automatic | AWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall7.6 / 10

Driving

7.5 / 10

Acceleration7.6 / 10
Braking7.0 / 10
Steering7.5 / 10
Handling8.0 / 10
Drivability8.0 / 10

Comfort

8.0 / 10

Seat comfort8.0 / 10
Ride comfort8.0 / 10
Noise & vibration7.5 / 10
Climate control7.5 / 10

Interior

7.5 / 10

Ease of use7.0 / 10
Getting in/getting out8.0 / 10
Driving position7.0 / 10
Roominess8.0 / 10
Visibility7.5 / 10
Quality7.5 / 10

Utility

8.0 / 10

Small-item storage8.0 / 10
Cargo space7.0 / 10

Technology

7.0 / 10

Audio & navigation8.0 / 10
Smartphone integration5.5 / 10
Driver aids5.5 / 10
Voice control8.5 / 10

Driving7.5

Around town, the eight-speed transmission smartly keeps the 2.0-liter engine right in the heart of power delivery, returning smooth drivability and respectable acceleration. Capable brakes, accurate steering (depending on the drive mode), and enjoyable handling round out a solid driving SUV.

Acceleration7.6

With 248 horsepower, the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine packs a strong midrange that doesn't peter out. It responds quickly and smoothly, so it feels as if you have a little more power than you need. The high 6.0-second 0-60 mph result we recorded should be quick enough for most people.

Braking7.0

The light and linear pedal is easy to modulate, and the optional performance braking system easily withstood the abuse of repeated simulated-panic stops. The sensation of tires skittering on pavement can make distances feel a little longer, but not enough to impede the overall results.

Steering7.5

It's too easy to turn the wheel in the Comfort setting, making it a little imprecise. Sport mode's additional heft and quickness make it fun and predictable to guide the X3 around. We prefer this X3's thin-rimmed wheel to the chunky one in the sportier M40i.

Handling8.0

This is an enjoyable, composed compact SUV. Optional driver-adjustable adaptive dampers make appreciable differences between settings, though we question the real-world value of the sport settings. Despite its all-season tires, this X3 has the agility and cornering speeds often associated with BMW.

Drivability8.0

The automatic transmission is an excellent match to the engine, serving up appropriate gear ratios and nearly seamless shifts between them. Stop-start can be a bit clumsy, adding a thunk when the engine turns off. Cruise control uses downshifting and brake application to hold speed going downhill.

Off-road7.0

All-wheel drive and hill descent control come standard. The approach and departure angles are more generous than in the previous generation, and ground clearance is 8 inches. Don't expect to tackle a difficult trail, but the X3 should be fine on an unpaved road on the way to the campground.

Comfort8.0

The X3 offers all-day driving comfort. It has supportive seats with wide-ranging adjustments and a hushed interior, particularly at a stop. The ride quality is on the busy side, though the suspension soaks up big impacts well. The climate control microadjustments can be overkill.

Seat comfort8.0

The front seats deliver the comfort and support needed for long stints at the wheel. A wide range of adjustments includes lumbar, side bolsters and thigh extensions, ensuring a good fit for everyone. The rear seats feel somewhat flat and firm by comparison, but they do recline.

Ride comfort8.0

The ride falls on the busier side of the spectrum, in part due to the Dynamic Handling package outfitted on our test vehicle. The solid level of control means you feel impacts, but they don't reverberate through the cabin or bounce your head around. This is an adept-riding SUV.

Noise & vibration7.5

At idle, the silence is such that you'll want to check the tachometer to see if the engine is running. There's a little bit of wind noise from the driver-side window at freeway speeds. Engine noise is pronounced under moderate to hard acceleration, but it's not unpleasant.

Climate control7.5

The standard three-zone climate control is quiet and effective, and the optional seat and steering wheel heating acts quickly. You can adjust the intensity of the auto setting and the temperature of the front panel vents independently if you dive deep enough into the menus, which seems excessive.

Interior7.5

The X3's cabin is spacious and smartly arranged. Most controls are immediately understandable, and BMW's shifter makes sense once you get used to it. The driver has a good view outward and of the instrumentation. Strangely, the vanity mirrors are tiny and the light placement is unflattering.

Ease of use7.0

The primary controls sit right where you'd expect. It takes time to get used to the shifter, but you'll love it once you learn it. The same goes with the dense infotainment system. We can't figure out why the stereo sometimes shuts off with the engine and other times waits until you lock the car.

Getting in/getting out8.0

The large doors make big openings and aren't too heavy to close. The sills are low enough so you don't have to step up into the cabin, while the seat height feels just right. The generous front and rear head clearances mean you don't have to duck while getting in or out.

Driving position7.0

Various seat adjustment and a manual tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel ensure all instrumentation falls easily into view. The available head-up display sports multiple configurations but disappears when you wear polarized sunglasses. A digital speedometer is only visible in Sport mode.

Roominess8.0

While the interior measurements mirror those of its competitors, the X3's elevated cabin gives a strong sense of space. There's tons of headroom for all passengers, while foot- and legroom are adequate for even tall folks. Three full-size adults can fit the rear, though they might be uncomfortable.

Visibility7.5

A tall roof means big windows all around, so there's a good view outside no matter where you look. Cleverly, the rear headrests are short so they don't cut in to your view through the rearview mirror. The large side mirrors and optional blind-spot monitoring make lane changes safe and easy.

Quality7.5

The X3's interior relays the look and feel you'd expect from a luxury vehicle, though the overall design doesn't impress as much as that of German rivals. Gaps are tight and uniform, and the switchgear feels solid. Leather, plastic, wood and other trim look a touch behind the curve.

Utility8.0

Class-leading cargo space and plentiful interior storage options make the X3 a versatile SUV for family hauling. The door pockets are large and numerous, and we like the small compartment to the left of the steering wheel. Car seat attachments are easy to access, and towing capacity is excellent.

Small-item storage8.0

Both rows of seats have numerous options. The big door pockets can hold a small handbag and sports bottle, while the center tray takes a phone or two. There's moderate storage under the armrest, and the driver even has a small compartment to the left of the steering wheel.

Cargo space7.0

The X3 offers a healthy 28.7 cubic feet behind its second row, which can easily be lowered from release handles in the rear, revealing 62.7 cubic feet of space. The standard full-size spare limits underfloor storage and makes for a somewhat tall loading space. A compact spare is available.

Child safety seat accommodation7.5

The lower LATCH anchors sit behind easily locatable plastic covers that conveniently fold back when you press them. The rear cargo cover blocks your hand while reaching for the seatback anchors, so you'll have to remove it during installation. Spacious interior makes moving a car seat around easy.

Towing8.5

When equipped with the optional 2-inch receiver that includes seven- and four-pole connectors, the X3 can tow up to 4,400 pounds. We laud both the capacity, which is among the best, but also the clean integration of a Class III hitch.

Technology7.0

The mixed digital and analog gauge cluster looks clean and classy, and the entertainment interface is powerful and quick. Driver aids are similarly impressive in scope but not always reliable. While wireless Apple CarPlay works great, you have to pay for it, and Android Auto is not supported.

Audio & navigation8.0

BMW's latest entertainment interface looks pretty and reacts quickly to commands. It's powerful, too, which means there's a depth to the features that can take some time to figure out. The combination of a touchscreen and rotary dial with a touch-sensitive top makes for easy operation.

Smartphone integration5.5

Apple CarPlay works wirelessly but costs $300. Wireless charging asks more, and Android Auto is not supported. BMW's Connected system integrates a limited set of apps into the vehicle's entertainment system, but none worked with our Android phone. Two USB ports up front and one 12-volt per row.

Driver aids5.5

The surround-view camera system activates when it thinks you're parking, but it often turns on when approaching a stoplight. The availability of advanced safety features matches the segment, but we experienced an inexplicable false positive that triggered an emergency stop in traffic.

Voice control8.5

BMW continues to impress us with its voice control system. It has little difficulty understanding natural language, and it provides control over an alarmingly extensive list of features. The button that activates the voice controls even launches Siri when you're using Apple CarPlay.

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.