With its redesign for 2011, BMW positioned the X3 as a more driver-focused compact crossover SUV than its luxury rivals. Among its competitors, the X3 can count the Mercedes-Benz GLK, Volvo XC60, and Audi Q5, each differing slightly in their execution. The Mercedes-Benz goes big on sturdiness, the XC60 is the most family-friendly, and the Q5 offers a smooth, easy drive. The 2012 BMW X3 mixes all these elements and adds the brand's hallmark agility and performance. This generation of X3 appeals with an interior quality that meets the expectations of both the BMW badge and the premium price point.
The lineup is limited to two. Both come with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive (called xDrive in BMW speak). The automatic is quick-shifting and smooth, working very well with either of the engine choices. The xDrive28i features a non-turbocharged six-cylinder 3.0-liter engine with 240 hp, and the xDrive35i adds a turbocharger for a 300-hp output. The interior layout is logical and generously proportioned, while standard equipment includes alloy wheels, automatic headlights and wipers, leatherette upholstery, automatic climate control, BMW iDrive infotainment, and Bluetooth® connection. To that you can add several options, which BMW typically bundles into packages. The Premium package offers useful conveniences like power lumbar support, leather upholstery, auto-dimming/folding mirrors, and a panoramic sunroof. You'll want the Technology package, too, for the front and rear parking cameras combined with a navigation system. The X3 is a sharp all-rounder, if at the more expensive end of the spectrum.