2009 BMW X3 xDRIVE 30i REVIEW
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
INTRO TO THE BMW X3 VEHICLE
Strong heritage speaks louder than price. Such must be the mantra for BMW drivers, and the luxurious compact SUV or SAV (Sport Activity Vehicle) X3 represents another competent and regal choice for the beautiful people, all backed by a solid name or logo.
I drove a 4-door, 5-passenger metallic blue 2009 BMW X3 with the 6-speed automatic 260-horsepower 3.0-liter dual overhead cam V6 featuring the xDrive all-wheel drive system. Additional standard features included Hill Decent Control (HDC), 4-wheel anti-lock brakes with Dynamic Brake Control; roof rails; panoramic moonroof; rain-sensing windshield wipers; Head Protection System (HPS); and BMW's Advance Safety System.
Base price was $39,400 but blossoms to $48,425 with all the optional equipment: the $550 paint color; a $1,400 Sport Activity Package (alloy wheels, leather steering wheel, darker glass); a $2,800 Premium Package (universal garage door opener, auto-dimming mirrors, lumbar support); $150 cargo net; a $700 Park Distance Control; $800 Xenon headlights; and an $1,800 navigation system.
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: You won't hear me knocking luxury. However, you might hear me knocking price – you'll have to sink another $10k on top of the $39,400 base price to get the best features. Also, the navigation system was not a standout nor easy to navigate. I'm wondering why BMW didn't hit us up with a new exterior design for 2009, because it's lines are starting to look a bit archaic in comparison to other modern CUV or smaller SUV shapes.
Reliability & Safety Factor: BMW has the market nailed in safety, which is a major and sensible draw. Not one to put out an inferior product in any sense, the company's reliability is sandwiched between the better Subaru and Nissan products. The X3 is rated by Consumer Reports as a reliable and recommended choice. Xenon headlights illuminate the road like nothing else; turning to cast a perfect bright light on otherwise shadowed corners or potential road dangers. Trust me -- the X3 is loaded with enough foul weather safety features in the form acronyms to keep you very safe (and otherwise overwhelmed by their definition).
Cost Issues: BMW's are not for the faint of heart (or wallet) for a total tag of $48,425, sans pricey visits to the car spa. Also, note you'll be filling up with premium fuel only. Vehicles I've driven of similar size, class and competence are the Mercedes-Benz ML320 BlueTEC 3.0-liter turbo diesel for a starting price of $49,475 (a price that grows like the X3 with every additional feature, but more into the low $60ks); and on the lower end, an Acura RDX 2.3-liter turbo for $37,755.
Activity & Performance Ability: The X3 delivers what you’d expect out of a BMW: instantaneous horsepower, precise steering, and overly confident grip and cornering. It easy forgets it's supposed to act and behave like a CUV, not an overtly eager sports sedan. Deathly quite cabin and zero road noise as well.
The Green Concern: Fossil fuel consumption numbers you’d expect from an engine of this size – 17-mpg city/24-mpg highway for an average of 20-mpg. This is a bit disappointing on the BMW front, as the vehicles are known for excellent gas consumption. And for the vehicle and passenger size, this isn't anywhere near what cheaper competitors are achieving (although kudos must be give to the cargo space). However, if you're staring directly at the engine stats, the gas numbers make perfect sense.
FINAL PARTING WORDS
It takes a BMW-lover to understand what the X3 holds that other competitors don't – and it takes a buyer on a budget to realize this size and shape of a smaller SUV can be had for cheaper elsewhere.
Katrina's Car Tips For Women Drivers
- Katrina's 2009 Crossover Watch List
- Katrina's 2009 3-Row SUVs and SUVs
- Katrina's 2008 Top 10 Vehicles For Female Drivers
- Katrina's Basic Car Insurance Coverage For Women
- Katrina's Money Saving Car Tips For Women
2010 and 2009 Model Reviews
- 2009 Acura RDX Review
- 2009 Acura TL Review
- 2009 Acura TSX Tech Review
- 2009 BMW X3 xDRIVE 30i Review
- 2009 Chevrolet Traverse Review
- 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid Review
- 2009 Dodge Journey Review
- 2009 Ford Flex Review
- 2009 Honda Pilot EX-L Review
- 2009 Infiniti G37 Coupe Review
- 2009 Kia Borrego Review
- 2010 Lexus HS250h Review
- 2009 Mazda5 Grand Touring Review
- 2009 Mazda6 Grand Touring Review
- 2009 Mazda CX-9 Review
- 2009 Mercedes-Benz ML320 BLUETEC Review
- 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander Review
- 2009 Nissan Murano Review
- 2009 Suzuki Equator Review
- 2009 Subaru Forester Review
- 2010 Toyota Prius Hybrid Review
- 2009 Toyota Yaris Review
- 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid Review
- 2009 Toyota RAV4 Review
- 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan SE 4Motion Review
- 2009 Volkswagen CC Sport Review
- 2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI Review
2008 Model Reviews
- 2008 Buick Enclave Review
- 2008 Ford Escape
- 2008 Ford Escape Limited 4x4 Review
- 2008 Honda CR-V Review
- 2008 Honda Reidgeline Review
- 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Review
- 2008 Kia Sportage 4x4 Review
- 2008 Lexus RX400h Hybrid Review
- 2008 Lexus GX470 Review
- 2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid FWD Review
- 2008 Nissan Pathfinder Review
- 2008 Nissan Armada Review
- 2008 Suzuki SX4 Review
- 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX Review
- 2008 Toyota Prius Hybrid Review
- 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser Review
- 2008 Volkswagen Touareg Review
- 2008 Volkswagen Touareg Review
- 2008 Volvo C30 Review
©2009 Katrina Ramser