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NEW CAR REVIEW: 2018 BMW X3 Review By Larry Nutson

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2018 BMW X3
Premium Athleisure

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

The X3’s engine is from Austria, the transmission from Germany and yet the whole vehicle is built in the United States.

BMW builds its X-series Sports Activity Vehicles (SAV) for the whole world in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Yes, the X3 is built right alongside the X4, X5 and X6. Over 400,000 BMW X-models are produced in what is the largest BMW Group global production facility. Approximately 70 percent of the vehicles are exported to 140 markets worldwide, thereby making BMW the largest vehicle exporter in the U.S. by value.

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For 2018 the X3 is completely new. The X3, now the third generation, features a longer wheelbase, new front and rear designs featuring BMW’s kidney grille, new fog lights and LED headlights as well as LED tail lights. The all-new BMW X3 is the first BMW SAV in the US to feature a factory-installed trailer hitch.

I drove an X3 xDrive30i that has a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder making 248 horsepower under its hood. There’s also a X3 M40i that features a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder that puts out 355 horsepower. All X3s are all-wheel drive and both engines use an eight-speed automatic.

For comparison, BMW says the xDrive30i reaches 60 mph from rest in 6.0 seconds and has a top speed of 130 mph. The M40i sprints from 0 to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and hits a top speed of 155 mph.

My X3 media-loaner had a base price of $42,450. It was loaded with a number of options pushing the total to $57,620. BMWs tend to rise quickly in total cost as options get added. However, BMW’s wide range of options does allow for lots of choice and personalization.

The M40i is priced at $54,300 and in addition to the six-cylinder engine many items that are optional on the xDrive30i are standard on the M40i. For example, the $2,850 Convenience Package and the $1,400 Dynamic Handling Package were options on my test car but are standard on the M40i.

Autonomous vehicles and self-driving cars seem to pop up in the news everyday. We’re not there yet but BMW offers a full contingent of today’s driver assistance and semi-automated driving features. For example, Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go has the capability to brake the car to a halt in stop-and-go traffic and automatically restart to drive.

An available Driving Assistance Package includes Active Blind Spot Protection, Lane Departure Warning, Daytime Pedestrian Protection, Frontal Collision Warning with City Collision Mitigation, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Speed Limit Info with the Navigation system.

An available Driving Assistant Plus Package offers additional safety features, namely: Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Active Lane Keeping Assistant with Side Collision Avoidance, Traffic Jam Assistant, Evasion Aid & Cross Traffic alert front and rear.

I recommend serious consideration be given to buying these features. If they save you from just one crash they will have paid for themselves.

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The 5-seat X3 offers decent comfort both front and back. The high seating position typical of SUVs allows for an expansive and clear view out. Inside the cabin things are pretty quiet while you sit surrounded by upscale materials with great fit and finish.

Behind the 40/20/40 split-fold rear seat there’s 28.7 cu.ft. of cargo space that opens up to 62.7 cu.ft. with the rear seat folded. With the optional $550 tow hitch you can tow up to a 4,400 lb. braked trailer.

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A power tailgate makes for easy rear access. A rearview camera helps tremendously for tight maneuvering and safety when backing. And, the power-folding feature on the outside mirrors helps a lot in a crowded city.

The X3 has decent drivability and delivered good acceleration, highway merging and passing in my Chicagoland driving. As is characteristic of BMWs, ride quality is quite good with very compliant and responsive suspension tuning that nicely soaks up rough city streets without being tooth-jarring. An 8-inch ground clearance allows for occasional unpaved road or deep show adventures.

EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings are 25 mpg combined, with 22 city mpg and 25 highway mpg. It’s been my experience with BMWs in general that you can easily match or exceed the highway rating on long highway drives.

Staying connected is what we do today and the X3’s touchscreen has a nice look to it. Personally I like its position mounted high on the instrument panel. The latest version of iDrive allows you to use the rotary controller, buttons, voice commands and even the optional gesture recognition. Apple CarPlay is optional and operates wirelessly.

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Additional product information, specifications and pricing can be found at Most every new vehicle these days offers a very comprehensive warranty. A nice element to BMW’s is their maintenance program that covers all scheduled maintenance for 3 years or 36,000 miles.

In general, SUV sales passed traditional cars in late 2016 and have only widened the gap from there. Most recently SUVs and crossovers surged to 45% of U.S. sales. Why? Athleisure. Almost half of U.S. residents over the age of 6 — some 144 million people — are now involved with some outdoor endeavor.

The 2018 BMW X3 is a very competent luxury SUV with an overall size that makes it very suitable for urban living. It also has adequate interior space to enable comfortable athletic or outdoor gear hauling either around town or for a weekend in the outdoors.

© 2018 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

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