2011 BMW X3

xDrive28i AWD 4-Dr Sport Utility I6

xDrive28i AWD 4-Dr Sport Utility I6

2011 bmw x3 Reviews and News

2011 BMW X3 Front Left View
When the BMW X3 was first launched, way back in 2004, it was somewhat of a bargain basement BMW, and it suffered a few flaws. The first was an obviously cost-cut interior and the second was a seriously harsh ride. Although the X3 was thematically similar to the pioneering X5, it was very much a step down not only in price but also in execution.
2011 BMW X3 Left Side View
Nuzzling up to the X5
With the smaller and (presumably) cheaper BMW X1 poised to enter the U.S. market, it's not surprising that the new X3 has grown larger, more sophisticated, and much closer to the X5.
The new styling certainly looks more akin to the X5, particularly as it's laid out on a body that is 3.4 inches longer. Other dimensions have increased as well, but more modestly. Width is up by 1.1 inches and height and wheelbase have grown by a fraction.
More so than the new design, the new X3's interior has been upgraded, and now feels like a full-fledged member of the BMW family. Materials are rich and the layout of the dash and the controls -- complete, naturally, with iDrive -- is familiar.
From one engine, to two
Then there's the powertrain. The previous version was available with a lone, 260-hp straight six. Now there are two engine options: a normally aspirated six (240 hp), in the xDrive 28i; and a turbocharged version of the same 3.0-liter (300 hp), in the xDrive 35i. That latter serves also as the base engine in the X5 (and both engines appear elsewhere in the BMW lineup).
Previously, BMW gave X3 buyers a choice of an automatic or a manual transmission, both six-speeds. A manual is rare in this segment, and now it's even rarer, as BMW has dropped it; in the U.S. market, the new X3 comes with an eight-speed automatic only. As before, all-wheel drive is standard, and has a sporty, rear-biased (40/60) default torque split.
When the new X3 35i paid a visit to the Ann Arbor home office, associate editor Eric Tingwall characterized the eight-speed automatic as overactive and abrupt. I couldn't agree more. With sport mode selected, the combination of so many gears, very aggressive throttle mapping, and instant-on engine power can lead to some wildly hyperactive responses from the powertrain. Strangely, I haven't experienced that with this engine and transmission pair in any other BMW.
2011 BMW X3 Rear Right View
Things are a lot less frenetic in normal mode, where the turbo six can still rocket the car ahead at the flex of a right ankle. BMW advertises a 0-to-60 time of 5.5 seconds, which is a lot faster than the old model's 7.1 seconds. (The normally aspirated, 240-hp 3.0-liter does it in a claimed 6.7 seconds.)
Toggling between modes is done with the optional Driving Dynamics Control selector. There are normal, sport, and sport-plus modes, which control throttle and transmission mapping, steering effort, stability control programming, and damper firmness (with the additionally optional electronic damping control).
Dialing up Sport-plus mode is useful for recreating the punishing ride of the old X3. Most people, though, are likely to appreciate the improved ride quality of the new car, as served up by the normal mode.
Looks like an X5, drives like an X5, priced like an X5
Besides the Driving Dynamics Control system, there is a long list of optional features and packages on the X3, but those whose check boxes with gleeful abandon are in for a nasty surprise. At first glance, the X3 seems quite reasonably priced, in the context of its competitors. The base xDrive 28i, at $37,625, is actually less expensive than the previous car, while the turbocharged xDrive 35i, at $41,925, is a couple thousand dollars more. Still, both X3 models nestle between the two Audi Q5s in price, and they straddle the Mercedes-Benz GLK 4Matic. But start piling on the option packages, and the xDrive 35i (in particular) can zoom towards the $60,000-dollar mark. That's plenty rich for a compact crossover -- it also is deep into X5 territory. Sophistication, evidently, does not come cheap.
2011 BMW X3 xDrive35i
2011 BMW X3 Front Left View
Base price (with destination): $41,925
Price as tested: $52,025
Standard Equipment:
3.0-liter twin-turbo six-cylinder engine
8-speed automatic transmission
xDrive all-wheel-drive system
Dynamic Stability Control w/Brake Drying, Brake Stand-by, Start-off Assistant, and Brake Fade Compensation
Hill Descent Control
4-wheel disc brakes w/ABS and Dynamic Brake Control
Xenon adaptive headlamps w/LED corona rings
Automatic headlamps
LED adaptive brake lights
Rain-sensing wipers
Audio system w/AM/FM/CD/MP3 and iPod and USB adapters
iDrive system
Nevada leather
18-inch Y-spoke wheels
Performance Control
Dynamic Damper Control
Fineline Siena wood trim
Options on this vehicle:
Convenience Package
- Power tailgate
- Keyless entry and ignition
- Cargo net
- Rear side-window shades
Cold Weather Package
- Heated steering wheel
- 40/20/40 split rear-seat backrest
- Heated front and rear seats
- Headlight washers
Premium Package
- Garage-door opener
- Panoramic moonroof
- Auto-dimming mirrors
- Lumbar support
- Storage package
- Interior light package
Technology Package
- Backup camera with top view
- Park Distance Control
- BMW Assist w/enhanced BT & USB
- Navigation system w/real-time traffic information
Roof rails in aluminum satin
Satellite radio
Key options not on vehicle:
Head-up display
Sport Activity Package
- Sports leather steering wheel with shift paddles
- X-line exterior trim
- Sport seats
- Roof rails in aluminum satin
M Sport Package
- 19-inch wheels
- High-gloss roof rails
- M Sports leather steering wheel with shift paddles
- Performance control
- Sport seats
- Aerodynamic kit
- Anthracite headliner
- Sport automatic transmission
- Shadowline exterior trim
Fuel economy:
19 / 21 / 26 mpg
3.0L I-6 turbo
Horsepower: 300 hp @ 5800 rpm
Torque: 300 lb-ft @ 1300-5000 rpm
8-speed automatic
Curb weight: 4222 lb
Wheels/tires: 18 x 8.0-in wheels, 245/55R18 tires
Competitors: Audi Q5, Cadillac SRX, Mercedes-Benz GLK
2011 BMW X3 Side View
Nineteen-ninety-nine wasn't so long ago that we've forgotten the hullabaloo over the prospect of BMW building a sport-utility vehicle -- and building it in America, no less. But the original X5 was a real BMW after all, a 5-series-based charmer that heroically set up the 3-series-based X3 that followed a few years later. Unfortunately, the X3 proved somewhat less than worthy of its BMW roundel. It wasn't bad to look at and it was difficult to fault in the powertrain department, but road manners were on the iffy side and its lackluster interior was a serious downer. The package improved with a top-to-bottom refresh for 2007, but let's just say there'll be few tears shed over the passing of the first-generation X3.
2011 BMW X3 Side View
From the curb, there's no mistaking the entirely new 2011 X3 for anything but an X3, but don't hold that against it. This is a superior vehicle: swifter, more agile, and significantly more refined than its predecessor. The sheetmetal is decidedly more twenty-first-century. The car is stout and handsome from most angles, with a dramatic swoosh on its flanks and character creases all over (the hood alone has six). The kidney-shaped grille openings are larger and tipped forward, and the headlamps are smaller but just as weirdly shaped as the old model's. At the rear, the taillamps are neatly refined, although we could do without the body-color valance under the rear bumper.
Like the exterior, the passenger compartment is generally easier on the eyes and a superb place to while away the miles. The driving position is unsurprisingly terrific, and, at last, material quality is above reproach. Advanced technology is plentiful, neatly integrated, and, for the most part, genuinely user-friendly. Even the infamously confounding iDrive interface seems easy to navigate nowadays. The downside (and it's a minor one) is that the new X3's cabin is a bit less commodious than that of the outgoing model. Front-seat legroom and rear-seat headroom are down marginally, and the center console seems a bit broader than it needs to be.
The situation under the hood is a whole lot more interesting. BMW has again split the X3 into two models (as it was when the car arrived in 2004). The X3 xDrive28i is the value leader. Like the base 3-series, it employs BMW's normally aspirated 3.0-liter in-line six, good for 240 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque. The 28i was notably absent during our test drive of the new X3, but joyful experience with BMW's sweet N52 engine in other models bodes well for it. The top-drawer X3 xDrive35i packs BMW's new N55 3.0-liter straight six that produces a round 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque.
2011 BMW X3 Rear View
The TwinPower label on the engine cover no longer refers to two turbos, but instead to a single, dual-scroll turbocharger. Moving this 4222-pound vehicle, the sonorous turbo engine is a delight. Both engines use a new eight-speed automatic gearbox. The manual transmission is gone, but with a much broader ratio spread, the eight-speed makes the new X3 both quicker off the line and more fuel-efficient on the interstate. According to BMW, 60 mph arrives in a scant 5.5 seconds (compared with 6.7 for the new 28i and 7.1 seconds for the outgoing X3 30i with the six-speed automatic). Top speed for both models is electronically limited to 130 mph, although the 35i's optional sport package raises its terminal velocity to 150 mph.
BMW's fine xDrive all-wheel-drive system is standard; rear-wheel drive is not available -- a missed opportunity, perhaps, considering that a not-insignificant 40 percent of Mercedes-Benz GLK350s are rear-wheel drive. That said, xDrive is exceptionally easy to live with, rain or shine, with a sporty 40/60-percent fore/aft torque split under normal driving that can shift to 100 percent aft when the time is right -- providing some carefully controlled tail-happiness when powering out of a bend, for instance.
As was its predecessor (and all of its rivals, come to think of it), the new X3 is more a gifted all-roader than a bona fide off-roader, although 8.4 inches of ground clearance and the ability to ford almost twenty inches of water aren't too shabby. Over a few miles on some hilly two-tracks in rural Georgia, the new X3 acquitted itself quite well, with generous wheel travel over ruts and rocks and impressive tenacity on loose sand and gravel.
2011 BMW X3 Side View
The 2011 X3 xDrive28i starts at $37,625. That's a skosh more than a rear-wheel-drive Mercedes GLK350 ($36,375) or a Quattro-equipped Audi Q5 2.0T ($36,075) but less than the 2010 X3 30i ($39,725). The X3 xDrive35i rolls for $41,925, and although it's well-equipped right off the rack, BMW is keen to breathe new life into a high-margin car-buying trend: the special order. The company has concocted a rather enticing haute-couture program for the X3 that should resonate with its younger, tech-savvier buyers.
As little as four weeks after the usual check-box order process at their local dealership, buyers retrieve their new X3 at BMW's sparkling and newly expanded factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina, a visit that includes a production-line tour, a one-night stay with meals, and driving instruction at the BMW Performance Center. To make the game even more appealing, special-orderers can choose from two exclusive shades of leather upholstery and three metallic paint colors (including the only shade of red). Buyers even receive video baby pictures of their X3 rolling down the line. Special order, indeed.
The Specs
On Sale: January
Price: $37,625/$41,925 (xDrive28i/xDrive35i)
Engines: 3.0L I-6, 240 hp, 221 lb-ft; 3.0L turbo I-6, 300 hp, 300 lb-ft
Drive: 4-wheel
025 2011 BMW X3 Front Drivers Side Three Quarter View
BMW's X3 -- the small SUV that critics love to hate -- has finally earned a comprehensive rethink. Born seven years ago two strides behind the also controversial X5, the original 3-series-based X3 excelled in handling but suffered from a brutal ride, cramped accommodations, austere furnishings, and a dear price. In spite of those shortcomings, the Austrian-built X3 sold well and earned an avid following, in large part because BMW implemented numerous year-by-year course corrections.
016 2011 BMW X3 Front Drivers Side Three Quarter View
Now the new X3 leaps from long-gone E46 3-series underpinnings to the more competent E90 platform. Magna Steyr, BMW's original manufacturing and development partner, is out of the picture and production has been relocated to BMW's Spartanburg, South Carolina, assembly plant (where X5 and X6 sport utes are also manufactured for worldwide distribution). The third leg of the X3's revival stool is a combination of usefully larger dimensions and beneficial powertrain changes.
All of the X3's birthmarks-including the rising character line through the rear quarter window--are still clearly evident in this second generation. Thanks to a 3.5-inch increase in track width (front and rear) and a 1.2-inch gain in overall width, the precursor's awkwardly tall proportions have morphed into a more confident, securely planted shape. A modest 0.6-in. increase in wheelbase combined with a 3.1-inch overall length stretch have done wonders for access and interior room. (Note: all dimensional changes are approximate since final specifications have not yet been released.) Proof that BMW engineers took this revival seriously is the fact that the new X3 is a few pounds lighter than the original thanks to more aluminum in the suspension and a shift to thinner-gauge high-strength steel in the body shell.
The new X3 has effectively taken over the size category vacated by the X5 when it grew for the 2007 model year. This leaves room in the lineup for the two-inches-shorter X1 crossover due next year.
Inside, there's nearly no trace of the bygone hard-plastic era. The optional leather trim is French-seamed to a faretheewell with attractive contrasting stitches. A new electronic display screen located at the top of the center stack is a permanent fixture for all models whether or not a navigation system is purchased. Centrally located twin cupholders are also standard fare, BMW's nod to our penchant for road-going refreshments.
To no one's surprise, an I-Drive controller is finally standard X3 equipment. Seven support buttons surround the main rotary knob and BMW insists that the latest improvements make this system intuitively easy to use. One remaining I-Drive annoyance is BMW's illogical use of MLS to abbreviate MILES.
While there are incremental gains in front seat space, the real breakthroughs are found in the X3's second row and cargo hold. A lower and much wider door opening provides significantly easier entry. With the rear wheel wells moved further outboard, there's additional hip and elbow room. A lower center tunnel and additional space between the center console and the rear seat facilitates side-to-side transfers. While the center seating position is stiffly padded to accommodate a fold-down armrest with cupholders, there is ample head, leg, and shoulder room to carry three adults in a pinch and two in comfort. Moving the outermost weather seals from the body to the door has greatly reduced the chances of soiling trouser legs upon entry.
07 2011 BMW X3 Back Seat
Moving the rear wheels outboard and increasing the hatch's opening width has done wonders for the space and utility provided by the cargo hold. Door panel pockets are now large enough to carry 1-liter beverage bottles.
Handy Bluetooth cell phone communication and convenient IPod hookups are now standard in the X3. Auxiliary audio connection sockets are more logically located and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters are included with the optional sport package. BMW intends to offer a fuel saving automatic engine stop-start system at some unspecified point in the new X3's lifetime.
With the optional Dynamic Drive Control, one console switch adjusts the dampers, throttle response, and transmission shift points. The usual Normal, Sport, and Sport Plus positions are provided. By dialing into I-Drive, it's also possible to decouple chassis and powertrain settings in the Sport Plus mode.
In spite of a wealth of added creature comforts, the X3's steering column tilt and telescope movements are still managed by a simplistic single-lever release instead of the power adjuster that is common fare in the $40,000-plus crossover category.
The powertrain report is a mix of good and bad news. As before, all-wheel drive is standard X3 fare. The base model, which will be labeled X328i, will be powered by the normally aspirated 3.0-liter six that has been available since this crossover's birth. A single-turbo 3.0-liter six should give the more upscale X335i class leading power and torque. While no ratings have been released, BMW engineers tout 12-percent more horsepower, 27-percent more torque, and 9-percent better fuel economy than current editions of this engine. If those prognostications are true, the X335i will have at least 330 horsepower in its holster.
When the crunch of CAFE regulations arrives in a few years, BMW will likely add both a turbo-diesel and a four-cylinder gasoline engine to the X3's powertrain menu.
027 2011 BMW X3 Front View
While the current X3 is one of the few crossovers offered with a manual transmission, its replacement will drop the stick shift option. BMW cites a low take rate and certification costs as the obvious reasons. Between both of the available six-cylinder engines and the drive wheels, there's a smooth shifting and fuel economy boosting 8-speed ZF automatic transmission with a handy manual-mode and optional paddle shifting. Unfortunately, this transmission is programmed to deliver an automatic upshift at the redline in its manual-shift mode.
The standard on-demand all-wheel drive system, still called Xdrive, is shared with the big brother X5. Power to the rear axle is provided by a permanently engaged mechanical connection. A computer controlled multiplate clutch routes a measured amount of torque to the front axle. In normal driving the torque split starts at 40:60 f:r with adjustments as needed to maintain forward momentum in slippery or aggressive cornering conditions. To help the open front and rear differentials keep the wheels turning and to minimize understeer, the Dynamic Stability Control system has the authority to momentarily apply the brakes at any wheel and to automatically open the throttle to send extra torque to the outside rear wheel.
The X3's suspension hardware is an offshoot of the equipment that underpins mainstream 3-series models. At the front there's a double-ball-jointed strut-type suspension with coil springs. The rear axle is a coil-sprung multilink arrangement similar to the suspension fitted to 3-series sedans equipped with Xdrive. Substantial front and rear anti-roll bars are included to deal with the X3's elevated center of gravity. Run-flat radials are standard equipment in 17-, 18-, and 19-inch sizes. No less than three different electrically assisted steering systems will be offered: a base system, a Servotronic speed-sensitive upgrade, and a sport steering option with ratios that vary according to wheel position instead of road speed. In every case, the electric assist motor is geared to the steering rack rather than to the pinion shaft to optimize the amount of road feel delivered to the steering wheel.
A brief test drive in one X3 pre-production camouflaged prototype in the wilds of Bavaria convinced us that BMW is finally ready to compete in earnest with the nine other premium grade entries that currently crowd the compact crossover class. Chassis development engineer Heinz Krushe, the individual most responsible for making every BMW feel and act like a BMW, revealed clear and concise goals: maintaining the X3's agility while improving its ride comfort and general behavior. "We listen to and take care of our customers," Krushe stressed. "Some of them complained that the X3's ride qualities weren't up to BMW's high standards so we made absolutely sure that this new model would please them."
021 2011 BMW X3 Side Profile
It all starts with a significantly stiffer, though lighter, body shell that serves as an unyielding foundation for steering and suspension operations. Give the X3's leather-wrapped wheel a smart yank and there's a swift yet predictable change in path. The steering effort builds nicely and body motions feel constrained by invisible outriggers. Abrupt maneuvers don't shake the X3's composure and it corners surprisingly flat with a full load of passengers onboard.
The best news is that the punishing ride motions are gone. The suspension meets the bump and grind of bad road travel with a suppleness and compliance absent from the current X3. Potholes that send tremors through the old body structure are dealt with in a smooth, trauma-free manner. Pressed for an explanation as to how this was achieved, Krushe revealed that damper calibrations were changed to provide a steady, linear rise in the amount of wheel motion control in place of the tight initial damping followed by gradually diminishing control used previously.
In back-to-back comparisons with the current X3, we also observed worthwhile brake system improvements. In contrast to the mushy feeling feel of the current model, the new X3's brake pedal is firmer, more communicative, and more responsive to pressure instead of travel.
The camo wraps will finally be taken off the new X3 at this fall's Paris auto show and its stateside debut is scheduled for the Los Angeles auto show in December. Production in Spartanburg begins that month and dealers will commence deliveries by March of next year (a few months in advance of the X1's arrival.)
After our brief exposure, we'd say that the new X3 finally has exactly what it needs to be a strong, possibly dominant player in the expensive compact crossover class.
BMW X3 Roadtrip Delivery Greenville Side
A handful of new product launches contribute to the positive September sales numbers posted by all German brands. Volkswagen experienced the highest gains last month, which also coincides with the launch of the all-new, U.S.-built 2012 Passat. Audi also had success with the introduction of the 2012 Audi TT-RS.
BMW X3 Roadtrip Delivery Birmingham Rear Three Quarters
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a small number of 2011 BMW X3 SUVs are being recalled due to power steering issues. Last week, BMW recalled its larger BMW X5 for an unrelated steering issue due to possible cracks in the welds of the belt tensioner.
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Just as they did last month, German automakers have each posted overall sales increases for May. While all brands saw sales growth this past month, the big winner once again was Volkswagen with a respectable 27.9-percent gain over May of last year.

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2011 BMW X3
2011 BMW X3
xDrive28i AWD 4-Dr Sport Utility I6
19 MPG City | 25 MPG Hwy
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2011 BMW X3
2011 BMW X3
xDrive28i AWD 4-Dr Sport Utility I6
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2011 BMW X3 Specifications

Quick Glance:
3.0L I6Engine
Fuel economy City:
19 MPG
Fuel economy Highway:
25 MPG
240 hp @ 6600rpm
221 ft lb of torque @ 2750rpm
  • Air Conditioning
  • Power Windows
  • Power Locks
  • Power Seats
  • Steering Wheel Tilt
  • Cruise Control
  • Sunroof (optional)
  • ABS
  • Stabilizer Front
  • Stabilizer RearABS
  • Electronic Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Locking Differential (optional)
  • Limited Slip Differential (optional)
  • Airbag Driver
  • Airbag Passenger
  • Airbag Side Front
  • Airbag Side Rear (optional)
  • Radio
  • CD Player
  • CD Changer (optional)
  • DVD (optional)
  • Navigation (optional)
50,000 miles / 48 months
50,000 miles / 48 months
Unlimited miles / 144 months
Unlimited miles / 48 months
Recall Date
Potential Units Affected

NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Rated
IIHS Roof Strength
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
IIHS Overall Side Crash
IIHS Best Pick
IIHS Rear Crash

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