The previous X3 suffered from two major flaws: a cut-rate interior and a punishing ride. Both have been addressed with this latest X3. The new, high-quality interior looks and feels much like that in any other BMW. Of course, iDrive -- BMW's multifunction controller -- is present. As for ride quality, it has improved and can be fine-tuned to the driver's preference with the optional Driving Dynamics Control selector and Electronic Damping Control. The Driving Dynamics Control system also varies steering effort, accelerator responsiveness, transmission shift mapping, and stability control programming. We've found that calling up either of the sport modes makes for hyperaggressive throttle response and frenetic shifts from the eight-speed automatic; the normal mode is just fine. There's certainly no need to artificially amp up the energy level of the X3's powertrain. The turbo engine is potent enough to launch the X3 to 60 mph in only 5.5 seconds; even the base 240-hp six can reach 60 mph in 6.7 seconds. Both versions are more economical than the old X3. Strangely, the more powerful, turbocharged model actually gets slightly better EPA highway ratings than the standard X3; both get the same mileage in town. Although you wouldn't choose the 28i to save gasoline, you might do it to save money, as it's some $4000 less expensive than the 35i. Either model can quickly get pricey when loaded with items from BMW's mile-long list of options. In fact, it's not hard to push the X3 into X5 territory.
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