First Look: 2011 BMW X3

#BMW, #X3

The X3 has a double-joint spring-strut suspension in front and a multi-link rear suspension. Models equipped with the Electronic Damping Control (EDC) get shock absorbers that adjust to road conditions and driving style. EDC offers three driving settings that change the power steering assist level, transmission settings, and engine throttle response.

Even with more dynamic driving characteristics, compared to the outgoing model, the 2011 X3 is 0.5 inches taller, 3.4-inches longer, 1.1-inches wider, and has 0.5 inches more ground clearance. The wheelbase, at 110.6 inches, has been extended 0.6 inches. BMW purists may complain about the X3's bloated dimensions, but rear seat passengers certainly won't. The second row seats have far more leg and elbow room than the outgoing X3. Cargo capacity, BMW boasts, is the largest in the segment at an estimated 56.6 cubic feet with the second row folded.

Further forward in the cabin, the optional navigation system's display takes center stage. The nav system includes the fourth generation of iDrive and an 8.8-inch high-resolution trans-reflective screen. Drivers of the new X3 may notice the SUV is quieter at highway speeds yet still responsive to a jab of the accelerator pedal.

All X3s benefit from fresh styling that is recognizable to current X3 owners yet still brings the model up to date with BMW's latest design direction. A more upright hood and body-colored front fascia improve the X3's styling in front while a bold character line sweeps up the side of the doors. Another character line adds interest above the rear wheels and yet another one starts from the tip of the headlights. Whether the changes make the 2011 X3 more attractive or just plain busy, is personal preference.

The most significant missing puzzle piece now is price. A base 2010 BMW X3 retails for just under $40,000, a price significantly higher than all-wheel-drive competitors from Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Acura. Priced aggressively, the 2011 X3 has the potential to regain leadership in a class of vehicles it helped to popularize.

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Fosco
No Manual? NO SALE! After several months of research, I am all set to order the new X3 with all options including the manual tranny as soon as the local dealer got the go ahead to accept orders. The biggest reason I chose the BMW was for the manual but since BMW has apparently decided to sh*tcan their most desirable feature, the one thing that makes a BMW a BMW, I'll start all over without that brand. I need an SUV with a manual, period.

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