You know a BMW is getting old when you have to insert a conventional key and turn it to start the engine. This isn’t a bad thing, it just shows you how quickly BMW has added new functions to their cars. In addition, the X3’s navigation system doesn’t have an iDrive controller, there is a water temperature gauge, and the indictor and wiper stalks don’t reset to a neutral position after each selection.
As has been the case since it was launched, the X3 is still too expensive, not very big inside, and has a brittle low-speed ride even without the sport suspension option. Additionally, I don’t find it very attractive. With Audi’s new Q5 and Volvo’s XC60 about to be launched, BMW should work double time to launch the new version of their small SUV as soon as possible.
Marc Noordeloos, Road Test Editor
Time for the cliché freak-out as it relates to the price of a BMW. Just last night I was trying to explain to a friend how different automakers package options and how quickly those packages can send the price of a given vehicle into the realm of obscene. Little did I know I had a perfect example of the practice sitting in the driveway. The premium package and navigation systems can easily go away to save you $4500 in options without giving up the BMW feel, but things like a $150 cargo net and $1000 cold weather package are insanely priced and I don’t want to give them up. Nobody is expecting a BMW with an economy car price, but I can’t stomach the X3’s price.
Yes, this X3 is showing its age. The transmission programming isn’t as crisp as that of the automatic in the 3-series, the ride isn’t as luxurious and supple as the newer luxury crossovers, and the interior pieces don’t feel as modern as newer BMWs. It’s time for a new X3 to compete with the likes of the Audi Q5, Mercedes GLK, Infiniti EX35, Volvo XC60, and even some of the non-luxury crossovers like the Mercury Mariner.
It’s not all doom and gloom for this Bimmer. I’m always happy to find a 3.0-liter I-6 behind the kidney grille. The power delivery is perfect and the engine is very refined. The problem is I want that engine in a 1-series or a 3-series, not an X3 3.0si.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor
The X3 certainly has the reflexes of a BMW, with sharp steering and good body control, and the X3’s inline six is still one of the best engines in the world. Unfortunately, the X3 is starting to show its age. Its interior is lacking in some of the refinements found in newer offerings, and the ride is simply too harsh (a complaint we’ve had since this vehicle was first introduced). BMW has had the luxury of effectively having the small/midsize luxury SUV segment to itself for years, but the Mercedes-Benz GLK, the Audi Q5, and the upcoming Volvo XC60 are going to force BMW to step up its game with the X3, lest it get outshone in the marketplace.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
2008 BMW X3 3.0si
Base Price (with destination): $38,775
Price as tested: $47,650
-Cold weather: $1000
-Premium pack: $2700
-Cargo net: $150
-Park distance control: $700
-Xenon lights: $800
-HD radio: $350
-Premium audio: $675
Fuel Economy: (17/24/20 mpg)
Size: 3.0-liter I-6
HP: 260 hp
Torque: 225 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed auto
Weight: 4067 lbs
Wheel/Tire Info: 235/55R-17 all-season