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BMW X3 xDrive30i: bigger and better

BMW x3 xDrive30i Photo courtesy of BMW

Third time’s the charm for this latest X3 generation.

BMW’s best-selling crossover, the X3, keeps getting larger. The third-generation X3 is even bigger than the original X5, its larger sibling. It also keeps getting better, even if the latest version looks much the same as earlier versions.

Not long ago, BMW’s interior fit and finish didn’t measure up to the automaker’s German competitors. Now it’s first-rate. BMW’s iDrive infotainment controller, once a nightmare, works well in conjunction with a touch screen and simple buttons or knobs for features like heated seats and radio volume.

For a compact crossover, the X3 is spacious inside, with room for three in the backseat and space for cargo behind. Most X3s come with a turbo 4-cylinder (a muscular 6-cylinder is optional); it’s a super-refined engine that’s combined with a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission. As expected of the “Ultimate Driving Machine,” handling is agile and responsive, though the steering is a little vague around the center.

Also typical of a BMW, costly options can provoke a severe case of sticker shock. But for 2019, BMW has added a price leader, an sDrive RWD model; at about $42,000, it’s a couple of thousand dollars less than the xDrive AWD X3. Forward-collision warning and low-speed forward automatic emergency braking are standard on all X3s. And American buyers may be pleased to know that this Bavarian Motor Works vehicle is assembled in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Vehicle layout: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4 (248 hp), 8-speed automatic, AWD

MSRP, base model: $41,995 (as tested: $55,970)

MPG, city/hwy/combined: 22/29/25

Crash-test ratings: NHTSA: 5 stars overall; IIHS: good (all ratings), Top Safety Pick Plus

Basic warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles

Final Assembly: United States

Spare tire: None (run-flats)

For more reviews, go to a no-hassle experience when purchasing a new or used vehicle with AAA’s free Car Buying Service. Go to or call (800) 709-7222.

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