Redesigned for the 2018 model year, the BMW X3 carries a lot of baggage — and we're not talking about the luxury SUV's 62.7 cubic feet of available cargo room. A lot is riding on the X3's overall balance and driving dynamics because, after all, this is an SUV from the car company that supposedly builds "the ultimate driving machine." Does BMW's reputation for driving excitement cross over to its crossovers? On paper, the signs are promising.
Related: 2018 BMW X3 Crushes Crash Tests
For anyone who craves acceleration, the optional 355-horsepower, turbocharged six-cylinder engine in the M40i packs plenty of punch. BMW estimates the M40i accelerates from zero-to-60 mph in only 4.6 seconds. While the more affordable xDrive30i version is about 1.4 seconds slower to hit the same speed, this model is far and away the one most people will buy — and that's why it's what we chose to test it for Cars.com's 2018 Luxury Compact SUV Challenge.
Motivated by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that delivers 248 hp and 258 pounds-feet of torque, the xDrive30i routes its power to an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is standard on all X3 trim levels regardless of which engine you choose. BMW's Driving Dynamics Control offers a choice of three drive modes: Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport. Depending on which you choose, each mode adjusts drive functions including suspension firmness, the immediacy of the gas pedal and transmission shift points.
Inside the businesslike cabin, the gauges are crisp and clear, while nicely textured soft-touch materials cover many surfaces. BMW has also updated the iDrive infotainment system, which comes standard and is fitted with a 6.5-inch touchscreen interface. A larger 12.3-inch digital instrument panel is optional, as are features like a panoramic moonroof, heated seats, keyless entry and larger wheels (our test vehicle rode on 19-inch Y-spoke alloys).
The BMW X3 went up against six other luxury compact SUVs in our 2018 Luxury Compact SUV Challenge. This multicar comparison test included a strong list of candidates that also included the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio, 2018 Audi Q5, 2018 Cadillac XT5, 2019 Infiniti QX50, 2018 Lexus NX 300 and 2018 Volvo XC60.
Be sure to check back on June 4, when we'll reveal which SUV ranked as the best choice among luxury compact competitors!
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