View Local Inventory
SAVE

2011 BMW X3

$8,856 — $18,952 USED
Sport Utility
5 Seats
22 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
Compare 2 trims

Overview

Is this the car for you?

The Good

  • Improved ride comfort
  • Dynamics
  • Stout power from base engine
  • Visibility
  • Gas mileage

The Bad

  • Off-the-line hesitation
  • Kickdown lag
  • Stops can be jerky
  • Inconsistent materials quality
  • Quality of optional leather
  • Limited backseat thigh support
2011 BMW X3 exterior side view

What to Know

about the 2011 BMW X3
  • Redesigned for 2011
  • Eight-speed automatic transmission
  • Choice of six-cylinder engines
  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • Optional panoramic moonroof

Our Take

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

Cars.com's Mike Hanley takes a look at the 2011 BMW X3.

by Mike Hanley -

The BMW X3 may have been a pioneer among compact luxury crossovers, but a number of competitors — including the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class and Volvo XC60 — have entered the fray since its debut as a 2004 model. Now, with the second-generation X3, BMW has new metal to take them on.

The 2011 BMW X3 is still the small luxury crossover of choice for driving enthusiasts, but its substantially more forgiving suspension tuning should make the new version far more appealing.

I tested the base xDrive28i, which starts at $36,750; with options, our test car's sticker price was $43,875. For a side-by-side comparison with the competitors mentioned above, click here.

Ride & Handling
One of my lasting memories of the prior-generation X3 was its extremely firm ride, which led to a choppy driving experience on rough roads. It was disappointing, to say the least, because BMWs often strike an impressive balance between decent ride comfort and top-tier handling. In the old X3, such comfort was nowhere to be found.

Fast-forward to 2011 and the new X3, and the experience is significantly better. The redesigned X3's suspension is much more forgiving on potholed pavement — much the same way a 3 Series is — but maintains the balanced handling that earns BMW respect in enthusiast circles. Toss the X3 into a corner, and after some initial body roll it steadies itself and gives you confidence to go faster. There's no getting around the fact that the X3 isn...

by Mike Hanley -

The BMW X3 may have been a pioneer among compact luxury crossovers, but a number of competitors — including the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class and Volvo XC60 — have entered the fray since its debut as a 2004 model. Now, with the second-generation X3, BMW has new metal to take them on.

The 2011 BMW X3 is still the small luxury crossover of choice for driving enthusiasts, but its substantially more forgiving suspension tuning should make the new version far more appealing.

I tested the base xDrive28i, which starts at $36,750; with options, our test car's sticker price was $43,875. For a side-by-side comparison with the competitors mentioned above, click here.

Ride & Handling
One of my lasting memories of the prior-generation X3 was its extremely firm ride, which led to a choppy driving experience on rough roads. It was disappointing, to say the least, because BMWs often strike an impressive balance between decent ride comfort and top-tier handling. In the old X3, such comfort was nowhere to be found.

Fast-forward to 2011 and the new X3, and the experience is significantly better. The redesigned X3's suspension is much more forgiving on potholed pavement — much the same way a 3 Series is — but maintains the balanced handling that earns BMW respect in enthusiast circles. Toss the X3 into a corner, and after some initial body roll it steadies itself and gives you confidence to go faster. There's no getting around the fact that the X3 isn't as rewarding to drive as are BMW's cars — its taller stance degrades the driving experience — but it's one of the most fun-to-drive compact luxury crossovers available today.

Contributing to the driving experience is the X3's standard rear-biased xDrive all-wheel drive. The system does a good rear-wheel-drive imitation when accelerating out of a corner; the X3 squats a little over its outside rear wheel and holds the line it's on.

There was a time when you could bulk up your forearms just by commuting in a BMW, but today they have much more power-steering assistance, resulting in lighter, easier steering; driving up and down the spirals of a parking garage is a breeze. While this comfort-oriented nature may draw scorn from BMW purists, it's the right choice for a luxury crossover.

Going & Stopping
The xDrive28i's 3.0-liter, inline-six-cylinder engine is unexpectedly stout, and it makes this two-ton crossover pretty quick; BMW cites a zero-to-60-mph acceleration time of 6.7 seconds, and you never get a sense that the engine's working hard. A more powerful xDrive35i with a turbocharged six-cylinder is offered, but the base model is by no means underpowered.

Contributing to both acceleration performance and fuel economy is the X3's new eight-speed automatic transmission (a manual gearbox isn't offered). The addition of two more forward gears versus the old X3's automatic results in more optimized ratios, and the drivetrain gets an EPA-estimated 19/25 mpg city/highway. That's ahead of the all-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz GLK350 (16/21) and the base engine in the all-wheel-drive XC60 (18/24), but it trails the base turbo four-cylinder in the Q5 (20/27).

Not all is well with the drivetrain, however, as more than one editor complained of accelerator lag, primarily during standing starts. Kickdown response is also lacking; there's a noticeable pause from the time you floor the gas pedal until the transmission drops a few gears for passing power. A Sport mode is included, and it helps enhance the drivetrain's responsiveness by keeping the transmission in lower gears longer.

Despite decent pedal feel, it's difficult to come to a smooth stop in the X3. Whether it's the fault of the automatic transmission stepping down through the gears or the crossover's standard Brake Energy Regeneration system, the result is jerky stops.

The Inside
The X3's redesigned interior continues the sparse, minimalistic design approach that BMW favors, but it does a better job of integrating the center screen, which serves as the display for the standard iDrive system.

Unfortunately, the quality of the materials inside degrades the lower you look. While our test car was fitted with a nice-looking upper dashboard and classy optional wood trim, the center control panel was plain. As your eyes move down to the door pockets, you see they're made of cheap-looking shiny plastic, complete with rough edges that say "economy car" more than "luxury crossover."

Another aspect our editors panned was the X3's optional leather upholstery, which lacks appropriate richness. In terms of cushioning and support, though, the front bucket seats are comfortable.

It's nice to see the X3 bucks the trend of decreasing visibility that plagues many new cars. It has thin roof pillars and lots of glass, resulting in good all-around views.

Backseat legroom is acceptable for adult passengers. The seat cushion, though, is too low to the floor, leading to a knees-up seating position that reduces thigh support. Unfortunately, the 60/40-split backrest doesn't recline.

Safety
Standard safety features include antilock brakes, side curtain airbags, active head restraints for the front seats and an electronic stability system.

For a full list of safety features, visit the Standard Equipment & Specs page. To see how well child-safety seats fit in the X3, check out MotherProof.com's Car Seat Check.

X3 in the Market
The compact luxury crossover segment has undergone a revolution since the first-generation X3 debuted. Both the Q5 and GLK-Class have become popular sellers, while X3 sales have lagged behind.

The redesigned X3 puts BMW in position to retake some of the market thanks to its more forgiving ride. Despite some shortcomings, it's still luxurious enough to cut it in this segment, and its more competitive starting price that's about $2,000 less than the 2010 X3 won't hurt, either.

Send Mike an email  


Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.9
63 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.9)
Interior Design
(4.7)
Comfort
(4.8)
Reliability
(4.7)
Value For The Money
(4.6)

Read reviews that mention:

(4.0)

Perfect sporty AWD

by Mya from Roanoke, va on November 14, 2018

Great drive. But, I would have chosen the black leather instead of beige or tan if I bought it over again. Prone to coolant leak after 100k. Weird sticky handle grip material that needs to be ... Read full review

(5.0)

Most comfortable car I owned

by Autofan from Ca on November 7, 2018

Plenty of cargo space and a lot of options. We drove a lot in this car and it is a very comfortable ride. Test drive one and you?ll fall in love Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2011 BMW X3 currently has 4 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2011 BMW X3 has not been tested.

Warranty

New car and certified pre-owned programs by BMW

New Car Program Benefits

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    48 months / unlimited distance

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits

  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    Certified Pre-Owned Elite with less than 15,000 miles; Certified Pre-Owned with less than 60,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    1 year/unlimited miles from expiration of 4-year/50,000-mile new car warranty

  • Powertrain

    N/A

  • Dealer Certification Required

    196-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All CPO Program Details

Latest 2011 X3 Stories

Change year or vehicle

0 / 0 0 Photos
0 / 0

Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The X3 received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker