By Cars.com EditorsMay 10, 2011
About the video
Cars.com's Mike Hanley takes a look at the 2011 BMW X3.
<v Narrator>Cars.com Auto Reviews. Hi, I'm Mike Hanley with cars.com. BMW was at the forefront of the small luxury crossover segment when it introduced the X3 as a 2004 model.
But since then, there are a number of new competitors out there like the Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLK class. So for 2011, it has a redesigned X3, and there are a number of important changes to this important model for BMW. As you look at the new X3, you can see that the styling is all new, from the sheet metal on the sides to the headlights, to the grill, everything is different. But it's one of those vehicles that is really an evolutionary design. It still has a remarkable resemblance to its predecessor, and it has an overall pretty athletic look to it. One of the big complaints with the prior X3 was that it had a really firm harsh ride. And that was kind of a disappointment in that model. But BMW has addressed that with the redesigned X3, giving the driver a much more compliant, comfortable driving experience, like an easily handled, even broken, rutted pavement. So that's a big change for this model. I think a big change in the right direction that should help this vehicle appeal to more luxury shoppers. One of the things I like about the new X3 is that it bucks the trend we've been seeing lately of more enclosed cabins with limited visibility, because this one has really good visibility all around, thanks to large side windows and really thin roof pillars. Overall interior quality in the cabinet is kind of a mixed bag because it's good up high where you're most likely to look. But as you go down lower on the side doors to lower trim pieces, it decreases significantly. More so than I think in other BMWs of late. Now, their front seats offer pretty good comfort, but the optional leather that they have was panned by a number of editors. They just didn't think the quality was where it should be for a model like this. The X3 actually offers pretty good leg room for adult passengers. But we notice that you sit pretty low to the floor with your knees elevated a little bit. It'd be nicer if you could sit a little higher because you do have some room to spare back here. Also the backrest is fixed and we're seeing more and more luxury crossovers have adjustable backrests. One of the nice things about the X3s cargo area is that it has a really low lift over height. So when you're loading your suitcase or your golf bags into the cargo space, you don't have to clear a tall bumper. And when you fold down the back rest, if you need more space, they lie flat with the cargo floor. The redesigned X3 remains one of the more engaging small luxury crossovers to drive thanks to respectable handling. And when you add good power and a nice ride, I think this model is well positioned to take on all its new challengers. <v Narrator>For more car related news, go to cars.com or our blog kickingtires.net.