By on January 31, 2015

X3 Exterior

If you’ve been around the automotive journalism long enough (and by long enough, I mean like three months in total), you’ll begin to realize that a lot of press vehicles you drive aren’t indicative of what most people actually buy. Most test vehicles have five figures worth of options, with features that at most, an auto journalist will expend 50 words on. Meanwhile, on lots across the country, most dealers probably have one or two very loaded cars which end up being discounted heavily towards the end of the quarter.

My experience of full-optioned press cars had to do with a silver BMW 335i xDrive Gran Turismo at a local auto journalist event. While the base price of the car was $47,775, this car had almost $12,000 in options, or enough to buy an E36 M3 in good condition. “Let’s give it the more powerful engine, all-wheel-drive, the dynamic handling package, and the M Sport package” the person in charge of configuring the 3-Series GT must have thought, “at least auto journalists will say it handled very well and forget about the styling.” This car even had head-up display and the $650 M Sport brakes.

Even when I was searching for road tests of the X3 online, I good majority were reviews of the powerful xDrive35i version or for the new diesel model. So when I had access to a 2015 X3 xDrive28i for a few days, I leapt at the opportunity to write a review on it, because it was the version most X3 buyers purchased.

Now, this 2015 BMW X3 xDrive28i that I’m writing about is not a vehicle designated for press people. In fact, it belongs to my dad, and while he chose the color combination, I chose most of the options. As a result, I can’t blame whoever specs BMW’s press vehicles. So the fact it doesn’t have the navigation system, which saves me a paragraph describing it? My fault. That it doesn’t have heated seats? My lapse. The fact that it doesn’t have parking sensors or a rear-view camera? My bad. The fact that I still don’t know what the $500 “Enhanced USB/Bluetooth with Smartphone Integration” option does? I really need to get on that.

As for the things I am proud of, it’s the Deep Sea Blue exterior color and Oyster color interior. (A quick note on the Oyster leather: it’s surprisingly easy to stain, so be careful when wearing jeans or leaving a pen on the seat.) This one also has the Premium Package with a massive moonroof and keyless entry, the xenon lights, and the Harman/Kardon sound system. And all of it was available at an MSRP south of $50K.

Before reading the rest of the review, you might think, “He must have recommended this car to his dad if he’s writing about it! This is totally going to be a love story about the X3!” Believe it or not, I recommended the Jeep Grand Cherokee Ecodiesel, as a very well-equipped one came in easily under $50,000, got good fuel mileage, and I thought it handled very well for its size. But my dad drove it and dismissed it as too big.

Other cars considered were Lexus RX (too soccer mom-ish), Toyota 4Runner (too truck-ish), Toyota Highlander (this is for replacing the minivan). The Mercedes GLK, Audi Q5, and Range Rover Evoque were dismissed as my dad is a BMW person. (For background, the man kept an E39 530i running for 13 years, which is two more than the 1990 Accord he had.) I don’t think he drove any of those alternatives, and neither have I, so I won’t definitively say the X3 is the best out of all those alternatives.

First, I’ll focus on the interior, which is about the same size as the interior of the first-generation X5. It’s a pleasant place with chrome accents and wood trim in the right places. The Oyster interior helps considerably too. The cupholders are usable, which is important when coming from a car in which both cupholders (if you can call them those) are broken. The panoramic moonroof that’s part of the Premium package was great for the scenic photos when driving down Highway 1. In fact, the X3 managed to easily fit five adults and their luggage for a weekend. Moreover, the Harmon/Kardon sound system is a pretty good upgrade from the normal sound system.

However, if you’re over 6”3’, more than 200 pounds, and might need a third seat, don’t consider the X3. Otherwise, when sitting in the driver’s seat, your head will hit the ceiling and you’ll probably find the seat not wide enough. Additionally, while I wrote in the last paragraph that the X3 could seat 3 full-size adults, just make sure the cumulative weight doesn’t exceed 500 pounds. And if you’re a family of four who takes their dog with them on road trips, the X3 is not your car.

Though the options list is long, there’s surprisingly (for a BMW) a lot of standard features. The storage package, which includes cargo nets, a collapsible cargo box, and a reversible mat, is standard. So is the automatic climate control. Even the ambient lighting that I praised is standard. The tailgate and side mirrors are power-operated. However, the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel is not power-operated, which coming from the 530i, was a disappointment.

Whenever I discuss the exterior, I generally don’t focus too much on styling. But the X3 was facelifted for the 2015 model year, with most of the differences being on the front clip, with the headlights that connect to the grille. BMW offers two appearance packages: the xLine package and the M Sport body kit. Personally, I don’t like the look of the M Sport package (or sport packages in general), while the xLine has the silver trim bits for the faux off-roader look, which I don’t mind. There are also turn signals on the side mirrors. One thing I did like was the exterior lighting beneath the door handles when getting into the car. BMW got the ambient lighting very, very right. Also, the X3 comes with the foot sensor as standard

Regarding performance, I didn’t push the X3 to its limits because a) it belongs to my dad and not BMW of North America, and b) it has less than 1400 miles on the odometer so the drivetrain still needed to be broken in. It has a 2.0-liter inline-four with a twin-scroll turbo that makes about 240 hp. According the BMW website, it can go from 0 to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, which is quicker than the 530i it’s replacing. On the highway, I never found myself complaining about lack of power, even when it was fully loaded with five people. If you need something faster, the xDrive35i with 300 horsepower is about $5,000 more.

I briefly played with the different powertrain modes, which were: Comfort, Sport, and Eco Pro. Eco Pro makes the X3 rear-drive only and ensures the transmission is in the highest gear possible for the best mileage. I found myself using it in high traffic situations, where quick throttle response wasn’t needed. Sport mode sharpened up throttle response, but I found myself never using it and suspect most owners won’t either. Usually I drove the X3 in its default mode, Comfort, in which I didn’t need to press the throttle closer to the floor and when all-wheel-drive was on.

For those of you contemplating the diesel version of the 2015 X3 (the xDrive28d model), I considered that one too. In fact, I even put a deposit on one until we were informed that Hawaii (no joke!) was allocated the last X3 diesel build slots for a 2014 delivery. However, since the diesel is $1,500 more expensive and the price of premium gas has gone down significantly, the normal xDrive28i is a viable alternative. Also, my dad test drove the diesel X3 (while I was in the back seat playing with the air vents) and found the power deficit noticeable compared to the normal version and noisy at lower speeds.

Ultimately, if you have $50,000 to spend on a luxury five-passenger crossover, you can’t go wrong with the X3. When we were buying the X3 at the end of last year, it became easier to find a 7-Series in a dealer’s inventory in Northern California than any version of the X3. It was even easier to find an Audi S4 than an X3. They’re that popular. So BMW must be doing something right with the X3 (or they’re exporting more abroad for higher profits, or the X4 took up a good portion of the assembly line) that people are snapping them up left and right.

In the end, I understand why. The xDrive28i is surprisingly well-priced as long as you don’t go overboard with the options.  It handles nicely, can accelerate quickly, has a pleasant interior, has four years of free maintenance, and can take a lot of cargo. My dad, and not me, made an excellent decision, and neither of us have any regrets. Except for the “Enhanced USB/Bluetooth with Smartphone Integration” option. I still haven’t figured that one out.

Satish Kondapavulur is a writer for Clunkerture, where about a fifth of the articles are about old cars and where his one-time LeMons racing dreams came to an end, once he realized it was impossible to run a Ferrari Mondial. He still prefers the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel.

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99 Comments on “Reader Review: 2015 BMW X3 28i...”


  • avatar
    Brian E

    $50k and no heated seats or navigation? I can (maybe) understand that in a sport sedan, but for what is fundamentally a cute ute, I don’t get it. I always thought that the lack of such features on the base model was just a ploy to advertise a low starting price, not an actual configuration that somebody would buy or order.

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      If you’re keeping a car for more than a couple of years, the factory nav is going to be outdated for most of your ownership of the car. Better to save the money and buy a decent standalone unit. (This, incidentally, is why I am not buying another long term car without Android Auto or CarPlay.)

      And the author appears to be in California, so heated seats probably aren’t all that useful.

      That said, BMW has pretty ridiculous ideas about what constitutes standard equipment. Metallic paint is free on a *Versa*, for goodness’ sake.

      • 0 avatar
        derekson

        Carplay/Android Auto support is definitely game changer here. I’m sure the manufacturers are loathe to give up the overpriced built-in navigation systems, but being able to plug in a phone and display up to date maps and other apps right in the car is going to be a massive step forward. On the plus side for manufacturers, it means they can stop wasting money on development of proprietary systems that are always 5 years out of date and less responsive than a 10 year old phone.

        • 0 avatar
          dtremit

          I don’t think the manufacturers are going to give up much revenue, in the end. Instead of selling the nav system to a few buyers for $2k, they’ll end up selling the upgraded touchscreen to a ton of buyers for $1k hidden in a trim level or package.

          And that lets them sell the nav software and GPS antenna for $500 to all the people who don’t know what CarPlay is and now think they’re getting a bargain.

          • 0 avatar
            Mandalorian

            Yeah, not getting heated seats or nav doesn’t really make sense to me either.

            Also that is a VERY expensive 4-Cyl.

            My Q7 cost about as much and I got a Supercharged V6. After hearing about the staining, glad I went with the black interior.

        • 0 avatar
          skeeter44

          This has been apparent for some time but don’t expect the manufacturers to have the same viewpoint. They are going to keep their heads in the sand as long as possible.

      • 0 avatar
        Fred

        I got heated seats in Houston because I bought a used car from Nebraska that came with them. Yea I don’t need them, but when it does get cold it’s pretty nice to have a warm tush in a hurry.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        Agree o the nav, our new car (2014 MY) has nav and I honestly prefer using Waze on my phone and streaming it over bluetooth – easier to enter addresses, and better at recognizing and negotiating traffic. Plus the Waze GPS lady sounds more natural than the robot lady in the car. Having the moving map is nice but ultimately not important; I can still see the moving map from the car if I want though. Overall I could easily live without factory nav if it was a standalone option and not part of a package that had other features I wanted.

        As for heated seats, that’s one of the cheapest options on a BMW, generally $500-1000. As for a buyer or dealer not speccing it when they order it, I can only assume they live in a climate where they don’t get winter, or are simply trying to save a buck. Anywhere that the temp gets below 30 on a regular basis I’d say they’re pretty much required though.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        The problem isn’t whether or not the factory nav is cutting-edge; it’s whether it was well-designed in the first place. Waze is actually a pretty good benchmark for comparison; the live traffic data is nice (though you can get similar feeds elsewhere), but the app and the interface are absolute garbage. If your factory nav is inferior to Waze, it was a piece of crap to begin with.

        Plus, you’re missing out on the sort of slick integration only the OEM can do. For example, I love being able to see directions in my HUD and navigate without voice prompts or cluttering up another screen. That’s something you can’t do with a phone app.

        I agree that CarPlay/Android Auto has the potential to be a game-changer. I’m not holding my breath, though.

      • 0 avatar
        energetik9

        “..the factory nav is going to be outdated for most of your ownership of the car.”

        For the vast majority of users, this is an exaggeration. Only the most tech oriented would see this as a reason not to get factory nav, which compared to the auto buying population is rather small. My third car is a 2008 Honda pilot w/factory nav. Although I’ve noted on here on how much I dislike the pilot and I will add that Honda nav is a disappointment overall, it still works just fine and it comes with added features, such as a back up camera to name just one. I’m sure 95% of nav users want to either just see where they are and/or plug in an address and route. The car is 7 years old, the nav works fine and likely will for the life of the car. Personally, I will never purchase a car again without nav, not only for getting around, but because of the added feature set a nag package brings to the car.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Heated seats are very useful in the SF Bay Area, I think even more so than areas with actual cold. In real winter, I find myself so bundled up that the heaters in the seat back don’t make it through my coat, and the contrast between the seat bottom and my ass is so severe it feels like a hot plate. In NorCal, it isn’t cold enough to bother with a coat, but it can get chilly enough (mornings and evenings) to enjoy heated seats. Seriously, I get more out of them NorCal than I did in Boston.

        Some people find heated seats ridiculous (usually people that have never had them), but I don’t know why anyone would drop $50k on a car without getting them, even in NorCal.

    • 0 avatar
      Satish Kondapavulur

      The way I looked at it, navigation was a $2100 option. That’s a powerful new computer or a couple unlocked iPhones, which will be much more useful. As for heated seats, we’re in Northern California, and my parents never use them, so we didn’t get those too.

      • 0 avatar
        Brian E

        What boggles my mind is that options like these – especially heated seats – are still separate add-ons on the BMW, when they’re standard features on the competition. You’ll find no argument from me about built-in navigation going obsolete, but my preferred fix for that would be for manufacturers to return to the days of double-DIN stereos. Alas…

        • 0 avatar
          energetik9

          These features are how they are sold are common among German makes that I know of. There are plenty of places where people just don’t care about heated seats. Have you look at the Porsche build your own site?

          I just don’t get the Nav obsolete argument. Sure that was true in the 90’s, but not sure how it is now. Unless your looking for 3D views, most nav systems in the mid 2000’s on are still very competitive. You also benefit from added features and on screen application, typically far easier to use on a nag screen.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        $2100 is pretty steep just for a nav, not sure if there was anything packaged with it to mitigate the pain. That said, I am increasingly growing tired of juggling power adapters, usb cables, and mounts to use the phone as a nav, only to still be dependent on carrier coverage to use my preferred nav application.

        I’m warming up to OEM navigation.

    • 0 avatar
      Counterpoint

      Navigation systems were cool … in 2005. In 2015 they are a useless anachronism just like CD players. Smartphone integration is the way to go for forward thinking car makers.

  • avatar
    bikephil

    And no backup camera either?? At least they can brag to their country club friends that they have a “beeeemer”…

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Aren’t back-up cameras a requirement in the US?

    • 0 avatar
      Satish Kondapavulur

      You know, I found myself not worrying about that as soon as I got used to the car. It’s not as long as you might think and was surprisingly easy to parallel park without sensors.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        That doesn’t matter. The point is this car should come standard with a back up camera. I can see lower level cars, but this is the so called luxury segment…isn’t it?
        And no mention of the biggest turn off to me…the start/stop mpg tool that drove me nuts at every stop light.
        It was extremely imposing and immediately drove me away…that and the run flats.
        ” So BMW must be doing something right with the X3 (or they’re exporting more abroad for higher profits, or the X4 took up a good portion of the assembly line) that people are snapping them up left and right.”
        So again, the same excuse given the Honda is it must be good since it sells so well.
        No.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          On a vehicle I can see out of anyway, I see no need for a backup camera. Visibility out the back of an X3 is very good, though admittedly, I am very tall. Though I don’t disagree that for the price it should be standard, or at least included in the Premium Pkg.

          You can have the dealer turn off the start/stop permanently, or disable it yourself temporarily by pushing the button above the start button. I like the idea of it, but I do find it to be annoying in stop and go traffic, as it has no idea of how long you will be stopped. Great in the traffic light to traffic light stuff.

          Modern runflats are fine, I am much more annoyed by having no provision for a spare if you want to add one yourself. But I haven’t had a flat in 25 year plus, so I simply don’t worry about it. I am 100% certain that the spare in my Rover is completely unsafe to actually use, and the one in My Spitfire might actually be 40 years old! I probably should just take it out of the car.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            I just find it odd that you can still get an SUV with no back up camera, yet even cars like the Miata have them standard.

            Imo they should not be required, we have mirrors to see behind us.

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            I did not know you could have dealers turn off stop and go …really good to know.
            and I still like a spare…even a bicycle spare.
            It seems like you are asking the tire rotators to do push ups when you require the spare as part of the 10K rotation. But I insist.
            Seems like ALL my tires are developing tire rot these days. My Michelins only have 44K and I was told last week they have it s well. On a 09 Mazda6.

            And the point about back up cameras is not fully understood. The best performance are from those with wide views. The most accident avoidance success has been in parking lot reverses.
            Wide views allow you to see approaching pedestrians and cars sooooo much easier.
            Couldn’t live without one today…since all my cars have lost all D pillar visibility.

  • avatar
    319583076

    Oyster interior is “surprisingly easy to stain”. Huh, whoda thunk it? Black Sensatec is the way to go.

    For a vehicle this big, I would’ve opted for the bigger engine. BMW inline sixes are legendary. I’ve driven a few and would agree.

    I don’t have any experience with the new turbo fours, but if it were my money, I wouldn’t want to stress a turbo four with this much weight.

    Thanks for the real world review, it’s one of TTAC’s fundamental advantages against the other automotive blogs.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      A rig this big definitely needs an EMD 710 to pull its weight without too much stress.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        How strained is it if it’s powerful enough to get to 60 in 6.2 seconds?

        • 0 avatar
          05lgt

          Not towing an emd 710 it won’t.

          Less sarcastically, all drive trains see stress based on the power/torque they are delivering. A light car accelerating quickly and a heavy one doing so ponderously with the same power demand are under the same stress.

          Back to the sarcasm/ the mighty EMD 710 makes over 1000 HP out of any 4 of its 12 cylinders. 250 HP per sounds more impressive before you realize the 710 is each cylinders displacement in cubic inches. That’s under stressed.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            The earth-shaking basso profundo soundtrack of a diesel locomotive would be far better than piping fake engine noise through stereo system, as well.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I don’t get the wailing and gnashing about the fake sound. If it sounds good, who cares how they do it? Honda has been using active sound management on the upper level Accords for ages, IIRC, and GM has used it as well. I don’t find it any different than Mazda very carefully tuning the exhaust pieces for the Miata to make it sound “just so”.

            Ultimately, it is all about bringing in the sounds you want to hear, while keeping out the sounds you don’t want to hear. I think it is great to get “engine” without getting a heaping helping of road noise and tire roar. And making it louder in Sport and Sport+ is brilliant, I want as much quiet as possible in Comfort.

    • 0 avatar
      Satish Kondapavulur

      I’m glad you liked the review. I seriously considered 6-cylinder, but performance was better than the 530i it was replacing, and fuel mileage even with AWD and extra money for the 6-cylinder swung it towards the 28i.

    • 0 avatar
      Satish Kondapavulur

      I’m glad you liked the review. 6-cylinder was seriously considered and is very fast, but the 4-cylinder was faster than the 530i it was replacing, was about $3,000 cheaper, and got really good fuel mileage considering AWD.

    • 0 avatar
      Satish Kondapavulur

      I’m glad you liked the review! 6-cylinder was seriously considered and is very fast, but the 4-cylinder was faster than the 530i it was replacing, was about $3,000 cheaper, and got really good fuel mileage considering AWD.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      Honestly with how good the turbo 4 is, I don’t really see the point in the 6 unless you want flat-out speed.

      If I was buying it myself I’d opt for the 4 as well. There’s always Dinan if you want a little bit more power.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      “Mazda very carefully tuning the exhaust pieces for the Miata to make it sound “just so”.”

      You make a good point, enthusiasts jump to hate fake engine sounds yet Mazdas accoustic tuning is just fine, because Miata.

      Imo I prefer electronic accoustic engineering, at least I can disable it.

  • avatar

    “Meanwhile, on lots across the country, most dealers probably have one or two very loaded cars which end up being discounted heavily towards the end of the quarter.’

    I must say this is rather inaccurate, especially of premium/luxury vehicles. High-ticket max MSRP vehicles often abound while strippers do not. Of course, it all depends on allocation, but generaly speaking its easier to find a full-tilt BMW/Merz/ETC than a true stripper.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    50 K for this CUV is sheer crazy to me but hell if BMW can sell them like that more power to them, it seems a little light on the standards compared to some other cars or car companies but I guess the german bullet proof reliability makes up for that, and I drive a german wagon so I feel I can say that. Enjoy the light interior, I have one in my car, black is to hot and to drab for me, you can always get the interior detailed once a year. To me it is worth it, I also have a huge sunroof and love it.

    • 0 avatar

      I also have a German wagon with a huge sunroof and the lighter interior. It is being detailed as we speak because I accidentally stained the upholstery with some new denim jeans…

    • 0 avatar
      ExPatBrit

      Mostly they don’t sell them, they r̶e̶n̶t̶ lease them. So it’s just the payment.

      When leasing almost no one checks the price.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Don’t be ridiculous. The price determines the lease payment. As does the resale. They do not subvent these things by very much, they don’t have to.

        If you are going to buy a new car every 3yrs anyway, as MANY buyers of $50K cars are wont to do, you might as well lease it and take all the uncertainty out of it.

    • 0 avatar
      Eyeflyistheeye

      Which German wagon do you drive and what maintenance has it needed since you’ve owned it?

      The myth of the super-reliable German car pretty much died after the W140 when Juergen Schrempp and friends started selling image instead of engineering.

      • 0 avatar
        seth1065

        I have a VW tdi wagon, bought new, know at 100,000, it has a DSG so fluid changes for tranny every 40 K , no issue knew that going in, The fuel pump went within two years ( VW paid that no questions asked) sunroof drains clogged and got water in my spare tire well, The AC compressor went within a year, ( turns out if was a valve but dealer wanted to replace whole AC compressor, I declined since it was on my dime) one of the seat belts has stopped working , I am on my third seat belt for that, VW paid for the first 2, A sunroof motor gear broke, ( I will give VW the benefit of the doubt here as my daughter was driving the car so maybe operator error but a $1200 repair to replace a $30 gear) and I may need an injector next , price is not to bad about $300. I drive a ton and the car rides well , gets great mileage about 40MPG and is solid but I think you should not expect repairs on a three year old car bought new, maintenance yes, no issues, but to be on your third seat belt in three years, no. Overall VW has been pretty good on paying for stuff, but I never had an issues like this on my hondas in the past.

        • 0 avatar

          Same. Jetta SportWagen TDI, also with the DSG. Mine’s pretty new. I bought it six months ago, so it’s a 2014, but it’s got nearly 15,000 miles on it already, thanks to my 31 mile commute (each way). The only issues I’ve had were early build issues, which were that the rear-wiper assembly and sunroof guard needed to be replaced.

        • 0 avatar
          Occam

          Wow! This is like hearing long-time domestic guys 15-20 years ago. Except they’d always follow up with, “You know, just the normal stuff. Pretty reliable car!”

          Am I the only one who thinks that warranty repairs are something you shouldn’t actually know about firsthand? It’s there for peace of mind, not for actual use. I’ve had one GM car, and after having take it to the shop three times for warranty issues (thermostat, battery, and something wonky with the ECU) in three years, I was done with that bucket of bolts – I got rid of it before the warranty could expire.

          Maybe you just got a bad one… Or maybe when you’re selling against Peugeot and Renault in your home market, it’s easy to be a mediocre fish in a awful pond.

          • 0 avatar
            seth1065

            Well for me I was out of warranty in the first year of driving it, so when VW paid for the fuel pump I was well out of warranty so I was happy they stepped up and covered it, if I sold a car when I got out of warranty It would have been gone ten months into the loan. I will say the car has never left me by the side of the road , has starred everyday, Not sure what you mean about warranty repairs are something you should not know about firsthand?? Any time I took it to the dealership I got a loaner and the dealer was about 5 miles away so I could deal with that. My decision will be when be when it is paid off do I run it into the ground or sell it and buy something else and if so what to buy that will hold up to how I use a car. The bright side is I get a very good auto allowance from my job . I am hoping I got all the PITA stuff out if the first three years. we will see.

          • 0 avatar

            Well, ideally there’d have been no issues whatsoever, but I’m not tripping over those two; they *are* pretty minor.

            As far as the reliability of my car, I’m not deluded. A lot of German car buyers—and indeed Japanese car buyers a well—feel like their car is “THE MOST PERFECT CAR EVER AND ANYONE WHO SAYS ANYTHING BAD ABOUT IT IS A LIAR FROM HELL”. I’m not that person. I’m not so blind that I think I’ll have a Honda-like experience in my Volkswagen. My expectations are on par with what you’d expect out of a modern German car. It costs more to maintain than your typical Honda and at some point it will probably cost me some amount of money to put something right, but I chose it anyway because when it works, it works really, really well.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            Thermostat and battery in three years?

            That’s hardly A Terrifying Glimpse Of Things To Come.

            The ECU, maybe iffy.

            (Remember, the thermostat is … a mechanical temperature controlled valve actuated by … some wax.

            Sometimes they’re just gonna fail early, and it’s hard or impossible to tell in advance from outside.

            No manufacturer can prevent that from happening sometimes.

            Ditto sometimes batteries fail early, even premium ones. That’s why they HAVE warranties.)

  • avatar
    JohnnyFirebird

    You could totally get a XC60 T6 AWD pretty damn loaded for that price. Just saying.

    As for the loaded vehicles, the thing is that people who want a loaded car tend to want to be able to pick out every option and colour too – so odds are that the one they want isn’t the one that the company required the dealer to buy. (Dealerships DON’T want a fully loaded version on the lot, but often are required by the company to take some, A: to demonstrate every feature and B: to meet production requirements).

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, you could do a XC60 Platinum R-Design at or just over $50K, and that’s probably what I’d buy if I were in this segment. But the author makes it seem that his dad’s car came in well under $50K…not that even $50K X3s are *that* well-equipped…

    • 0 avatar
      Satish Kondapavulur

      Problem with XC60 T6 is that we know a lot of people with XC90s who complained about them. Regarding the dealers and loaded cars, one of the interesting things I encountered was that Grand Cherokees with MSRPs between $46K and $54K were really difficult to find, and I was being flexible on colors. That observation ended up being part of the review.

      • 0 avatar

        The XC90 T6 had a different engine than the XC60 T6. The XC60’s engine is actually a Ford inline-6, and indeed the XC60 uses many Ford parts and is on a Ford platform. And the main issue with the XC90’s T6 powertrain was its improper application of a GM-sourced transmission. The XC60 is pretty solid.

        • 0 avatar
          TrailerTrash

          Lovin the XC60 T6. Saw one the other day while I was getting my Mazda6 serviced next door.
          I try and try…but simply cannot find a better SUV at the 43K this beauty was. It had just so much and the interior was soft as can be and great storage and simplicity. Power!? supercharging to start and turbo later on.
          Wonderful.
          And 30 MPG overall.

        • 0 avatar
          wmba

          The only thing Ford about the Volvo straight six is that Ford made it in their Welsh factory. The original 3.2 naturally aspirated was based on the five cylinder Volvo was already making.

          The wikipedia entry says Ford SI-6, but/and as we all know they’re always right. If Ford had indeed designed the engine, it might have been a nicer one. Not a fan of late model five and 6 cylinder Volvos.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Not the case with BMW. BMW does not build a car until it has been ordered by *someone*, whether that someone is a dealer or an end customer makes no difference at all. If you see a really odd-ball color or option combo at a BMW dealer, it inevitably is a special order that didn’t happen.

      How the cars get spec’d is very much dependent on what the dealer thinks will sell. I can tell you that the inventory at my local dealer in Portland ME looks a whole lot different than at the one in the tonier suburbs of Boston. Pretty basic cars up here, much more loaded down there. Nice thing about BMW, special orders are generally quick and painless, so they do a ton of them. Get it your way, just like Burger King.

      The XC60 is a fine car, but the BMW is a whole lot more fun to drive, having driven both quite a bit now. Have good friends with each.

      • 0 avatar

        If and when I replace my Jetta SportWagen, a 328d wagon is under consideration. And as the 328d wagon is fairly rare and never seems to be around with the options that I’d want, I’d probably special order it. But I also like the X5…which I admit costs a lot more and isn’t a wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The dealerships do want a fully loaded vehicle on the lot and they are not “required” to take them.

      You do get people who come into the dealership that want everything and the dealer wants to have at least one or two on the lot with everything.

      It is true that some mfgs produce vehicles they don’t have an order for but when they do that they normally produce middle of the road equipment combinations. To get rid of them they offer them to the dealer with discounts, or will give them an extra allocation of some in demand vehicle when they purchase some of the cars that they have extras of.

      Now the mfg will make the rental car companies take a certain percentage of fully loaded vehicles to get the best discounts or qualify for a buy back program.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Nice choices on the options, half the stuff just looks silly “enhanced Mp3 player support”.

    Whats the more powerful engine? Is it a different engine entirely or just an ECU trick?

  • avatar

    Nope. The 3-Series (including the M3) and the X3 have never had a power-adjustable steering column…

    • 0 avatar
      Satish Kondapavulur

      I didn’t know! Considering the size of the X3, which is the same as the first-gen X5, and the face that MSRPs can easily hit $55K, I’m amazed the steering wheel isn’t adjustable.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, features like that are really hit-and-miss with compact luxury CUVs. Some of them (NX, GLK, MKC) have power-adjustable steering columns; others (X3, XC60, Q5, RDX) don’t. I do know that even on the previous-gen E70 X5, the power-adjustable steering column was not standard in the base, *base* trim. I don’t know if it’s standard on the F15 X5…

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Adjustable, yes.

        Power-adjustable, no.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Without sitting in the new X3, I’m pretty certain the steering wheel is adjustable. I thought you just meant it didn’t automatically move up and out of the way after shutting the car off like the E39 and original X5 do.

  • avatar
    JRobUSC

    I have a 2013 X3 28i, and the MSRP was about $50k and it has navigation, backup camera, surround view cameras, parking sensors, etc. So $50k does get you a pretty decked out vehicle.

    Also, EcoPro does not make the vehicle “rear drive only”. You cannot turn off xDrive on any BMW model — even if you have everything in maximum sport/sport+ mode with all the traction aids off, xDrive is still active. The xDrive system can transfer 100% of the power to the rear (or to the front) if needed, but the default split is 40/60 and the vehicle determines where to route the power. The driver can’t turn it off.

    • 0 avatar
      Satish Kondapavulur

      I was going by that pictorial figure when I put it in Eco Pro mode. MSRP for this was around $48k, so it is possible to get some more options. Also, the 2015 X3 also got a price increase and destination charge is $950, so the price has really climbed since 2013. So the nav had to go. :(

    • 0 avatar
      PJmacgee

      Definitely doesn’t affect xDrive operation. But I do remember reading on a BMW forum somewhere that EcoPro does run the engine hotter/leaner for 0.00001% better mpg, which doesn’t seem like a fair trade, so I never use it. Disabled start/stop permanently too, that doesn’t pass the mpg:wear’n’tear ratio test for me either.

  • avatar
    JGlanton

    An X3 xDrive 28i with Premium Pkg and Harmond Kardon surround sound system retails for $46K and can be had for $43K.

    When I was looking at X5 diesels, the only ones in stock in my area were base models with the sensatec. The salesman said that most buyers wanted the diesel model without the expensive add-ons

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    @Satish,
    I do have a soft spot BMWs.

    Did your father buy this vehicle due to it’s perceived prestige value?

    He did consider the Grand Cherokee.

    If you only wanted an AWD CUV why did you not look at a fully blinged Kia Sorento? They are an attractive enough vehicle, cheaper, with more to offer in bling?

    I do know that the Kia Sorento in the US market is manufactured in one of the Carolinas and our Sorento here in Australia comes from Korea.

    But the build quality of our Sorento is surprisingly good. Better than the Grand Cherokees we have from the US.

    So considering size was an issue for your father (putting his BMW desire as!de), why not cons!der the Sorento?

    • 0 avatar
      Satish Kondapavulur

      Since he didn’t like the Highlander and RX, I didn’t consider Sorento. Plus the X3 is still sporty without Sport Package. Sorento is good, but he wouldn’t need the third seat, would still find it big, and at most, three or four people travel in the car. It’s more like a minivan replacement. If you have a young family, I’d recommend looking at the Sorento though.

  • avatar
    Joss

    And you know I’d bet the electronics on a humble-rumble Mirage more reliable than many luxury brand built-in margins.

    I spy CUV made to look brand rather than a really good CUV.

    • 0 avatar
      Eyeflyistheeye

      My gut feeling tells me the Mirage will be a cockroach in terms of reliability compared to the X3 butterfly. Mitsubishi makes durable, if uninspiring and outdated vehicles, and the Mirage is designed for third-world conditions with crappy roads, haphazard maintenance and abuse galore.

  • avatar
    baconator

    What led your dad to the X3 and not the X5 or X1? Obviously it’s the “Goldilocks / just right” choice for many, because they’re flying off the lots, but I’m curious as to the lifestyle and logic that gets people there.

  • avatar

    Not a fan. X3- you had the $. Got to the right dealer…came away with the wrong car. You coulda had a 3 sedan or wagon…..

    I agree with top gear on this one. every time i got an x3 loaner, I’d cringe….

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Some people prefer to sit higher up for numerous reasons, like comfort. That would be me.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        If you like comfort, the wagon rides very noticeably better. Simple physics, you can make a taller vehicle ride well or handle well for a given level of technology, but not both relative to a lower vehicle with the same level of technology. The X3 handles VERY well, at the expense of ride comfort compared to the 3-series wagon.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          “Minivan replacement” does not say “sedan”, and “wagon” is iffy at best…

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          I thought that had more to do with weight than ride height, meaning on the X3 the suspension has to be stiffer to keep the extra weight under control, while a car with less weight to control can have a softer suspension while still handling better.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Either factor causes the same basic result. Taller generally means higher CoG, which means you need more roll stiffness and suspension stiffness to counteract the added roll and pitch. That hurts the ride. More weight causes the same issues, and you need firmer damping to control the added weight. An X3 it is both heavier and taller… The first gen X3 was especially bad – it handled great but it rode like a buckboard wagon. The new one is better, but still no match for the wagon in ride comfort.

    • 0 avatar
      Satish Kondapavulur

      328d xDrive wagon was considered, but my dad liked sitting higher up and with similar options the wagon would’ve been more money than the X3.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Nice review! Nice car, though I would have gone for the 328xi wagon personally. Out of curiosity, did he consider that car? One of the rare occasions where there is both the wagon and the wagon on stilts versions available of basically the same car. The new X3 is a little bigger though. The old X3 was pretty much the same size as the new wagon, with the X1 being the same size as my e91 wagon.

    I can tell you what the Enhanced Smartphone/BT option does, because that was one of my questions when I ordered my M235i a couple weeks ago. Depending on the model, it does a few things – it lets you plug your smartphone into the car and use the car’s built in cellular antenna, which should give you better reception than the one in the phone. The Bluetooth allows streaming of music, and control of the streaming through the iDrive. The standard Bluetooth is only for calls. And it adds built-in LTE connectivity instead of the basic 2G/3G if you have Nav as well. I think this lets the car do more with POIs and such. The 2-series has BT streaming standard, so I skipped this option. The antenna connection only works with a fairly small list of phones. I think most iPhones are on it, but not my Nexus5.

    I too ordered Oyster for the interior. It is very similar to the Parchment interior I had on my ’08 Saab 9-3SC. That car was a little bit of a pain to keep clean compared to a darker color, but the light interior is really nice. Especially as I ordered this car with the sunroof delete, a dark interior would be like a coal mine. This time around, I did order the Tech Package, which includes Navigation (which I did not want). But I wanted the bigger iDrive screen and the extended instrument panel screens, so what the heck, you only live once. Premium pkg, Cold Weather pkg, Harmon/Karden sound, manual transmission and sunroof delete round it out. Just under $51K MSRP, paid $45K+tax European Delivery.

    • 0 avatar

      Congrats on your M235i order. BMW irritates me sometimes, because some of the lower-end options (like the non-nav iDrive and the smaller IP screen on the 2/3/4-Series) look cheap, and you’ll spend thousands to upgrade them. Do write us a Reader Ride Review, because I’m interested in hearing about it, especially the European Delivery…which, if I ordered an X5, I realize I wouldn’t get.

      Might I add, that’s quite a bit of car for under $50K.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Thanks!

        BMW irritates me all the time now that they are getting more and more into Japanese style option bundling. I don’t care if I have to pay more, let me get the darned thing the way I want it.

        I’m happy to do a write up. This is my second European delivery, but will be my first Performance Center (re)Delivery. looking forward to that too.

        I think it is worth what I am paying for it, but MSRP is a little silly. I would have preferred a 228i for $5-6K less, but could not get one with what I wanted but without what I didn’t want. I agree with some of the commenters that an awful lot of stuff that is optional really should be standard at the base price – I ended up with $8K in options, and it is not really loaded. But what are you going to do? There is very little else like it on the market. I really wanted to like the new Mustang, but it still feels like a boat on the road. And no European Delivery. :-)

        This time I am going East and South. Munich-Prague-Budapest-Modena-Rome-Turin-Geneva-Mulhouse-Stuttgart-Munich over just shy of a month in Aug/Sept. Taking my 67yo Mom with me, may God have mercy on my soul. I haven’t spent more than 8hrs at a time with her since I was about 14. My favorite lady partner in crime is meeting us in Rome for the week we are there though, she’s been there multiple times and speaks Italian. Should be a good time if Mom and I don’t kill each other.

    • 0 avatar
      Satish Kondapavulur

      Surprisingly, a 328d wagon was test driven, but my dad preferred the X3 for the ride height and it was possible to order the X3 and get it before the end of the year. Also, the wagon would’ve been more money than the X3 with exactly the same options.

      And thanks for telling me what the enhanced Bluetooth/USB options does. Now we have to spend more money on the iPhone attachment…

  • avatar
    jerseydevil200

    Here i see these being driven by middle aged women with way too much makeup and over-processed hair screaming in to a phone. Not a pretty sight.

  • avatar
    Paddan

    I always thought the X3 was cheaply made and I could never understand why they were so expensive for what you get. But that’s just me.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Great article, and great car. I’ve been a BMW guy for a long time, and nearly bought an X3 about a year ago.

    Four things swayed me towards the XC60 R-Design instead:

    1. “Leftover” pricing on the last 13 on the lot, as well as Volvo making my first 3 payments.

    2. The ASTOUNDING torque of the inline six in the R-Design (similar engine in the X3 put it far out of my price range).

    3. It just felt a bit more like a hot rod. Hard to explain, but dare I say a bit more manly?!

    4. The rear seats fold down truly flat, which is surprisingly big deal for us, for a bunch of reasons I won’t bore you with.

    I know I’ll pay for this at resale time, but decided to go with something different, regardlesss.

  • avatar
    craiger

    I enjoyed the link to the E39 on clunkerture.com. Mine was the same color (steel blue) but a 2001 with the sports package. Three-piece BBS wheels, with a full spare mounted on a fifth BBS! I miss that car.

    • 0 avatar
      Satish Kondapavulur

      I’m glad you liked that story! It was written after I managed to get from San Jose to San Francisco very quickly in that car. Believe it or not, I prefer it without the sport package!

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    We’re in the market for a similar vehicle, and drove the BMW. Drives well, plenty of power, good efficiency, but it was ruled out when both the wife AND the daughter sat in the back seat and deemed it “flat and uncomfortable”. Wife is coming from an Acura MDX, and regardless of the difference in room, darned if I don’t agree with them about the relative back-seat comfort. Frequent long 4-up road trips make that a key consideration for us.

    Q5 and a CPO Cayenne diesel are the 2 leading contenders right now.


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