2018 BMW X3’s drive quality separates it from the luxury SUV pack Featured

Oct 14, 2018 Hit: 330 Written by 
The redesigned 2018 BMW X3 is one of the better-looking compact luxury SUVs you'll find, and drives better than most of them.
The redesigned 2018 BMW X3 is one of the better-looking compact luxury SUVs you'll find, and drives better than most of them. Photo by Matt Myftiu/

The BMW brand has a certain mystique about it, but in the end a driver has to like the entire experience for that loyalty to remain once someone picks up one. It’s a fine line between focusing all-out on performance, while also maintaining a comfortable experience for the driver and their family.

With their expansive X line of SUVs (X1 to X6 on sale now, with X7 and X8 coming very soon), BMW is treading that line very closely. I recently spent time in one of their compact SUV offerings, the X3, and I’m back with a full report.


Taking a look at the exterior of the redesigned 2018 BMW X3, including the unique BMW split grille up front, I would easily put it at or near the top of the class when we’re talking about compact luxury SUVs.

Moving inside, it’s also plush and comfortable with attractive wood trim, and the rear seat has decent leg and headroom for the segment, something that’s often missing. You get a heated steering wheel, plus heated front and rear seats.

With fold-down rear seats, cargo space is impressive at 62.7 feet, considering this is a compact SUV, and you get 8 inches of ground clearance.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle:: 2018 BMW X3 xDrive30i
  • Price as tested:: $57,620
  • Best feature:: Truly enjoyable driving experience, cargo room
  • Rating:: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?:: Compact luxury SUV buyers looking for something they’ll enjoy driving every single day


The X3 I tested featured a 2.0-liter, twin-power turbo four-cylinder engine. The powerplant was paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, though the shifter did feature a manual mode and paddle shifters are also included. Output is 248 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque.

There is also a high-performance version of the X3 sold that boasts a six-cylinder engine and 355 horsepower, in case you need some more oomph in your ride.

xDrive, BMW’s all-wheel drive system, is standard, and you should be able to handle a bit of basic off-road driving in the X3.

BMW’s longtime tagline is Ultimate Driving Machine, and I understood why when behind the wheel of the X3. It drove so smoothly I didn't even realize how fast I was going most of the time.

It was great in the corners, and excelled at getting up to speed (0 to 60 times are 6 seconds for the four-cylinder, 4.6 seconds for the six-cylinder).

Unlike some other luxury brands that focus more on comfort and sensible setups for families, often at the expense of power and sportiness, BMW knows their target audience -- drivers who love to drive -- and build their vehicles specifically with these people in mind.

An optional adaptive suspension can make the ride even more enjoyable, too.


I was very happy with the overall tech setup on the X3, including the latest iDrive infotainment system, which was easy to control via a knob in the center console. Also, the backup camera (SurroundView with 3D View) was excellent and one of the best I’ve seen anywhere. Placement of the screen was ideal, and it can be segmented into multiple areas to share info on multiple topics.

While the X3’s navigation system worked well and got me where I needed to go, it wasn't quite as user-friendly as some other alternatives I’ve seen in terms of setting your destination.

You get Sirius satellite radio, with a one-year subscription (and I would recommend keeping it after the year expires). Apple CarPlay is supported and an option on the X3, but Android Auto is not supported.

A front collision warning system monitors for accident risks, them alerts the driver when action is needed. Also, a head-up display helps keep your eyes on the road.

Helped by superb aerodynamics, fuel mileage is one area where the 2018 BMW X3 shines. Official numbers are 22 city/29 highway/25 combined. I was able to achieve these numbers, and even if you push things a little hard and fall a bit short, you’ll still doing as well as the X3’s competitors.


The 2018 BMW X3 xDrive30i that I tested was priced at $57,620 including all options, and had a starting price of just over $42K. That’s a bit pricier than the Audi Q5, and several thousand more than other luxury competitors like the Acura RDX or Infiniti QX50.

But then again, BMWs never were known for being the most affordable vehicle.


When choosing among the many compact luxury SUV options available, you can do a lot worse than the BMW X3, especially if you love driving.

===== can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.


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