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The 2016 BMW X3 manages to keep just the right stride in the crossover market, offering a strong combination of style, practicality, and safety, with loads of technology options, a responsive driving experience, and fuel efficiency that's surprisingly good. For families and all their daily needs, it's a great pick.
Unlike some compact utility vehicles, the X3 keeps its proportions in line—slotting nicely below the larger X5 without any awkwardness—while appearing just a little more lean, pert, and graceful than its bigger sibling.
Last year BMW gave the X3 a design refresh that brought twin-circular headlights (with optional LED lamps), plus a more flamboyant version of the BMW kidney grille, some minor front and rear tweaks, and new exterior mirrors with integrated turn-signal lamps.
The instrument panel design will be familiar to anyone who's driven a BMW in recent years. The dash arcs to envelop controls and angles them at the driver, adding to the more sedan-like air surrounding the new SUV. But perhaps more importantly is that it's fitted completely with soft-touch surfaces; everything from the middle of the doors on up is soft to the touch and nicely grained.
With recent infusions of a little more chrome and brightwork, plus high-gloss black trim, we did actually prefer the less garish look of this generation of the X3 when it made its debut several years ago. Yet even with that, the X3 is elegant, calming, and uncluttered—actually blending a driver-centric cockpit feel with the brand's warmer interior look.
The 2016 BMW X3 offers performance that is right in line with what BMW shoppers will expect—provided they don't expect much if any off-road ability out of this crossover.
Last year brought a new rear-wheel-drive sDrive model to the X3 lineup. Otherwise the BMW X3 continues with its all-turbocharged engine lineup, including 4- and 6-cylinder gasoline engines, as well as a 4-cylinder turbodiesel.
For those who haven't been to BMW showrooms in a few years, it might be shocking to note that the era of the naturally aspirated inline-6 engine has passed—and so have those wonderful sounds of that engine design. Yet there's nothing to complain about, as the new base turbo four engine is stronger and more fuel-efficient than the previous smaller six.
The base engine in the X3—in X3 xDrive 28i and sDrive 28i models—is the same 2.0-liter "N20" TwinPower four that's offered in those other cars—making 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. BMW says that the X3 28i accelerates to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, but even that feels a bit conservative.
Turbo fours of this size are no longer a market rarity, and among them BMW's is one of the perkiest and most V-6-like. Foot to the floor, it moves, with no hesitation. With direct injection, Double-Vanos variable camshaft timing and Valvetronic variable valve timing, and twin-scroll turbocharging, the BMW four spools up very quick, with peak torque reached from a diesel-like 1,250 rpm all the way up to 4,800 rpm.
*This vehicle is Certified Pre-Owned and is eligible for our third party warranty program.