$12,878 - $14,431

2012 BMW X3 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 BMW X3 was new.


Performance: 8.6

The 2012 BMW X3 is one of the most nimble and athletic SUVs in its class, but true driving enthusiasts may be disappointed with its hesitant engine and lack of a manual transmission.

  • "And when you're ready to get out of town, the 2012 BMW X3 satisfies with instant acceleration, adequate ground clearance and reasonable efficiency." -- Kelley Blue Book

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 BMW X3 comes in two trims, both of which come standard with all-wheel drive. The xDrive28i has a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that makes 240 horsepower. The xDrive35i has a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine that makes 300 horsepower. There are few complaints about either of these engines, but one reviewer thinks the xDrive28i is slow from a stop.

Both models have a standard eight-speed automatic transmission with sport and manual shift modes. Reviewers think this transmission is smooth, but admit that they miss the manual transmission the previous generation had.

The EPA says the xDrive28i averages 19/25 mpg city/highway, while the xDrive35i has slightly better fuel economy ratings of 19/26 mpg.

  • "And while we wish BMW had elected to provide a manual transmission in the base X3, its substitute - an 8-speed automatic - provides responsive performance, along with Sport and Manual modes. Finally, a claimed 0-60 time of less than seven seconds (xDrive28i) is nicely balanced by an EPA Highway rating of 25 mpg." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "There is little engine response for the first third of gas-pedal travel, making X3 feel slow from a stop. After that point, power comes on too strongly, which is frustrating in moderate-speed suburban commuting. Some testers complain of occasional bogging and surging from the transmission in its standard setting. Moving the shifter to Sport mode mitigates this somewhat.” -- Consumer Guide (xDrive28i)
  • "Between both of the available six-cylinder engines and the drive wheels, there's a smooth shifting and fuel economy boosting 8-speed ZF automatic transmission with a handy manual-mode and optional paddle shifting." -- Automobile Magazine

Handling and Braking

Most reviewers say that the 2012 BMW X3 has excellent handling. But then again, it’s a BMW, so they’re not particularly surprised at how nimble and fun the X3 is. The X3 manages sporty handling without a punishing ride, which is a plus for people who want an exhilarating family SUV. Other reviewers, however, are more critical, and don’t think the X3 is as agile as it could be. The brakes receive praise for being strong and accurate in fast driving.

  • "We think BMW did an outstanding job in providing road feel in its Servotronic power steering, and the all-independent suspension strikes a careful balance between composure and comfort." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "X3 handles well for an SUV, but it doesn't quite match the sharp response of BMW's cars. Steering feedback is good, but some testers complain of some numbness when moving the wheel slightly off-center. Body lean is well controlled in fast turns, and the brakes have excellent pedal feel." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Brake feel and response inspire additional confidence in fast driving." -- Edmunds 

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