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2013 BMW X3 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 BMW X3 was new.


Performance: 8.4

According to reviewers, the 2013 BMW X3 offers a good balance of performance and practicality. Two powerful engine choices are available, including a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that’s new for the 2013 model year. Test drivers also praise the X3’s sharp handling, comfortable ride and strong brakes.

  • "As it is, the 2013 BMW X3 is one of the most appealing small luxury crossovers. It is arguably the sportiest example, providing the sort of handling composure and buttoned-down ride you'd expect from a BMW sport sedan. While the new turbo-4 delivers swift acceleration for the class, the xDrive35i turbo-6 goes above and beyond, offering a degree of get-up-and-go that nothing else in the class can match." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 BMW X3 offers two engines. The base X3 xDrive28i comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 240 horsepower. It’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The xDrive35i has a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that makes 300 horsepower and is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission that has paddle shifters. According to the EPA, the base X3 averages 21/28 mpg city/highway, while models with the six-cylinder engine average 19/26 mpg. All-wheel drive is standard.

The four-cylinder engine is new for the 2013 model year, and one reviewer reports that it helps make the X3 one of the most powerful, fastest and fuel-efficient SUVs in its class. The same reviewer also applauds the available six-cylinder engine for its fast acceleration and good fuel economy.

  • "Don't scoff at the notion of a four-cylinder in a luxury crossover SUV, because the new turbocharged xDrive28i model manages to be one of the quickest and most efficient models in the segment. The X3 could easily get by with this excellent new engine alone, but it'll be hard to say no to the xDrive35i and its turbocharged six-cylinder. Not only does it provide quicker acceleration than any other small luxury crossover, it returns decent fuel economy to boot." -- Edmunds
  • "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." -- Kelley Blue Book (2012)
  • "That aside, gear changes are still smooth as butter and unlike other eight-speed automatics, the X3 makes the most of its low-end torque power to avoid the constant need to downshift when prodded to pass. The optional paddle shifters are a nice bit of added driver involvement, but we much prefer leaving the shifter in D and letting the X3 do the work itself – with eight gears to choose from, you'll be clicking the paddles an awful lot." -- Autoblog (2011)

Handling and Braking

Most reviewers say that the 2013 BMW X3 has excellent handling. Still, it is a BMW, so they’re not particularly surprised at how nimble and fun the X3 is. Test drivers also appreciate that the X3’s sporty handling doesn’t equate to a harsh ride. Other reviewers are more critical, and don’t think the X3’s steering is as precise as it could be. Test drivers praise the brakes, calling them strong.

  • "Regardless of engine, the 2013 BMW X3 handles with the adeptness you expect from this German brand. The chassis feels light and the speed-sensitive steering gives the X3 a nimble quality that makes you really feel reasonably connected to the car." -- Edmunds
  • "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 (2012)
  • "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 (2012)

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