$24,171 - $28,796

2015 BMW X3 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2015 BMW X3 was new.


Performance: 8.9

Automotive writers agree that the 2015 BMW X3's agile handling, responsive steering and three powerful engine options make it one of the most engaging performers in the class. Additionally, the X3 earns better fuel economy estimates than most rivals.

  • "The X3 delivers the sportiness and refinement you expect from the brand in a package that's small but highly versatile." -- Consumer Guide
  • "In true BMW fashion, superior handling and performance are at the heart of the X3's appeal. The typical luxury SUV is uninspiring on winding canyon roads, but the X3 breaks the mold with sharp reflexes that make it a top pick in its class for driver engagement." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2015 BMW X3 continues to stand out against rivals like the Mercedes-Benz GLK, Acura RDX and Cadillac SRX, thanks to a dynamic driving nature that makes it feel more like one of the company's sport sedans than a big SUV." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "It rode calmly, steered neatly, accelerated briskly, shifted gears with decisive subtlety, and generally did all the things that inspire driver pleasure." -- Motor Trend (2011)

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 BMW X3 sDrive28i and X3 xDrive28i are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 240 horsepower. The X3 xDrive35i comes with a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine with 300 horsepower and the new X3 xDrive28d comes with a turbodiesel 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 180 horsepower. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard on all models, and a sport transmission with paddle shifters is optional. According to the EPA, the base X3 sDrive28i earns 21/28 mpg city/highway, which is good for the class. With 27/34 mpg city/highway, the diesel-powered X3 xDrive28d gets even better estimates.

Reviewers say that all X3 models have more than enough power for highway passing and merging, and a few note that xDrive35i models have especially spirited acceleration. Some auto journalists say the base 2015 X3 provides immediate acceleration from a stop, while others report that there can be a delay off the line. Some also say the eight-speed automatic transmission is a great match for any engine.

  • "Regardless, expect effortless onramp sprints and plenty of passing power. No matter which engine you choose, it comes with BMW's excellent 8-speed automatic transmission." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "With 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft. of torque, it is plenty stout for the type of weekend a typical X3 owner might have planned. The best part is that peak torque comes on at 1,300 rpm and remains linear until it finally tapers off at about 5,000." -- Left Lane News
  • "Don't dismiss the 2015 BMW X3 28i models based on their four-cylinder power plant. Acceleration is very quick, and these are among the most fuel-efficient models in the crossover segment based on EPA estimates." -- Edmunds
  • "Non-linear throttle response remains an annoyance, at least on the base xDrive28i model, but this premium-compact SUV has enough other positive attributes to make it worth your consideration." -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

The BMW X3 impresses automotive writers with its sharp steering, which they agree delivers excellent feedback. Reviewers are also pleased with the 2015 X3’s sporty handling and agree that the SUV feels planted through turns. A few test drivers point out that although its ride is firm, the X3 is still comfortable for daily driving and longer journeys. The base X3 sDrive28i comes with rear-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive is standard on higher trims.

  • "The electronic power steering and the other electronic aids and assists actually did manage to keep us out of trouble on the back roads about 45 miles outside of Atlanta on our test drive. With fresh and damp fall leaves on the ground, we needed all the assists available. But at the end of the day, we think the X3 gives some of the best driver feedback of any of the new electronic power steering systems available." -- Left Lane News
  • "The X3 delivers on the promise of BMW performance in other respects, too. Take it around a turn with enthusiasm and it feels light and nimble. As compact luxury crossovers go, it's one of the sportiest, particularly with its optional suspension and drivetrain add-ons. And while the ride quality is definitely on the firm side, most people will find the 2015 BMW X3 quite livable, whether commuting along city streets or taking long trips on the highway." -- Edmunds
  • "Steering is arguably as good as it gets in this class, the electrically assisted, vehicle-speed-sensitive power setup possessing a fair share of progressive heft and decent self-centering, but deep secrets regarding the next move of the chassis stay unrevealed." -- Car and Driver (2013)
  • "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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