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2020 BMW X3 Performance Review


Performance: 8.0

The 2020 BMW X3 hits just about every note on the performance front. Its engines feel energetic, and it handles well. But this crossover isn't just athletic. The X3 also rides smoothly and gets good gas mileage for the luxury compact SUV class.

  • "The X3 M40i is the ideal solution if you're stuck choosing between a sport sedan and an SUV. With plentiful power from its 6-cylinder engine, surprisingly good handling, sharp steering, and excellent brakes, you'd think it was a sporty wagon. But it's comfortable off pavement as well, something most sporty sedans can't match." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • "Power delivery is smooth and nearly immediate, with some slight turbo lag. It's so smooth and strong that you might think it's a six-cylinder at first. There is plenty of power once you're up to speed, making it easy to pass without mashing the accelerator. However, when you do need more power, the 8-speed automatic transmission smoothly and promptly executes multigear downshifts." -- Consumer Reports (2018)
  • "EPA-estimated gas mileage … is competitive with the class. Over some 360 miles of mostly highway driving, I hit the highway rating on the dot." -- (2018)

Acceleration and Power

The base BMW X3 features a 248-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It's mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. With this engine, the X3 feels quick and capable in just about any driving situation.

The X3 M40i comes with a 382-horsepower 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine. You can really feel all that extra power when you hit the gas, and according to BMW, the M40i will go from zero to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds.

There are two high-performance trims that go beyond the M40i. The X3 M features a 473-horsepower 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder, while the X3 M Competition has a 503-horsepower version of the same engine. The X3 M will go from zero to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, and the X3 M Competition will make the dash in four seconds flat.

According to EPA estimates, the X3 with the base engine and rear-wheel drive gets 25 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. Those are good ratings for the luxury compact SUV class. Fuel economy drops as the engines increase in power. The M40i gets 21 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, while the M Competition gets 14/19 mpg city/highway.

  • "Most of our time was spent driving the 2018 BMW X3 M40i, the sportier of the two models, boasting a more powerful engine, firmer suspension, bigger brakes, and electronically controlled shocks. The upshot is an SUV that likes to pretend it's a sport sedan. The … turbocharged 6-cylinder engine ensures excellent acceleration, going from a standstill to 60 mph in about 4.6 seconds." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • "Nevertheless, effortless speed, aided and abetted by a transmission that always knows exactly which gear to be in and at which time to be in it, is yours for the taking. The xDrive AWD system flawlessly apportions the power, the steering is sharp and quick, and the … tires deliver exceptional grip." -- New York Daily News (2018)
  • "Instead of the inline-6, the xDrive30i gets by with just a turbocharged inline-4 making 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That seems like a big downgrade in performance, and in a way, it is. But the thing is, this engine provides more than enough power for keeping up with and dusting off traffic. The fact it makes its torque so low in the rev band makes a big difference, making it feel spritely in normal driving conditions. The engine is quiet, and the power delivery is smooth and undramatic, which means that it picks up speed deceptively quickly." -- Autoblog (2018)

Handling and Braking

The X3 delivers plenty of driving enjoyment because of its sharp steering and agile handling, but it no longer stands above the competition with regard to athleticism. Part of that is an increased focus on comfort, and this BMW provides a smooth ride, even over rough pavement.

There are four selectable modes that alter driving dynamics to your liking, and high-performance models add an additional mode. Rear-wheel drive comes standard, and all-wheel drive is available.

  • Imagine a spectrum of chassis tuning and suspension setups that has 'comfort' at one end and 'sporty' at the other. Recent BMW vehicles have generally tended toward comfort where they were once decidedly closer to the sporty end. There's still enough capability for an enthusiast to exploit -- it's just not quite as obvious as with some BMW cars of old." -- Autotrader
  • "The BMW X3 is among the top performers in its class for agile handling, too, thanks to the rear-biased all-wheel-drive system (AWD)." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)
  • "Fire up the engine and put the SUV into drive, and you'll quickly notice the steering is direct and engaging, with an appropriate amount of weight for easy parking and driving confidence at high speeds. This contributes to the sharp, sporty handling, which gives you a feeling of control and precision, and encourages you to search out curvy roads." -- Consumer Reports (2018)
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2020 BMW X3

MSRP: $41,950 - $76,900

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