2011 BMW X3 Expert Review

3.9 Overall Score
Performance 4.0 Comfort 3.6 Styling 4.2 Value 3.5

You'll Like The 2011 BMW X3 If...

If the 3 Series Sedan is a favorite but you'd like something with a hatch, an easier load-in height, and just a hint of ruggednesss, the X3 is worth a look.

You May Not Like The 2011 BMW X3 If...

Front and rear legroom are not one of the 2011 BMW X3's strongest suits. And, although the last generation X3 offered a manual transmission, this compact crossover only now comes in automatic transmission flavor, potentially upsetting diehard manual fans.

What's New

The 2011 BMW X3 offers more of everything: It's larger, more refined inside and out, comes with more standard equipment, more power underhood...and, in xDrive28i form, starts for less than the previous generation.

Interior Features

Inside the 2011 BMW X3, you'll find tasteful wood trim, intuitive audio and climate controls, and comfortable, supportive seats. You'll also notice the standard iDrive and 8.8-inch information screens, an electronic parking brake as well as the same futuristic-looking automatic transmission shifter (you'll know what we mean when you see it) that's been introduced across the lineup. Although the 2011 BMW X3 sports larger dimensions, front and rear legroom isn't exactly generous.

Exterior Features

Although the 2011 BMW X3 still shares the same wedge shape as the previous generation, this new incarnation sports a much more muscular, rounded look. The headlights and fog lights have been pulled to the sides of the vehicle, the kidney-shaped grille is more robust -looking, and the wheel arches are aggressively flared. To borrow a word from the German product presentations we so often see, the X3 design is an exercise in "dynamism." We couldn't agree more.

Driving Impressions

The X3, more so in this second-generation, is truly a taller 3 Series Sedan. And we mean that in a very positive way. With a sporty (but less harsh than the first generation) ride, great steering feel and the same 2.8-liter and twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6s found in the 3 Series Sedan, this crossover is sure to please the enthusiast in your soul. The manual transmission has been dropped for this generation, but the eight-speed automatic is no slouch, and offers paddle shifters along with Sport and Sport plus driving modes (which also adjust the chassis and throttle/steering responses) for those looking for a little more sportiness in their life.

Pricing Notes

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2011 BMW X3 28i starts at just over $37,500 and the 35i opens closer to $42,000. These prices are actually less than those of the previous generation, made even sweeter by the inclusion of more equipment - like Bluetooth, USB port, iDrive and an anti-theft alarm – standard. This drop in price also makes the X3 much more competitive with the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class, Lexus RX 350, Cadillac SRX and Volvo XC60. To get the best deal when buying be sure to check out the Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com. When it comes to residuals, the X3 is expected to do exceptionally well - at the top of its class.

Notable Equipment

Mechanically, the X3 xDrive28i comes with a 3.0-liter in-line six engine mated to an automatic eight-speed transmission and puts power to pavement via a standard all-wheel drive system and 17-inch wheels. Inside, you'll find eight-way power front seats, silver matte trim, leatherette seating surfaces, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, iPod connectivity, Bluetooth, HD Radio and the latest and greatest version of iDrive - which is much easier to use than previous iterations. The xDrive 35i ups the ante with a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged in-line six, xenon adaptive headlights, chrome tailpipes, 18-inch wheels and Siena interior wood trim.

Notable Options

You can equip your X3 with niceties like heated seats, a navigation system, premium audio, leather seating and a panoramic moonroof, but perhaps the coolest option is to custom-order your car and watch it being built via a video from BMW. Opting to custom order makes other perks available including interior and exterior color choices not available on dealer's lots and the opportunity to fly to the BMW factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and take possession of your shiny new car. If you're feeling ambitious you can also can put your new car through its paces on both a race track and an off-road course across the street from the factory at the Performance Drive Center.

Favorite Features

Driving Dynamics Control

This optional system allows you to modify shock absorber firmness, engine throttle response, transmission shifting characteristics, power steering feel and stability/traction controls to suit your tastes. Choose normal, sport or sport plus to change how the X3 feels based on the road or your mood.

Head-Up Display

Available as an option, this system projects navigation directions and the speed the vehicle traveling onto the windshield, providing the driver with essential information without taking their eyes off the road.

Under the Hood

The 2011 BMW X3 offers two engines: a 3.0-liter in-line six that produces 240 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque, and a 3.0-liter turbocharged in-line six that nets 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. Both engines are mated to a responsive eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode; Sadly, the manual transmission offered in the previous generation is not an option for this new iteration. BMW's third-generation intelligent all-wheel drive is standard across the lineup.

3.0-liter in-line 6

240 horsepower @ 6600 rpm

221 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2600-3000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/25

3.0-liter in-line 6 Turbocharged

300 horsepower @ 5800 rpm

300 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1200-5000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26

Editors' Notes

The original BMW X3 "Sport Activity Vehicle" debuted in 2003, and was one of the pioneers of the luxury small crossover craze, influencing brands like Acura, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz to follow in their footsteps. But the years took their toll on the X3. Although it continued to improve year after year, without a full redesign, it began to look a little less fresh compared to the competition's newer crop of vehicles. Here's the good news: That all changes with the 2011 BMW X3. It sports a fresh look, a sporty - but not overly harsh ride, and a host of new luxury and convenience features.

Road Test Video Reviews

2011 BMW X3 Owner Reviews

21 Reviews
52% 43% 5% 2 star 0% 1 star 0%
Leave your review Would you recommend this vehicle?
(Select your rating)

BMW X3 has Poor interior trim

2011 BMW X3 28i

My BMW X3 is good on the road, allows me to see above most cars, feels sturdy, and the steering wheel is easy to maneuver. Drawbacks are that the driver's side door panel includes a rubber cup- handle that disintegrates. I lotion my hands a lot so, apparently the lotion if wears down the rubber. To replace that piece, you have to purchase the entire unit (includes the handle, the window and door buttons) at nearly $700. So now, I have to decide whether I will give up that money (that's the parts-only price) or continue to ride with an unsightly handle. In addition the console has a plastic/ rubber coating and the coating has bubbled in several places. Of course, in order to replace it, I have to purchase the entire unit (I didn't bother to ask about the price). These issues are frustrating and embarrassing since I enjoy the handling of the car but can't stand the way these interior items were designed.

- Michele W

Easy to get in Roomy Can fit 2 car seats and a booster in the back seat

2011 BMW X3 28i

This BMW is my 3rd BM X3. It has been great. I've only have to get brakes and tires from the wear and tear since 2011. I have almost 112,000 miles. The only issues I have is that the new safety features were not available in the car and I have no USB port for my cell. I have the old fashioned charger where a cigarette would be.

- Randy S

Solid build seating. Good all around vision when you drive. Very safe.

2011 BMW X3

This has been my 3rd BMW I have purchased, the 2011 x3 is bigger leather interior and solid build. Handles very well around curbs, and on the road. If you keep up the maintenance of the vehicle you will not have major problems. Good on gas. Overall a fun to drive vehicle. Would highly recommend.

- Sue I

Leave your review