Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
The 2013 BMW X3 is a compact SUV that stands apart from luxury rivals with its sport-oriented nature. Quick yet comfortable, the X3 comes standard with all-wheel drive (AWD) for surefootedness in any weather. The X3 is available with a powerful but fuel-efficient turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, or a very potent turbo 6-cylinder.
You'll Like The 2013 BMW X3 If...
If you’re looking for a premium carryall that truly puts the "sport" in sport-utility vehicle, the 2013 X3 is hard to beat. With AWD standard, the X3 is also a good choice for drivers who need extra traction in inclement weather.
You May Not Like The 2013 BMW X3 If...
Aesthetically, the 2013 X3 isn’t as viscerally exciting as some competitors. The iDrive command module and gearshift lever may confuse some drivers, and when optioned up the X3 can reach around $60,000. Here, even paint colors cost extra unless you’re okay with non-metallic black or white.
2013 sees the introduction of a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that replaces the naturally aspirated (non-turbo) inline-6 in past xDrive28i models. Although this engine is smaller, it creates the same amount of horsepower and more torque than the former 6-cylinder engine, while attaining better fuel economy: up to 28 mpg on the highway.
Clean interior design and today’s technology are easy friends in the 2013 X3. Indeed, fine materials and lots of gee-whiz tech are in no shortage here, but keep in mind that they’ll likely cost extra. That means if you want the Fineline Wave Wood trim, heated front seats or, yes, just leather instead of "Leatherette" upholstery, you’ll have to check off the options boxes. If you’re prepared for the extra costs, though, it’s easy to appreciate the X3’s comfortable amenities. Most functions work well, but the jet-fighter gear shifter and iDrive command module can still prove baffling. Rear legroom is adequate and the seat folds for added cargo space.
Rounded sheetmetal and athletic creases define the BMW X3’s outer suit. A head-on view presents a rather sinister vehicle with BMW’s familiar grille. The sides and rear of the 2013 X3 are more conservative yet still attractive thanks in no small part to deep side creases that stretch from the front wheel arches to the taillights. These lines give the X3 an athletic stance and visually split the car into parts, akin to what a good belt does with the right pair of slacks. In back are twin tailpipes tucked neatly beneath the lower-left bumper and minimal badging.
The first thing you notice about the 2013 BMW X3 when you press the accelerator pedal? It’s fast. And that swiftness isn’t just reserved for the more powerful engine. Even the base 4-cylinder can propel this vehicle from 0-60 mph in the mid-6-second range. Step up to the more powerful 6-cylinder, put the transmission into the second of two "sport" modes, and you’re looking at the same sprint taking place in the 5-second range, comparable to a sports car. In the real world, this translates to effortless on-ramp sprints and prodigious passing power. But speed and agility in corners aren’t the only high points here. The X3 is also a comfortable, quiet vehicle that eases the rigors of long commutes. Purists may decry the lack of a manual-transmission option, but we take solace in the buttery smooth 8-speed automatic that’s standard.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of a 2013 BMW X3 starts just under $40,000 and can quickly escalate from there. Load up an X3 xDrive35i and you can easily hit $50,000 or – with big wheels –$60,000. The X3’s base price is in line with the Lexus RX 350 and sits above the starting price of the Mercedes-Benz GLK, Audi Q5, Acura RDX, Infiniti EX35 and Volvo XC60. Be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are actually paying for the 2013 BMW X3. The X3’s starting price is higher than most competitors, but so is its predicted resale value, sharing a lofty position with the Audi Q5 and Lexus RX.
A base 2013 BMW X3 xDrive28i comes with AWD, 8-way power front seats, automatic climate control, power-operated tailgate, rain-sensing wipers, and 12-speaker/205-watt audio system with AM/FM/CD player with HD Radio and auxiliary input. The higher-trim xDrive35i model has a more powerful 6-cylinder engine, xenon headlights and panoramic moonroof. Like other new, 2013 BMWs, the X3 comes with complimentary maintenance for the first four years or 50,000 miles. Roadside assistance is offered for the first four years, with no mileage stipulation.
Options are aplenty when it comes to configuring a 2013 X3. But keep in mind that some features require packages that cost thousands of dollars. Among the add-ons available are leather seating, navigation system, heated front and rear seats, a 40/20/40 folding rear seat, heated steering wheel and lane-departure warning. For audio buffs, a 16-speaker, 600-watt sound system is available. Those seeking better performance can opt for packages that tighten the handling and employ larger wheels. Speaking of wheels, specialized BMW M 20-inch varieties are available, but can cost up to $6,000.
POWER AND EFFICIENCYWith the newly installed turbo 4-cylinder engine, those two traits are no longer mutually exclusive. This bulldog of a powerplant easily propels the AWD X3, yet the BMW still attains up to 28 mpg.INTERIOR FIT AND FINISHFrom the metallic, sliding cargo hooks in the hull to the available wood-grain trim up front, the 2013 X3 is one polished vehicle.
Under the Hood
The base engine in a 2013 BMW X3 is a turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 240 horsepower – the same figure as the outgoing 6-cylinder. In the higher-trim xDrive35i is a 300-horsepower 6-cylinder. Both are connected to a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission (a manual transmission is not available), and offer all-wheel drive as standard. To conserve fuel, the 2013 X3 features automatic engine start/stop, which shuts down the engine when the vehicle is stopped and instantly restarts it when the driver’s foot is lifted from the brake pedal. Premium gasoline is recommended for both engines.2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4240 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm260 lb-ft of torque @ 1,250-4,800EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/28 mpg3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6300 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm300 lb-ft of torque @ 1,300-5,000 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 mpg
BMW doesn’t want you to mistake its X3 for an SUV. This 5-passenger compact utility vehicle is, according to the German automaker, an SAV, for "sports-activity vehicle." It’s tempting to sneer at that marketing lingo, but one drive in the 2013 BMW X3 proves this isn’t just hype. In a segment that has grown since the X3’s introduction in 2004 with an onslaught of luxury rivals like the Mercedes-Benz GLK, Audi Q5, Acura RDX, Cadillac SRX and Infiniti EX, the X3 stands out with a dynamic nature that makes it feel more like a sports sedan than a cumbersome SUV. After a recent refresh, the 2013 X3 is more fuel-efficient thanks to a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that replaces the larger, thirstier 6-cylinder of past base models. For those who seek more power, a turbo 6-cylinder is still available.