The 2018 BMW X3 is all-new this year, offering standard all-wheel drive, a newly revamped M40i model, and excellent interior-space management. The M40i will be the enthusiast's choice thanks to its additional power, sharp handling, crisp steering, and strong brakes. However, the standard X3 xDrive30i makes a powerful case for itself with a lower price, well-known powertrain, and plenty of room for people and their things.
You'll Like The 2018 BMW X3 If...
The all-new BMW X3 comes in two varieties. The xDrive30i is perfect for the day-to-day luxury SUV buyer who needs extra cargo space, but maybe will take their SUV onto the occasional unpaved road. The X3 M40i does that, but its powerful engine and sport suspension lets you enjoy those mountain roads even more.
You May Not Like The 2018 BMW X3 If...
While standard all-wheel drive helps with dynamics and traction, some buyers don't want the added expense or hit to fuel economy, and may shop elsewhere. Additionally, the infotainment lacks Android Auto, which may turn off some customers.
The 2018 BMW X3 is all-new this year, building on the successes of the previous two generations with a roomy and luxurious interior, a pair of powerful engines to choose from, and sporty driving dynamics.
The new BMW X3 interior boasts the same design aesthetic as other recent BMW vehicles. There's a wide-view display mounted high on the dash, iDrive control knob alongside BMW's unique gear selector, and the same ergonomics that have been part and parcel of the BMW ownership experience for the better part of the last couple decades. But the new X3 is extraordinarily roomy inside, even for the class. The driver and front passenger have plenty of space, and even rear-seat passengers will find good legroom as long as they're not beyond the 95th percentile. Headroom should be no problem for anybody, and the cargo space is near the top of the class in both usability and outright space.
The 2018 X3 is actually a little bigger than the first-generation BMW X5, which is technically a size bigger. But the new X3 wears its volume well and doesn't look oversized. The optional 20- or 21-inch wheels look great, and the wide stance imparts a sense of stability. We think the overall integration of headlights, grille and various other elements feels more cohesive on this model than its predecessor. The same is true in the back, where the taillights flow cleanly into the tailgate. The X3 M40i wears more aggressive sheet metal, with deeper front and rear bumpers, body-color side-sill extensions, and more aggressive wheel-and-tire combinations.
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 355-horsepower turbocharged 6-cylinder engine ensures excellent acceleration, going from a standstill to 60 mph in about 4.6 seconds. The suspension lets the X3 M40i take corners like a pro, and the standard all-wheel drive boasts a rearward bias to take the most advantage of the 50:50 weight distribution. The Driving Dynamics Control's Sport+ mode amps everything up, but it makes the steering too firm in our opinion. Luckily, the Individual mode lets you customize the settings. While we didn't get a chance to drive the xDrive30i just yet, our experience with its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine tells us to expect excellent power delivery, even if it's not quite as straight-line quick as the 6-cylinder. Most surprising was the X3's off-road ability -- while not as agile as a Jeep Wrangler, still acquitted itself nicely on deeply rutted roads.
Like many BMW models, the 2018 BMW X3 xDrive30i xLine has an appealing-sounding Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), in this case, about $43,650 including the $995 destination charge. However, with so many options, the price climbs quickly, with colors, leather interior, and other options rapidly inflating the price well beyond that into the $50,000 range. The 6-cylinder-powered M40i offers more standard features, but its base price of about $55,300 also climbs rapidly. However, that's not much different from its competition from Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Jaguar, all of which start in the mid-$40,000 range and skyrocket from there. Whatever you decide, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area paid. It's too early for resale values on this new model, but historically, the X3 has held its value well compared to others in the class.
The entire 2018 BMW X3 lineup comes standard with all-wheel drive, a departure from its predecessor which offered a rear-drive version. In addition, the X3 offers a standard power liftgate, active grille shutters, power-folding heated side mirrors, and LED low-beam and fog lights. Inside there's automatic climate control, adaptive cruise control, 10-way power adjustable front seats, SensaTec faux leather upholstery, and a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel. The infotainment system is BMW's iDrive 6.0, which includes Bluetooth, USB input, and a 12-speaker audio system.
The standard 2018 X3 xDrive30i offers three jumping off points called: xLine, Luxury and M Sport. The Luxury adds chrome trim, while the M Sport gives the standard model a sporty looking flair. While there are plenty of standalone options, BMW has grouped many of them into "tiers." The Convenience tier adds lumbar support, keyless entry, and a panoramic sunroof, the Premium adds a head-up display, navigation, and a heated steering wheel and seats, and the Executive adds adaptive full LED headlights, digital instrument cluster, parking assistant, surround view with 3D view, and BMW's Gesture Control. Besides a more powerful engine and other performance gear, the M40i takes a different approach, offering many of those features as standalone option packages. Note that both models offer leather as an option, not standard.
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.
The new BMW X3 manages its dimensions admirably, offering ample interior space for front and rear passengers, and all their stuff in the cargo area. We particularly like the triple-split folding rear seatbacks, which allow you to fold down the center section for long objects without having to sacrifice two seating positions.
Under the Hood
Two engines are available for the 2018 BMW X3, and neither is a bad call. The standard X3 xDrive30i gets a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder putting out 248 horsepower. This is an engine that's been doing yeoman's duty under the hoods of virtually every BMW out there these days, and if you choose it you'll likely never feel shortchanged. The upgrade engine in the X3 M40i is the 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 that, again, finds itself under the hood of many other BMW vehicles. With power (355 hp) and torque (369 lb-ft) to spare, this engine hardly ever feels strained. Both come connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission, and both drive all four wheels. Fuel economy is better than many of its rivals, too. BMW announced a diesel engine for the U.S., but specifications aren't yet available.
2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
248 horsepower @ 5,200-6,500
258 lb-ft @ 1,450-4,800
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/29 mpg
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6
355 horsepower @ 5,500-6,500
369 @ 1,520-4,800
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 mpg
The 2018 BMW X3 is the answer to the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, Jaguar F-Pace, Audi Q5, and a slew of other compact luxury SUV models from just about any manufacturer that wants to be relevant. To say the compact luxury SUV market is hot is to say water is wet, Elon Musk is ambitious, and so on. But the new BMW X3 comes ready to fight, with a pair of powerful engines, tons of cargo space, great driving dynamics, and standard all-wheel drive. This 3rd-generation X3 also has all the modern technology and luxury you'd expect from a European luxury SUV. While the X3 isn't exactly cheap, it's in line with its competition, and should be a top consideration for any luxury SUV shopper.