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#4

in 2009 Luxury Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $18,260 - $18,260
Original MSRP: $39,700 - $39,700
MPG: 16 City / 23 Hwy
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2009 BMW X3 Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The majority of test drivers are very pleased with the BMW X3's performance, which offers plenty of power and pleasantly sporty handling.

  • "The steering is simply the best, the engine is joyous to use, the suspension is nimble and the brakes are effective." -- Edmunds 
  • "Responsive and carlike in any driving condition. Generally good steering feel, but some testers complain effort is too heavy at low speeds. Tight turning radius a help in close quarters. Good brake pedal feel." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Like BMW's cars, the X3 offers top-notch road manners. Some may find the steering wheel too difficult to turn, but its heavy rotations render spot-on directional control." -- Cars.com

Acceleration and Power

For the most part, critics feel the engine in the BMW X3 offers plenty of power. It comes with a 3.0-liter, 260-horsepower inline-six with either a six-speed manual transmission (unique in this class) or a six-speed automatic. According to the EPA, automatic models achieve 17/24 mpg city/highway, while manual models achieve 16/23 mpg.

  • "It has crisp initial throttle response and acceleration that builds and builds the deeper you plant your foot." -- Car and Driver
  • "Engine makes a classy growl while accelerating, is muted while cruising." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The X3 power plant delivers spirited power over the majority of its rpm range, while the transmission's gearchanges seem positively caffeinated in their eagerness. It's a bright, responsive pairing." -- Edmunds
  • "We drove only the 3.0i, which, with either transmission, had punch aplenty for merging onto the Costa del Sol's autovias and chasing goats through narrow mountain switchbacks." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The standard manual transmission is one of the best stick shifts on the market, moving between ratios with a well-weighted accuracy. But BMW USA's prediction that more than 95 percent of buyers will opt for the smooth-shifting six-speed autobox sounds on the money to us." -- AutoWeek

Handling and Braking

Test drivers find the X3 to be an extremely competent vehicle on the road, handling and braking in a manner that is consistent with BMW's other products -- sporty and firm-riding.

  • "Its 260 horsepower is less than that of most rivals, and its ride is slightly stiff-legged, though last year's suspension tweaks create a somewhat softer ride than with previous models." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Sporty and firm even with base suspension, but bumps are absorbed without undue harshness or unwanted body motions." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The optional Servotronic steering is flat-out wonderful. It's speed-sensitive, adding more assist at low speeds, and invisibly altering the steering ratio, so the car turns more with less steering input. Parallel-parking is a breeze, as are quick, mid-block U-turns." -- Automotive.com
  • "Its suspension is tuned to tackle long stretches at speed or twists and turns with pinpoint precision and agility." -- Chicago Tribune

All-Wheel Drive

The 2009 X3 features a standard xDrive all-wheel drive (AWD) system, which electronically varies front-to-rear torque and traction control to optimize grip. However, the X3 AWD is not considered by most testers as a serious off-road system, rather an excellent system for on-road foul weather and for modest off-road excursions. 

  • "With limited ground clearance and all-season tires, the X3 has few off-road aspirations but one of the best all-weather all-wheel-drive systems on the market." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Beyond the pure performance numbers -- where the X3 simply runs away from the [Land Rover] LR2 -- the BMW is a much more engaging vehicle to drive every day, and it also dispatches all but the roughest terrain with surprising agility." -- Edmunds
  • "BMW insists that the X3 AWD system is meant for on- or off-road use but, without a low setting, we'd probably skip any Baja adventure." -- Chicago Tribune
Used car average prices are provided by ClearBook™, a TrueCar™ product