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BMW X3 Performance

Test drivers agree that every engine in the 2016 BMW X3's lineup offers impressive power and quick acceleration in most situations. Reviewers say the X3's agile handling and responsive steering make for some of the best driving dynamics in the class. The 2016 X3 also earns good fuel economy estimates compared to rivals.

  • "The X3 delivers the sportiness and refinement you expect from the brand in a package that's small but highly versatile." -- Consumer Guide (2015)
  • "In true BMW fashion, superior handling and performance are at the heart of the X3's appeal. The typical luxury SUV is uninspiring on winding canyon roads, but the X3 breaks the mold with sharp reflexes that make it a top pick in its class for driver engagement." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "The 2015 BMW X3 continues to stand out against rivals like the Mercedes-Benz GLK, Acura RDX and Cadillac SRX, thanks to a dynamic driving nature that makes it feel more like one of the company's sport sedans than a big SUV." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "It rode calmly, steered neatly, accelerated briskly, shifted gears with decisive subtlety, and generally did all the things that inspire driver pleasure." -- Motor Trend (2011)

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 BMW X3 sDrive28i and X3 xDrive28i are equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 240 horsepower. The X3 xDrive35i has a 300-horsepower turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine and the X3 xDrive28d comes with a turbodiesel 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 180 horsepower. An eight-speed automatic transmission comes standard on all models, and a sport transmission with paddle shifters is available. The EPA estimates that the base X3 sDrive28i gets up to 21/28 mpg city/highway, which is good for the class. The diesel-powered xDrive28d model earns even more impressive fuel economy estimates of 27/34 mpg city/highway.

Automotive journalists report that the X3's base four-cylinder engine provides quick acceleration, though a few wish it had a bit more highway passing power. The available six-cylinder engine produces authoritative acceleration, reviewers say. They also report that the available turbodiesel engine is powerful but provides slightly slower acceleration than other engines in the lineup. A few critics complain that the engine's fuel-saving stop/start system doesn’t restart from a stop as quickly as they'd like.

  • "Whether you prefer the gasoline-powered 4-cylinder or 6-cylinder, the 2016 BMW X3 delivers surprising acceleration. Even the diesel-powered X3 xDrive28d gets up to highway speeds quickly, although it's not particularly responsive if you need to pass, for example. Still, with the turbocharged 4-cylinder propelling the X3 from zero to 60 mph in the mid-6-second range, the 6-cylinder turbo doing it in about five seconds, and the diesel getting you there in a bit less than eight seconds, there's little to complain about." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The auto stop-start function that comes with all X3 models does optimize fuel economy ratings, but it can be an annoyance in heavy traffic, as the engine doesn't restart as quickly or smoothly as we'd like when transitioning between the brake pedal and the gas. Fortunately, you can manually disable this feature." -- Edmunds
  • "With 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft. of torque, it is plenty stout for the type of weekend a typical X3 owner might have planned. The best part is that peak torque comes on at 1,300 rpm and remains linear until it finally tapers off at about 5,000." -- Left Lane News (2015)

Handling and Braking

Reviewers praise the 2016 BMW X3's athletic handling around corners. They also appreciate its precise steering, which they say offers great feedback. Auto writers note that although the X3's ride quality is somewhat firm, it's still comfortable for daily driving and long hauls. The 2016 X3 comes standard with rear-wheel drive, while upper trims come with all-wheel drive.

  • "The X3 delivers on the promise of BMW performance in other respects, too. Take it around a turn with enthusiasm and it feels light and nimble. As compact luxury crossovers go, it's one of the sportiest, particularly with the Dynamic Handling package's adaptive suspension dampers and torque-vectoring AWD. Although the ride quality is definitely on the firm side, most people will find the 2016 BMW X3 quite livable, whether commuting on urban streets or taking long highway trips." -- Edmunds
  • "… if you like taking your on- and offramps quickly, the X3's responsive handling and steering will keep you satisfied." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The electronic power steering and the other electronic aids and assists actually did manage to keep us out of trouble on the back roads about 45 miles outside of Atlanta on our test drive. With fresh and damp fall leaves on the ground, we needed all the assists available. But at the end of the day, we think the X3 gives some of the best driver feedback of any of the new electronic power steering systems available." -- Left Lane News (2015)
  • "Steering is arguably as good as it gets in this class, the electrically assisted, vehicle-speed-sensitive power setup possessing a fair share of progressive heft and decent self-centering, but deep secrets regarding the next move of the chassis stay unrevealed." -- Car and Driver (2013)
Review Last Updated: 7/27/15

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