Interest in any particular car typically wanes as its gets older. Unless, that is, you're talking about the BMW X3. The second-generation X3 was sold for seven years, yet BMW's constant enhancements made this X3 a sales juggernaut long past the traditional life span. Now the company has ushered in a fully redesigned 2018 X3 in hopes of keeping you within the BMW family, even as rival automakers introduce a host of new and recently revised luxury crossover SUVs.
From the outside, it's hard to tell BMW did anything. The 2018 X3 resembles the outgoing model to the point that you might not be able to tell the difference. The X3 itself is longer and wider, though, and the size boost produces tangible increases in head- and legroom for all passengers. Like the outside, the inside of the X3 is massaged rather than overhauled. The central display is now a touchscreen that sticks up from the dash, and it's loaded with the latest iDrive infotainment software and wireless Apple CarPlay functionality.
The redesigned X3 isn't a revolutionary departure from its massively successful predecessor. From that vantage point, the 2018 BMW X3 might seem like a bit of a disappointment. But as the old adage goes, you don't fix what isn't broken. This newest X3 remains one of our top recommendations for a luxury crossover SUV.
The 2018 BMW X3 is a five-passenger crossover sold in two trims, each with its own distinct powertrain. Under the hood of the xDrive30i is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (248 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque) paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Standard exterior features include 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and foglights, automatic wipers, roof rails, a power tailgate, a rearview camera, and power-folding, auto-dimming and heated mirrors.
Inside, you'll find an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with wheel-mounted shift paddles, keyless ignition, adjustable driving modes, tri-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front sport seats, a 40/20/40-split rear seat with individual seat recline, simulated leather upholstery, driver-seat memory settings, a 6.5-inch central display, BMW's iDrive infotainment interface, a USB port and a 12-speaker audio system.
There are multiple options packages available for the xDrive30i. The Convenience package adds LED headlights, keyless entry, a panoramic sunroof, satellite radio and four-way power lumbar adjustment for the front seats. The M Sport package adds the contents of the Convenience package, plus 19-inch wheels, more aggressive-looking front and rear bumpers, a sport steering wheel and a simulated leather-covered dashboard. Selecting either of these opens the gates to the Dynamic Handling package, which includes adaptive suspension dampers, upgraded brakes and variable-ratio steering.
The M40i is driven by a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine producing 355 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Additional features includes adaptive LED headlights, automatic high beams, a sport exhaust, a sport-tuned suspension, front and rear parking sensors, a launch control feature and the contents of the above three packages.
A number of packages can be added to either model. Driver aids are available through the Driving Assistance (forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert), Driving Assistance Plus (Driving Assistance package, adaptive cruise control, front cross-traffic, alert and lane departure warning and mitigation) and Parking Assistance (front and rear parking sensors, an automated parking system and a 360-degree parking camera) packages.
Additional luxury features are included in the Premium (19-inch wheels, heated front seats, navigation, a 10.3-inch touchscreen, a head-up display and BMW Remote Services) and Executive (Premium and Parking Assistance packages, adaptive LED headlights, automatic high beams, leather upholstery, a digital instrument panel and hands-free gesture controls for the touchscreen) packages.
Some of the above features can be ordered as stand-alone options. Additional extras, depending on packages selected, include 20- and 21-inch wheels, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, manual side-window shades, wireless phone charging, Apple CarPlay, a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system and a trailer hitch.