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2012 BMW X3

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2012 BMW X3 Review

Great crossover with some room for improvement

Reviewed by Automotive on

Overview
After a complete redesign last year, the 2012 BMW X3 soldiers on virtually unchanged. The new crossover is longer, wider, taller, and more luxurious than ever. Now in its second generation, the X3 has matured into a much more refined creature to tackle the urban jungle.

At the heart of the entry-level BMW X3 xDrive28i lies a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine with 260 horsepower -- the same number as the previous generation's top-level engine. Optionally, a turbocharged version of that inline six found in X3 xDrive35i models ups the ante to 300 horsepower. Yet, despite the increased size, weight, and power, BMW's new eight-speed automatic (replacing 2010's six-speed automatic and manual transmissions) helps the BMW X3 gain 2 mpg in the city and 1 to 2 mpg on the highway, depending on the engine.

As denoted with the "xDrive" nomenclature, all-wheel drive comes standard on all 2012 BMW X3 models. BMW has made great strides in keeping the new X3 competitive, as there weren't many competitors when it originally debuted. Now, there are plenty of alternatives to keep BMW on its feet, forcing the German automaker to switch production from Graz, Austria to Spartanburg, South Carolina into a larger factory closer closer to where most BMW X3s are sold.

The Range

Bodystyle: SUV
Engines: 3.0-liter inline-6, 3.0-liter inline-6 turbocharged
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Models: X3 xDrive28i, X3 xDrive35i

What's New

Although all-new last year, the 2012 BMW X3 gets plenty of changes. High-gloss interior trim now comes standard, as do floor mats on X3 xDrive28i models. Heated rear seats and headlight washers now come as part of the upgrade package for BMW's cold weather options. However, the Cold Weather Package now comes with a standard heated steering wheel. A new M Sport package is available, too. For 2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i models, a panorama sunroof is now standard, the Convenience package has been merged with the Premium package, and the Sport Activity package now includes 19-inch twin-spoke wheels.

Exterior

Mimicking the more fluidic, less controversial style of all new BMWs, the 2012 BMW X3 looks more mature. Rather than swaths of black plastic over the wheel wells and all over the bumpers like the first generation, the new X3 is handsome, if not somewhat conservative. The bodywork now has subtle creases running down the entirety of its sides and similar bends in the hood's metal, giving it a muscular appearance. Equipped with HID headlights, BMW's "angel-eye" rings around the bulbs are outfitted with LED running lamps.

Interior

The weakest point of the previous generation X3 was undoubtedly the interior. BMW finally addressed this point, giving the latest vehicle an upscale-looking cabin that mimics that of other models in BMW's lineup. Coming with standard leatherette seating or optional leather seating surfaces, the 2012 BMW X3 offers an array of optional equipment including a 40/20/40 fold-down pass-through rear seat for skis, a premium audio package, and a GPS built into the 8.8-inch iDrive monitor.

Performance & Handling

The 2012 BMW X3's destroyed its old benchmarks with improved powertrains. The X3 xDrive28i is about a half-second quicker to 60 mph than the outgoing model at 6.7 seconds. The xDrive35i model is even quicker, posting a standstill-to-60 mph time of 5.3 seconds. The ride is smooth, but the steering doesn't feel naturally progressive at times due to BMW's ActiveSteering option. Also available is BMW's Driving Dynamics Controller that allows drivers to optimize throttle, ride, and handling settings.

Safety

The2012 BMW X3 comes standard with stability control, traction control, active head restraints, front and rear side-curtain airbags, advanced dual-thresh hold airbags for the driver and front passenger, front door-mounted airbags, an antitheft alarm, and a crash sensor that disconnects the alternator, fuel pump, and starter from the battery, automatically unlocks doors, and turns on hazard and interior lights.

EPA Fuel Economy

X3 xDrive28i: 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway
X3 xDrive35i: 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway

You'll Like

  • Beautiful interior design
  • Great driving dynamics
  • Powerful, efficient engines
  • Stylish exterior

You Won't Like

  • Options get expensive quickly
  • Finicky steering system
  • Some interior materials not yet up to par

Sum Up

Great crossover with some room for improvement

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Audi Q5
  • Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class
  • Cadillac SRX
  • Volvo XC60
  • Land Rover LR2
  • Lexus RX

See the New 2015 X3.

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