Sacramento, California – BMW introduced its X3 in 2004, calling it a Sports Activity Vehicle, sort of a luxo sport-ute that could smash through an off-road landscape if you really felt like damaging your somewhat pricey ride.
Most of us opted to simply drive the luxury liner and enjoy the perks. A reworked version for 2011 simply reinforces those urges.
My tester was the pricier of the two trim levels – a 2011 BMW X3 xDrive35i (complicated label, no?) with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $41,050. And hey, that isn’t so bad for a five-passenger, four-door SUV from BMW.
Alas, a full reading of the sticker included enough extras to load into the back of the thing. Premium and technology goodies included a panoramic moonroof, lumbar support, rear-view camera, park-distance control system and a navigation system, to name just a few.
That brought the bottom line to $53,015. Sigh!
I asked myself if I could live without the extras. And the quick answer was “yes.” But knowing BMW’s market niche, I’m guessing that most devotees absolutely want everything this xDrive35i was packing. And let’s face it, one person’s $53 K is another person’s life savings. BMW fans want the varsity package.
And for a week, yes, I was spoiled in opulent surroundings and excellent engineering. Yet it was the basic package that impressed me most.
The tester’s road manners were extraordinary – smooth, light, agile and powerful when asked. The engine is a 3-liter in-line 6 turbo with 300 horses. That’s more than enough juice to get the SUV down the road and up the hills in a hurry. Yet even at full song, interior cabin noise is slight.
Solid? You bet.
Performance, control and stability features are top-notch. Ditto the extensive safety systems. The AWD system functions with sweet precision.
Interior controls are plentiful and take some time to learn. I’m still trying to figure out BMW’s out-of-the-ordinary turn-signal system, but I think I just have a blind spot on this particular engineering marvel.
Oh, it looks good too. A clean aerodynamic look has just enough sharpness at the edges to make this BMW a sporty-looking family outing wagon. This X3 also is bigger than its ancestor.
Gas mileage is, well, not so bad if you don’t blink spending cash for BMWs – 19 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.
Overall, this is what you expect from a second-generation model – something better than the first generation. A nice effort. If you have the dough and need a luxury-level SUV, it should be on your test-drive list.
PLEASE NOTE: I’LL BE ON THE ROAD NEXT WEEK, BREAKING WITH THE ROUTINE AND DOING SOMETHING I DON’T DO ENOUGH: ENJOYING THE SIMPLE PLEASURES OF DRIVING.--mg