From every angle there's no mistaking the BMW X3's heritage. It looks like it's a BMW. But the height and the 18 inch wheels insure that everyone knows that this is not just a simple BMW wagon. From the BMW kidneys in front to the spinning blue and white logo in the back, the junior BMW SUV looks stylish and assertive. The arm rests on the doors sport nice leather inserts that match the artisan-crafted seats.
Lacking the dreaded I-Drive, the radio, heat and air conditioning controls are composed of oblong buttons that are simpleto identify and use. The sift-boot is surrounded by handsome veneered wood. The aluminum-capped six-speed shifter falls right into hand. The clutch return is smooth and even, as are the steering, handling, acceleration and stopping.
Fit and finish - both inside and outside - continue the BMW trend of edging ever closer to Rolls Royce of old, but with a few modern twists like the large wood-veneered door handle that cuts across each of the two front doors. Basically the X3 feels like a BMW 3 Series that is taller and heavier. It feels more like a truck than a car, which is not surprising 2005 BMW X3 3.0L six cylinder on carlist.com as it runs on massive Dunlop 18-inch off-road tires.
I did not drive the X3 on the usual back country roads. Driving over the undulating and chewed up sections of Route 24 between the Caldicott Tunnel and Walnut Creek, along with some poorly paved streets, told me that the X3 was quite capable.
I averaged 19 mpg for the week of the usual traffic-snarled kid commute and limited freeway use. The BMW X3 is designed to be an elegant option for those who want an SUV that actually fits into a normal parking space with enough room to open the doors. The BMW X3 performs those functions quite well indeed.