2011 BMW X3

2011 BMW X3

Episode 3051
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

BMW as a company strives to stay ahead of the game, and such was the case with the 2004 X3 Sport Activity Vehicle. The X3 was the first compact crossover from a luxury sedan brand. And, despite a somewhat cramped interior and rough ride, its BMW-honed performance made it shine.  Well, now a bigger, more comfortable, X3 has arrived. So, is it still just as much fun to drive, or has the new X3 gone soft?

Growing comfort and space were indeed the main design targets for the 2011 BMW X3 Sport Activity Vehicle, but if our first drive is any indication, it certainly hasn’t gone soft. The ride certainly has improved thanks to a redesigned anti-dive strut suspension up front and a five-link arrangement in the rear, but it remains plenty solid. And the optional Dynamic Damper Control allows a driver tuned ride. 

A Lexus it’s not, however, as optional 19-inch wheels and Pirelli low profile tires keep things feeling taut not plush. Handling is very responsive, but the X3 does still feel tall and there is some head tossing; at times feeling almost like a traditional body on frame SUV. 

But on the track, traditional BMW was more the feel, as it scooted through our slalom course like a 3-series sport sedan, which is to say fast and well balanced, despite that taller center of gravity. Steering is among the best we’ve felt in an SUV. Handling benefits from the xDrive permanent all-wheel-drive system. In addition to being rear-biased, it works with Dynamic Stability Control to apply braking to the inside rear wheel when cornering to reduce both understeer and sharpen response. 

Off the line, our X3 xDrive35i slams you in your seat as it propelled us to 60 in 6-seconds flat. The engine is strong and sounds mean. Power is immediate, as we noticed no turbo-lag. The quarter mile passed in 14.6-seconds at 95 miles per hour feeling smooth and progressive all the way down the track. The throttle is firm, and shifts from the 8-speed automatic are quick and direct. 

Power for the X3 lineup comes from a pair of familiar, 3.0-liter inline-6’s. While the base xDrive28i is normally aspirated, our xDrive35i sports twin turbos and BMW’s Valvetronic and Double-VANOS Stepless Variable Valve Timing for 300-horsepower and 300 lb-ft. of torque. Nice round numbers both. 

Also nicely rounded out is the X3’s new styling. The design has been cleaned up all around, especially at the rear. It’s still classic BMW up front, however, with a deep front apron and signature twin kidney grilles pointing to more aggressive hood and fender lines. In profile, the look is classier with exaggerated flair for even more personality than before. A liftgate mounted rear spoiler, a pair of polished exhaust tips, rocker trim, and fender-mounted turn signals add to the sporty persona. 

Inside the X3, fit & finish are improved as is the feel of many materials, though a fair amount of black plastic remains, giving it more of an athletic feel, not rich or overly inviting. The interior is very quiet, however, and optional dual sunroofs do add an airy feel. While this may be the entry level BMW crossover, it’s still available with all the expected BMW fitment, including the latest iDrive. We found the seats from the X3’s Sport Activity Package a bit hard with overly aggressive side bolstering for a utility. 

Most of our staff were annoyed by the flickable electronic gear shift, and the buttons for Dynamic Damping took some getting used to.  But, in typical BMW fashion all controls are driver-oriented. Rear seats are very comfortable, and room is better, but still barely adequate.  While cargo capacity, with all seats in use, actually falls a bit to 27.6 cubic-feet. But, the cargo floor does feature sliding rails with adjustable tie-downs for securing loads… all accessed by an optional power lift gate. 

Government Fuel Economy ratings for the 2011 BMW X3 xDrive35i are 19 City and 26 Highway, so our average of 20.1 miles-per-gallon of Premium was disappointing. The Energy Impact Score is a moderate 16.3 barrels of oil per year, with a carbon footprint of 8.9 annual tons of CO2.  

Built in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the BMW X3 xDrive28i begins at $37,625. Our xDrive35i is based at $41,925, but can easily crest 50G’s with options. So, for a compact crossover, it is definitely pricey.

But then, no one ever claimed an ultimate driving machine would be cheap. And, the 2011 X3 is a true BMW and a fine follow-up to the original. Its big price and sporty character won’t appeal to everyone, but it’s perfect for both the BMW faithful, and those that have always wanted a BMW but needed more utility than a car. It will sell long and well. 


  • Engine: 3.0 liter DOHC
  • Horsepower: 300
  • Torque: 300 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 6 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 14.6 seconds @ 95 mph
  • EPA: 19 mpg city/ 26 mpg highway
  • Energy Impact: 16.3 barrels oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 8.9 tons/yr
2023 GMC Canyon 1

2023 GMC Canyon

Canyon Goes Bigger

Episode 4303
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

Most people know the GMC Canyon as the Chevrolet Colorado’s professional grade cousin. And while that sounds like just marketing speak, with an all-new design of GM’s midsize truck platform comes more genuine brand separation. So, let’s see what the third-gen GMC Canyon delivers in real time!

Small trucks are once again a big deal, and part of the reason is that they are no longer small. There’s not much about this 2023 GMC Canyon that resembles the ¼-ton Sonomas, S-10s, Rangers, and Datsun trucks that were wildly popular in the 1980s.

Of course, then, people were willing to sacrifice certain “big-truck” things for an easier to use and more economical pickup experience. Well, we don’t seem to be big on compromise for much of anything these days, and the current midsize crop of trucks deliver more than ever. So fittingly, the 2023 Canyon will be available as a Crew Cab only with a 5-foot bed. No more extended cab or long bed options. Wheelbase is about 3-inches longer than before, with the front wheels pushed more towards the front. It definitely looks tougher, and they’ve even eliminated the much-hated front air dam that protruded well below the front bumper.

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The Canyon also comes exclusively with the high-output version of GM’s 2.7-liter turbocharged I-4, with a stout 310-horsepower and 430 lb-ft. of torque. At times it feels even more powerful than those numbers would indicate, with its diesel-like torque delivery enabling a best-in-class max tow rating of 7,700-lbs. No choice of transmission either, strictly 8-speed automatic, but you can still decide whether you want rear or 4-wheel-drive.

At minimum, ground clearance is 9.6-inches, which is more than an inch taller than last year, and almost 2-inches over Chevy’s base Colorado. And since it’s all about the off-road packages these days, our AT4 tester comes with 4-wheel drive, off-road suspension, locking rear diff, 2-speed transfer case, hill descent control, and 18-inch wheels with all-terrain tires.

And that’s just where things get started, as at the top of the heap, there’s a new AT4X with 10.7-inches of ground clearance, enhanced front and rear e-locking differentials, 33-inch mud terrain tires, Multimatic dampers, and an additional Baja Drive Mode. We’ll have more on the AT4X real soon.

But for all Canyons, including this AT4, GMC went tech-heavy, as all get 11-inch infotainment screens and a fully digital driver display in either 8 or 11-inches. Plus, an available head up display comes with most trims, and there are even optional underbody cameras.

Unique AT4 features include a Jet Black and Timber interior motif with stitched logos on the leather front seats. Those seats are definitely comfortable, and it feels maybe a tad roomier than before, but still well shy of the sprawling space in a full-size truck. It’s even more noticeable in the rear, though there are more practical storage options back here.

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The AT4 gets a sliding rear window, along with a tailgate storage system to complement the integrated ruler, and bed side-mounted 120-volt power outlet. The Canyon already delivered one of the best rides in the midsize class, and the taller suspension seems to only improve on that; it’s not quite crossover plush, but certainly great for a body on frame truck.

Though the higher ground clearance and off-road emphasis kept it from being a track star. Indeed, healthy amounts of understeer and body roll greeted us in our handling course. It was a little hesitant off the line in speed runs, but once rolling, power poured on steadily. 0-60 in only 7.5-seconds, and through the ¼-mile in 15.6-seconds at 91 miles-per-hour.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the AT4 are 17-City, 21-Highway, and 19-Combined; we averaged an acceptable 18.2 miles-per-gallon of Regular. Pricing starts with a 2-wheel-drive Elevation at $38,395. That puts it at midlevel Chevrolet Colorado, with is consistent with the mission of the new Canyon. All other trims come with 4-wheel drive, this AT4 starting at $45,395, and the AT4X now eclipsing Denali as the highest offering at $56,995.

So, as small trucks have grown, so has the price of entry. But if that doesn’t scare you off, there is no denying the 2023 GMC Canyon is yes bigger, but also bolder and badder than before. Does that necessarily make it better? We say positively yes!


  • Engine: 2.7L Turbo-4
  • Horsepower: 310
  • 0-60 mph: 7.5 seconds
  • 60-0 Braking: 121 feet (avg)
  • MW Fuel Economy: 18.2 mpg (Regular)
  • Transmission: 8-speed auto
  • Torque: 430 lb-ft.
  • 1/4 Mile: 15.6-seconds at 91 mph
  • EPA: 17 City / 21 Highway / 19 Combined