2018 BMW X3
We tested the original BMW X3 sports activity vehicle back in 2003. We marveled at how the brand’s second utility managed to add boat-loads of everyday comfort and versatility while maintaining so much of its namesake 3-series sport sedan’s concise driving character. Now, as the 3rd generation X3 has arrived, it’s time to take stock of BMW’s compact ute once again, and see just how it’s evolved.
BMW jumped into the premium utility market before most. They were a true early adopter in embracing the new “utilitarian” norm for luxury carmakers. But, the 2018 X3 drives into a much more crowded automotive landscape than the original did, with rival luxury utes at every turn. Still, BMW didn’t want to mess too much with success.
So, they kept the new X3’s exterior dimensions almost the same as the outgoing model. Yet, they stretched the wheelbase by over two inches for additional interior space.
That’s because its lesser sibling the X1, which has the advantage of being front-wheel-drive based, had almost the same amount of room inside as the out-going rear-drive based X3.
But behind the wheel, there’s no comparison. While the X1 is indeed very fun to drive, it’s more like a lightweight, nimble plaything, whereas the X3 feels solid and nailed down; yes still very much like a 3-Series sedan.
And, since BMW does place such a high priority on that driving experience, it’s notable that an M Performance model is newly available in the X3.
The M40i, which replaces the xDrive35i, features BMW’s 3.0-liter turbo inline-6, outputting 355-horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque, an 8-speed automatic transmission, and more rear-bias for the standard xDrive all-wheel-drive system.
It does indeed feel powerful, but like any performance machine, things can be loud and a bit abrasive at times.
M40i’s get sportier-looking trim inside too, as well as an aero kit for the exterior; where you’ll also notice black chrome tips for the performance exhaust system, M Sport brakes, and 19, 20, or 21-inch wheels.
But, we also spent time in the much higher volume xDrive30i, which replaces the xDrive28i base model. Under its hood, is a slightly updated 2.0-liter I4 turbo; now with 248–horsepower, 8-more than before, and 258 lb.-ft. of torque.
It ramped us to 60 in 6.5-seconds. Really good for any “base model” utility. The M40i does the same deed about two seconds quicker.
All-wheel-drive grip, and easy to use launch control, get you off the line efficiently; while the 8-speed automatic that comes with all X3s, snaps off shifts with an almost brutal immediacy, that keeps the turbo-4 in its sweet spot for the whole ¼-mile trip, which takes 15.0-seconds at 90 miles-per-hour. It may not be the absolute fastest SUV out there, but it feels like it.
Weight is also virtually the same as last year, but it has been shifted around, with a little more now supported by the rear wheels for improved handling.
Even more so here in the 30i where turn-ins are deadly quick, and body roll comfortably minimal. You do have to keep inputs smooth however, as stability control is quick to trigger.
Two thumbs up for braking, as stops from 60 averaged just 102-feet. A firm pedal with short travel leads to a comfortable and reassuring feeling. All-in-all a very well-balanced package.
With X1 now taking up entry-level SAV duties, even the base X3 gets much nicer materials throughout the cabin, part of a pleasant overall evolution to the familiar layout inside. The dash-top touchscreen now stretches over 10-inches, and the available Head Up Display is 75% larger than before.
Very minor changes to cargo capacity, with rear space up slightly to 28.7 cubic-ft., while overall volume with rear seats folded, falls just a tad to 62.7 cubic-ft.
This X3 is also the first BMW utility to offer a factory-installed trailer hitch. Towing capacity is good for a compact, at 4,400-lbs.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the 30i are 22-City, 29-Highway, and 25-Combined; our average was a disappointing 23.3 miles-per-gallon of Premium. Still, there’s an average Energy Impact Score of 13.2-barrels of yearly oil use, with C02 emissions of 5.9-tons.
X3 pricing starts about the same as before, with an xDrive30i at $43,645. M40i’s begin at $55,495.
Keeping performance high on the priority list, while bringing more utility and luxury along for the thrill ride, will surely keep the 2018 BMW X3 a popular choice, we also think the X3 has evolved enough for many of them to continue to look on with envy.
- Engine: 3.0 liter (xDrive35i) / 2.0 liter (xDrive30i)
- Horsepower: 355 (xDrive35i) / 248 (xDrive30i)
- Torque: 369 lb.-ft. (xDrive35i) / 258 lb.-ft. (xDrive30i)
- 0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds (xDrive30i)
- 1/4 mile: 15.0 seconds @ 90 mph
- EPA: 22 mpg city / 29 mpg highway (xDrive30i)
- Energy Impact: 14.2 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 5.9 tons/yr
2023 BMW X7
Should Keep The BMW Faithful Coming Back For More
While BMW got serious about their SUV game around the same time as most other luxury brands, it took them until just a few years ago to deliver a 3-row example. This year, that X7 is updated with new style and new tech. So, let’s see if that makes it the ultimate premium 3-row family machine.
When it comes to utility vehicles, bigger seems to be better for a lot of people. So, for BMW, there’s none bigger or better than the X7 3-row utility, which for 2023 gets a comprehensive update after just 4-years on the market. That includes a facelift to bring it more in line with the new 7-series carline, which is to say joins the more vertical, aggressive grille party. Also, the actual headlights have been moved lower in the front fascia, with squinty DRLs above for the first time on a BMW. In back, taillights take on a 3D posture, with a new chrome bar connecting them.
There are also multiple new M Sport packages to choose from to spice up the exterior, with larger air intakes up front, high-gloss black trim, upgraded exhaust, cascade grille lighting, and 22-inch wheels, as well as M Sport brakes…
…and the interior too, with aluminum trim and exclusive steering wheel. But, by far the biggest change inside for ‘23 is a new dashtop curved display that eliminates the typical BMW well-hooded gauge pod and blends 12-inch Live Cockpit Pro into the 15-inch infotainment touchscreen, which now features iDrive8. Both a Head-Up Display and a large panoramic sunroof are standard.
Whether set up for 2 or 3 passengers, 2nd row seat room remains plentiful, and though the X7 doesn’t look ungainly large like many of its competitors, access to the 3rd row is quite good. Cargo space is reached through a fairly unique, Range Rover-style, split tailgate, which is quite oddly satisfying to watch unfold. There’s room for 48.6 cubic-ft. of goods behind the 2nd row, with a max of 90.4 cu.-ft.
The base xDrive40i has always been the sensible choice, even more so now with a new inline-6 turbo getting a significant bump in horsepower from 335 to 375, and a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that results in a total of 398 lb-ft. of torque.
At our Mason Dixon test track, there was enough to blast this big beast to 60 in just 5.4-seconds. That’s only about half a second slower than the V8 did the deed back in 2019. Making that optional 523-horsepower V8 simply overkill at this point. Our best ¼-mile pass was 13.9-seconds at 100 miles-per-hour. All X7s get a quick shifting sport-tuned 8-speed automatic transmission, which adds a new Sprint Function that finds the lowest usable gear instantly and maxes electric boost with a hold of the left shift paddle. What fun!
New looks and updated tech are cool, but BMW has also addressed dynamics as well, with a retuning of all chassis systems, including the optional Dynamic Handling Package which adds adaptive suspension with roll stabilization and uses GPS and camera data to prepare for what’s coming. We’re not sure if our slalom course was anticipated, but the X7 sure felt well-equipped to handle it. All-wheel drive is standard on all X7s, along with comprehensive drive modes.
In our braking runs, the pads bit down hard quickly, stopping us from 60 in just 115-feet with very little nosedive.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the 6-cylinder are 21-City, 25-Highway, and 22-Combined. We averaged just 21.0 miles-per-gallon on Premium.
There’s an average Energy Impact Score; 13.5-barrels of oil yearly, with CO2 emissions of 6.5-tons.
Pricing starts at $78,845, and it’s a significant step up from there to $104,095 if you want the V8. Even more reason to stick with the 6-cylinder as far as we’re concerned.
It took the ultimate driving machine folks quite a bit of time to enter the 3-row family crossover segment, but when they did, they were able to create their largest utility ever and keep it consistent with their values. For 2023, the BMW X7 gets even more dynamic, embraces new tech, and looks better too. All things that should keep the BMW faithful coming back for more.
- Engine: I-6
- Horsepower: 375
- 0-60 mph: 5.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 115 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 21.0 MPG
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 398 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 13.9-seconds at 100 mph
- EPA: 21 City / 25 Highway / 22 Combined