2018 BMW X3

2018 BMW X3

Episode 3731 , Episode 3745
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

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.

Specifications

  • 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
2024 Lexus GX550

2024 Lexus GX550

It’s A Land Cruiser With A Lexus Badge

Episode 4344
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

When most people think of Lexus SUVs, they tend to think of the RX, and for good reason. The RX was a key player in popularizing the luxury SUV market as we know it today. But, the Lexus SUV world is much bigger than that, of course, including something for adventurous, rugged, off-road types.

We’re not about to claim that there’s some kind of body-on-frame SUV resurgence happening, but it’s clear that car-like crossovers haven’t fully taken over the SUV world just yet; and more than any other brand, Toyota seems on a mission to make SUVs truly great again. Even when it comes to their Lexus brand with this new 2024 Lexus GX550.

When the first gen GX arrived for 2003, it seemed to go out of its way to disguise its substantial off-road capabilities behind some very soft-roader sheet-metal, but those that knew… knew that underneath, the GX was based on the rugged J120 Land Cruiser. Fast forward to this third-gen GX, and it looks like Lexus is fully embracing that Land Cruiser kinship going boxier and bolder than ever before. Square lines, chunky fenders, wide track, short overhangs, highly vertical windshield; all hallmarks of serious off-roaders.

The GX is also the first Lexus to benefit from their Overtrail Project which encourages Lexus owners to get out of their comfort zones and experience what their luxo-ute is actually capable of. So, Overtrail models are outfitted with 33-inch all-terrain tires on 18-inch wheels, a locking rear diff, and an Electronic Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that can independently unlock both front and rear stabilizer bars for more wheel articulation.

2024 Lexus GX550 3/4 Front
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2024 Lexus GX550 3/4 Rear
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Just like the recently released Toyota J250 Land Cruiser, the GX is built on Toyota’s Tundra truck frame, but instead of a four-cylinder turbo-hybrid, it’s launching with a 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6 with 349-horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. That’s 48-horsepower and 150 lb-ft over the previous GX’s V8. Max tow rating shoots up from 6,500 to 9,096-lbs. The GX works exclusively with a 10-speed automatic transmission, with full-time four-wheel-drive and a two-speed transfer case standard. Lexus says a hybrid option will be available later, but no word on if it’s the Land Cruiser’s 2.4-liter I4 hybrid or the V6 hybrid that’s currently available in the Tundra pickup.

It doesn’t take much time behind the wheel to appreciate the high seating position and great visibility of the GX; as rugged as it looks outside, it still feels plenty luxurious inside, and is highly functional too. There’s a big control center in front of the dash with a high-mounted 14-inch touchscreen, and dedicated knobs for temperature and volume just below. A third row of seating is available in most trims, providing space for six or seven passengers. But if you go Overtrail, Lexus assumes you’re not the big family type and would rather have the space for packing adventure gear, so it’s the only trim that is five-passenger only.

As rugged as it looks outside, it still feels plenty luxurious inside, and is highly functional too.

While the double-wishbone front and rear multi-link suspension of this Overtrail is clearly off-road inspired, it held up well enough in our Mason Dixon Dragway handling course. Slow and steady definitely won the race here, as the GX felt big and heavy, with notable weight shifting on transitions through the cones, and light steering. Stability systems were eager to kick in well before things could get out of sorts.

Buyers can add Lexus’ Adaptive Variable Suspension for smoothing things out on the highways without sacrificing off-road capabilities. It launched quite aggressively off the line in acceleration runs; again, sturdy and truck-like, with all four wheels biting into the pavement and propelling us forward harder than we were expecting, hitting 60 in 6.5 seconds.

2024 Lexus GX550 Dashboard
2024 Lexus GX550 Steering Wheel
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2024 Lexus GX550 Shifter
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Lots of grip and no drama, as this turbo-six puts plenty of power down instantly. It sounds good too; powerful, with a nice throaty exhaust note that was more of a V8 rumble than V6 trumpet. Quarter-mile completed in 14.9-seconds at 94 mph.

Braking runs were a little inconsistent, with the off-road tires seemingly gripping and pulling us in different directions. But stops averaged a great 114-feet from 60 mph, so we’ll accept the slightly unsettled feel.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 15-City, 21-Highway, and 17-Combined; we averaged a respectable 20.1 mpg of Premium. But it garners a worse than average Energy Impact Score of 17.5-barrels of yearly oil use, with 8.3-tons of CO2 emissions.

Pricing starts with Premium grade at $64,250, ranging to Luxury at $77,250, with Overtrail in between at $69,250. All trims can be plus sized for additional features.

The 2024 Lexus GX550 is clearly not just another luxury saturated soft-roader. It’s a real deal Land Cruiser with a Lexus moniker, and this Overtrail is the most off-road capable Lexus ever. That not only makes it appealing to traditional Lexus buyers, but to a whole “range” of new conquests as well.

Specifications

  • Engine: 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6
  • Transmission: 10-speed automatic
  • Horsepower: 349
  • Torque: 479 lb-ft
  • EPA: 15 City | 21 Highway | 17 Combined
  • 0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.9 seconds at 94 mph
  • 60-0 Braking (avg): 114 feet
  • MW Fuel Economy: 20.1 mpg (Premium)
  • Max Tow Rating: 9,096-lbs