2013 BMW X3
2013 BMW X3. Click image to enlarge

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Manufacturer’s Website
BMW Canada

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

Photo Gallery:
2013 BMW X3

It’s a good thing BMW’s 2.0L TwinPower turbo-four and eight-speed auto make for such a winning combo, because they’re wedging it under the hoods of just about every vehicle they make.

Now the five-seat X3 mid-size crossover gets this blown four-pot and octo-cogged duo. It’s called the 2013 BMW X3 xDrive28i. Just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

Fuel economy is the name of the game here, and the all-wheel-drive X3 28i with a base price of $42,450 claims 9.5 L/100 city and 7.0 L/100 km highway. As always, these numbers are optimistic. When I picked up this tester the average fuel economy read 13.4 L/100, which implies some serious lead-footed activity. I managed a respectable 10.4 L/100 at the end of my run, much of which was on the highway.

About the only criticism you can level at this engine, other than its need for premium fuel, is that it clatters like a diesel when cold and it never completely quiets down, although you don’t hear anything on the inside once the engine is warm. The X3 weighs about 1,900 kg, which mutes the performance of this 241-hp engine when compared to the lighter 3 Series sedan, X1 crossover or Z4 sports car, but as always it’s that 258 lb-ft of torque available from 1,250 to 4,800 rpm that provides effortless urge.

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Well, as long as you’re not in Eco Pro mode, which when activated feels like someone snipped a couple of plug wires and installed Hizzonner Mayor Ford and Hizzbrother Doug in the back seat. Not recommended unless you’re very serious about saving fuel and holding up traffic.

Comfort is the default setting, while Sport does exactly that – throttle response quickens, shift points are moved further up the rev range and the steering gains a bit more heft. With many manufacturers these “Sport” settings seem more like a placebo (“Is this thing on?”), but kudos to BMW for its calibrations. Sport makes for quite a transformation.

The X3 is a handsome and purposeful looking rig. The dash design is classic Bimmer, and here showed good build quality although the beige “Leatherette” seating surfaces feel disappointingly cheap, and Senior Editor Yarkony noted some crude finish on the rear door handles. Vinyl in a $50,000 (as tested) Bimmer? Hmmmm…

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Uncharacteristically of BMW, I wasn’t loving the actual seats, either. They felt too flat, unyielding and lacked lateral support. I was loving the standard heated steering wheel, though.

You can’t talk about a BMW without speaking of handling, and this one had me scratching my head. Last year I tested the 300-hp turbo-six X3 xDrive35i and loved it. This four-cylinder X3 felt tippy, the ride was busy and there was a lot of lateral jostling. It just never really settled down, although when leaning on it, it would dig in and take a set. And yes, this X3 was on snow tires.

Interior space in the X3 is good. There is plenty of headroom front and back, and three adults can fit in the back for short periods. The load space is generous, and the optional ($200) Through Loading System gives a 40/20/40 split folding rear seat, opening up more possibilities. No powered liftgate on this tester.

As with any BMW I’ve tested, the package and option list here was comprehensive. The $3,600 Premium Package (a prerequisite, it seems) adds X-Line trim, panoramic sunroof, interior and exterior auto-dimming mirrors, front and rear park distance control and xenon headlights.

If you want navigation, the $2,200 Technology Package also includes text to speech, and BMW Assist (like GM’s OnStar) with Extended Bluetooth. The $300 BMW Apps Package plus Vermillion Red Metallic paint ($800) and SIRIUS tuner ($450) swelled the X3 xDrive28i’s price to $50,000.

See how this luxury mid-size crossover stacks up against the competition in our upcoming group test.

Pricing: 2013 BMW X3 xDrive28i
Base price:
Optional equipment: metallic paint $800; SIRIUS tuner $450; 40/20/40 split rear seat $200; Premium Package $3,600; Technology Package $2,200; BMW Apps Package $300
Destination charge: $2,095
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $52,095

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Crash test results
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

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