NEW FOR 2008:

– Active head reststraints and rollover systems standard on all models
– 18-inch alloy wheels standard on X3 3.0si

Having undergone considerable enhancements in 2007, the BMW X3 is unchanged for 2008 save for safety enhancements.

Available as the 3.0i and 3.0si, the X3 uses a 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine that makes 215 hp in the 3.0i, and 260 hp in the 3.0si. Both engines mate to a six-speed manual transmission that can be optioned to a six-speed automatic. Both models are all-wheel drive.

Features on the 3.0i include 17-inch alloy wheels, manual air conditioning, front and rear stabilizer bars, speed-sensitive power steering, automatic headlamps, trailer stability control, fog lamps, heated mirrors, rain-sensing wipers with heated washer jets, tire pressure warning system, roof rails, rear washer/wiper, rear roof spoiler, three-spoke multifunction steering wheel, cruise control, keyless entry, heated "leatherette" seats with six-way manual adjustment, locking glove-box with rechargeable flashlight, cargo cover, split folding rear seats, tilt and telescopic wheel, and CD/MP3 stereo.

The 3.0si adds 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, Xenon headlamps, chrome window frame trim, privacy glass, eight-way power seats with memory, front seatback storage nets, illuminated vanity mirrors, cargo compartment parcel rails, front and rear reading lights, footwell lighting, and reversible cargo compartment liner.

While it’s an expensive player in the midsize SUV segment, the X3 offers comfortable seating, a nicely-sized envelope, and an engine that work well for the vehicle’s size, especially with the more powerful 3.0si. Both use xDrive all-wheel drive, a torque management system that switches seamlessly from rear- to all-wheel drive when necessary, and powers up or brakes a specific wheel before any start to lose their grip. Add in the BMW cachet and this is a good choice at the company’s entry level for SUVs.

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