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Mudfest 2013: Tom's Hardware Helps Test 23 SUVs

BMW X3

Stepping into BMW's X3 from the X1, you immediately notice a size increase. The 2013 X3 is actually close to the same size as the first-generation X5, from 14 years ago. Our X3 test mule came with the smaller 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four instead of the turbocharged inline-six found in the already-discussed X1. Power is only down about 60 hp, but the tradeoff yields better city fuel economy.

In comparing past generations, that 2.0-liter turbo engine replaces the 3.0-liter inline-six from previous years, making identical power. Not all of the changes go over smoothly, though. BMW equipped the X3 it submitted with engine start-stop capability that we weren’t particularly fond of. When you're stopped, the motor shuts off. Then, when you press the gas pedal, it fires back up and you're on your way. It's not a transparent technology, though. The stop and then start is very noticeable because the engine shudders a bit as it shuts off and then fires back up.

Luckily, turning this "feature" off was as simple as putting the X3 into sport mode, yielding a side-effect of improved shift points from the eight-speed automatic transmission. The X3 employs the same xDrive AWD system as the X1, experiencing the same oversteer sensation before sending power to the front wheels. As you might expect, the turbocharged four-cylinder is adequate, but certainly not as fun as the bigger six-cylinder. With that said, the X3 is still an enjoyable crossover.

The X3 employs a similar infotainment setup as the X1, utilizing the same control knob we like so much. Functionality was largely the same, so we didn't spend too much time reconfirming that the same features worked.

Vehicle Specifications
Vehicle2013 BMW X3
Trim levelxDrive28i
Engine3.0 L BMW TwinPower inline-six (N55B30)
TransmissionEight-speed Steptronic automatic
DrivetrainxDrive
InfotainmentBMW iDrive Navigation
Notable featuresEngine start-stopRear-view cameraPark distance controlBMW Assist with BluetoothBMW AppsServotronic vehicle speed-sensitive power steering
Fuel economy21 city, 28 highway, 24 combined MPG
MSRP$52,345