Looking to get behind the wheel of your favorite Bavarian `ute? With Cash for Clunkers and BMW's own incentives in effect, both the X3 and the diesel X5 are positioned in their most attractive sales positions yet. While the officially named CARS program is filled with numerous rules and restrictions, we will go through the details below.

Unfortunately for BMW, a Cash for Clunkers voucher only applies to new vehicles with an MSRP below $45,000. Luckily, the X3 xDrive30i is within the program's price range, making it one of four BMW models that are eligible for the voucher. The six-speed-manual-equipped X3 starts at $40,525, while the Steptronic-equipped model starts at $41,850. The 260-horsepower compact premium CUVs offer fuel economy ratings of 16 city/23 highway (19 combined) for the manual model, and 17 city/24 highway (20 combined) for the automatic model.

Now here's the confusing portion. In order to receive the maximum CARS credit of $4500, the tradein vehicle must achieve 5 combined mpg less than whichever X3 model is chosen. The $3500 credit is achievable as long as the gap in fuel economy between the tradein and the new X3 is just 2 combined mpg. While this may confine the maximum $4500 credit to full-size truck and SUV owners, the fact is the money is out there.

On the other hand, the terms for receiving a $4500 Eco Credit from BMW for the X5 xDrive35d is more straight-forward. Up until the end of August, $4500 will be applied to the purchase of any diesel X5, helping to cut the starting MSRP from $52,025 to $47,525. In addition to the Eco Credit, an $1800 tax credit will be available for buyers come tax season. As this BMW carries a starting price in excess of $50,000, it is ineligible for a CARS credit. The diesel X5 achieves an impressive 19 city/26 highway (22 combined).

Potential starting prices for X3 (based off MSRP):

  • Manual: $36,025-$37,025
  • Automatic: $37,350-$38,350

Would these prices be attractive enough to get behind the wheel of a brand-new X3?

Source: BMW