Has it been half a year already? Does that odometer really show 14,000 plus miles? It's truly hard to believe how much time has passed since I picked up our X3 from the factory in South Carolina. But more importantly, it's hard to believe how great of a daily driver this SUV has been. Aside from a niggling throttle delay issue that we're still investigating, this X3 is the great hidden gem in the BMW lineup.
Before going to South Carolina, my initial expectations were low. I remembered well the first-generation X3 as a poor riding and cynical cash grab; a low-rent 3 Series riding on unsteady stilts. This second generation? Oh, if only we had a Transformation of the Year award. At this halfway point, I'm just as charmed with the X3 as I was when I picked it up. The power from the naturally aspirated 3.0-liter is plenty adequate. I'm never left wanting the 300 hp from the turbo xDrive35i model. It handles decently well for a vehicle of its type, not to mention the tires it's riding on.
What's impressed me most though, are the seats. The fronts are upgraded as part of the Sport Activity Package, and their firm bolstering provides excellent support. Jumping in the X3's cabin immediately after a 10-hour international flight (which I've done a handful of times now) always makes a welcome impression on my lower back. While the backseat lacks the side bolstering, it remains comfortable. More impressive, however, is the supply of legroom. Every passenger who's ridden back there has expressed surprise over how much space is available. The situation is the same with headroom. Even with the surprisingly tall driver seat position, my 5-foot10-inch frame comes far from touching the roof; six-foot plus drivers should have no problem fitting in here.
Associate online editor Karla Sanchez took the X3's reigns while I was out of the country, and came away smitten with the package, especially with the interior. "The panoramic sunroof is amazing. One night while waiting around for some friends at a dinner spot, I opened the sweeping sunroof, reclined the seat, and enjoyed looking at the stars." Sanchez continued, "I absolutely love the wood paneling. I feel as though automakers have a hard time trying to make these accents look nice, and sometimes, it's just one big mess. The X3 has it right. I love the hue; it kind of reminds me of a tiger pattern. But, it was done in a very tasteful way."
What's next? The X3 is nearing a service interval, indicated conveniently by a graphic when the car starts, so a visit to the dealership is in store for next month. And one minor problem: It appears that someone hit a puddle of blue paint, as splatters of deep blue have streaked along the driver's side of the car, covering the lower plastic paneling. Hopefully it won't need to be painted, but only a stop at the nearby body shop will tell.
| Our Car |
| Months/miles in service ||6/16,369 |
| Avg econ/CO2 || 00.0 mpg/0.00 lb/mi |
| Energy cons || 000 kW-hr/100 mi |
| Unresolved problems || Throttle delay |
| Maintenance cost || $0 (oil change, tire rotation, inspection) |
| Normal-wear cost || $0 |