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2014 BMW X3 Overview
If you want a sport-utility vehicle that doesn't look like an SUV, drives like a sports sedan, has a luxury-car feel and still has ample cargo space and some off-road abilities, look no further than the 2014 BMW X3.
The X3 was completely redesigned in 2011, and a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine was added last year, so BMW made only minor changes for 2014. Both the navigation and iDrive systems have been upgraded, and some of the packages and option availability have been reworked, such as the Technology Package, which now has Bluetooth with USB and smartphone integration.
If you're shopping for an SUV, even a compact-crossover such as the X3, chances are you want some interior room, and the X3 has it. With all 5 seats comfortably occupied by passengers, there's still 19 cubic feet in the rear storage area. With the rear seats down, there's a generous 56.6 cubic feet available. Those rear seats also come in an available 40/20/40 folding ratio for versatile storage options.
The X3 can play the role of a people or cargo mover, but it surely doesn't move like one. The xDrive28i trim comes with that 2-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder (I4) engine that was introduced last year. It produces 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque and can go from 0 to 60 mph in about 6.5 seconds without much nosedive or squat. And even with all that power, the xDrive28i gets 21 mpg city/28 highway. The xDrive35i model comes with a 3-liter turbocharged I6 that generates 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, accelerates to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds and gets 19/26. Both engines are paired with a smooth 8-speed automatic transmission. The two trims also come with automatic start/stop technology that shuts down the engine when idling for better efficiency in traffic, and both come with standard all-wheel drive, in case you want to leave the traffic for the trail. The AWD splits the power 40 percent to the front and 60 percent to the rear, which is optimal for on-road driving in poor weather, but it can send 100 percent of the power to the rear wheels for off-roading.
That amount of speed and power may cause some anxiety, especially if the back seat is full of children, but the X3 comes with plenty of safety features. All the necessary airbags are present and accounted for, the optional heads-up display projects speedometer and navigation information into the driver's field of vision upon request, and the lane-departure warning system (also optional) uses radar and cameras to warn the driver of dangerous lane changes. There's also Performance Control to help with traction in curves, available Dynamic Damping control to adjust the suspension just the way you like and, of course, antilock brakes.
The X3's cabin is replete with fine, soft-touch materials, pleasing design lines and ample storage spaces for all your smaller items. The standard equipment list for the xDrive28i features a 205-watt, 12-speaker sound system with HD Radio and an auxiliary input, 8-way power front seats, automatic climate control, dynamic cruise control, Bluetooth, rain-sensing wipers and a power tailgate. The xDrive35i adds features like a panoramic moonroof, trailer pre-wiring and xenon headlights, and both trims come with BMW's complimentary maintenance program for 50,000 miles or 4 years.
For all the high-end technology and features, however, you have to pay more, and significantly more in some cases, which is one of the major criticisms of the X3. The Technology Package delivers navigation, the heads-up display, real-time traffic information, the USB and Bluetooth smartphone integration, remote services and BMW apps. The M Sport package gives you more interior-trim options as well as larger wheels and some of the driving stability features. Other features that will cost you a bit more include heated front and rear seats, adaptive lighting, leather seating, a heated steering wheel, the 40/20/40 split rear seats and a 600-watt, 16-speaker sound system.