BMW's X3 compact luxury SUV handles like a sports sedan. For 2006, the engine choices were reduced to one: a 3.0-liter engine. Body-color front and rear bumpers along with some minor exterior trim enhancements were added.
A 225-hp, 3.0-liter inline six sends power through a standard six-speed manual transmission or a no-charge optional five-speed automatic. Reviewers prefer the Steptronic automatic with its manual shifting mode for all-around ease of operation. BMW gives a 0-60 time of 7.6 seconds with the manual and 7.9 with the automatic. Consumer Guide managed an average of 17.7 mpg with the Steptronic.
The xDrive all-wheel-drive system with Dynamic Stability Control is standard and receives rave reviews, with testers calling it one of the best all-weather traction systems. xDrive is so flexible that it can deliver 100% of the available torque to one wheel. Not only does it provide traction in adverse weather conditions, but it will also step in when the driver has been "overenthusiastic" in the twisties. Brakes are BMW class: firm, solid, and sure, making for linear, smooth stops. Add to this the optional Servotronic speed-sensitive steering, and you never need to consider a sport sedan for driving enjoyment.
According to reviewers, however, the materials in the well-laid-out interior are not up to BMW's luxury standard. BMW counters by saying the X3 is appropriately equipped for rugged everyday use. The interior is comfortable, roomy, and well designed. Consumer Guide commented that for cargo space the X3 provides "compact station wagon floor space, but SUV height."
Standard safety features abound: xDrive, Dynamic Stability Control, ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution, Brake Assist, and the full lineup of airbags.
The X3 continues to be a BMW top seller for those seeking SUV features with sport-sedan handling.