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2010 BMW X3 Overview

In its final year before a full redesign, the 2010 BMW X3 will see no changes. Both the X5 and the X3 have been marketed by BMW as Sport Activity Vehicles (SAV), an alternative to traditional SUVs. They offer the ground clearance, cargo space, and off-road capability of a truck with the handling and comfort of a car in what could be considered a precursor to the crossover – if the station wagon didn’t already hold that mantle quite well. The single xDrive30i trim offers a 260-hp, 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine, AWD stability, and the option of a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.

In addition to 260 hp, the 3.0-liter engine offers 225 lb-ft of torque at 2,750 rpm, which translates into 0-60 times of less than 8 seconds and a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. There have been complaints about the choppy automatic transmission and an erratic and non-linear throttle response, but the manual has received no such negative reaction, with smooth and tight operation. Regardless, the EPA expects 17/24 mpg with either transmission with the required premium-grade gasoline.

Handling is what we’ve come to expect from BMW, with the standard suspension absorbing imperfections with little drama while still combating lean and roll without sacrificing comfort. A tight turning radius makes parking-lot maneuvers easier, although heavy steering at low speeds almost negates this benefit. Strong brakes with good pedal feel are a welcome plus. The Sport Package’s firmer suspension does reverberate off rough road, a trade-off for its increased performance, but this can be partially attributed to the larger 18-inch wheels as well.

That Sport Package will also get you a sport steering wheel, sport seats, and special trim and cladding. A Premium Package offers leather upholstery, a power sunroof, the BMW Assist system, Bluetooth, and various interior features like an automatic rearview and outside mirrors, compass, garage-door opener, and additional interior lights. Controls and gauges, including the optional navigation system, have received multiple complaints about both placement and complexity, and the interior materials have been noted by more than one reviewer as inadequate given the X3’s price.

Rear cargo area is an impressive 71 cubic feet, with a low deck and high roof that enable easy loading, and while rear seats fold without the need to flip the seat cushions forward or remove the headrests, they don’t fold flat, sacrificing additional space. Seats front and back lack the comfort for longer trips, and the firmer seats that come with the Sport Package only worsen the issue.

A long list of safety features includes dual front, front-side, and tubular side head-protecting airbags, as well as standard four-wheel antilock disc brakes, brake assist and anti-skid systems, hill descent control, and BMW’s Dynamic Stability and Traction Control systems.

The X3 was slated for a redesign this year, but this has been pushed off until 2011. While a strong performer in terms of its engine, suspension, and manual transmission, the poor throttle response and lack of composure in the automatic are serious black marks on its report card. Couple those with interior materials that leave many feeling ripped off and uncomfortable seating, and it’s probably best to wait and see what the X3 will offer in 2011.


A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.

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2010 BMW X3 Top Comparisons

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BMW X3 Questions

What Part Is This? Is It Normal To Be Super Hot?

Hi! I need help. My bmw x3 2010 has been struggling in his hydraulic system (stearing wheel). It has been turn off for hours now but this gray part is still really hot. What part is it? Is it no...

Coolent Sign Come On And Off

Do I Need To Replace Volve Cover Gasket If Engine Oil Is A Bit Leaking

When bmw dealer fixed my 2010 BMW X3 engine misfire problem, I was told that the car had engine oil leak and need to replace valve cover gasket and transmission pan gasket. The cost was estimated mo...