2022 BMW X3 Test Drive Review
The refreshed 2022 BMW X3 is even more of a good thing.
Since its inception in 2003, the BMW X3 has grown to become one of the brand’s top sellers. And starting with its second generation (circa 2010), the luxury compact crossover has been built at BMW Spartanburg—the automaker’s only United States manufacturing facility. Incidentally, because Spartanburg is the global producer of every gas-powered BMW crossover besides the X1 and X2, the plant also boasts the highest production numbers of any BMW plant worldwide. One can speculate that the popular X3 has a lot to do with that.
Last redesigned for 2018, the X3 receives a rather hefty mid-cycle refresh for 2022. Although the xDrive30e plug-in hybrid has been dropped from the lineup, updates to the remaining models include design tweaks, new engines, more technology, and an expanded suite of safety features.
Look and Feel
With one less model, the 2022 BMW X3 is available in four variants: sDrive30i, xDrive30i, M40i, and M. The X3 sDrive30i is the only rear-wheel-drive (RWD) model; all other X3s are all-wheel-drive (AWD) only.
For 2022, the X3 sees a revised exterior design that presents a more aggressive stance but ever so slightly. Yes, the distinctive kidney grille is larger but it’s not the gaping maw (not yet, anyway) that has become other BMWs' new signature. You likely have to wait until the next redesign for that one. But if you like toothy grins, a black sensor bar is now positioned between the grilles for an adorable gap-toothed smile.
The headlights, which are now adaptive full LEDs, are 0.4 inch slimmer and accommodate new vertical air intakes along with a redesigned front bumper. In the rear, the taillights are all new featuring a black surround and pincer claw-shaped brake light LEDs which “hold” the integrated turn signal bars. Crab hands seem to be the new trend for taillights as they appear on even non-luxury cars like the Honda Civic. Welcome to the future: a nighttime sea of LED crustaceans.
Finishing the updated rear are larger redesigned exhaust tips and a new bumper that further complements the horizontal-styled exterior lighting. Other exterior changes include an M Sport Package for sDrive30i and xDrive30i models, a specialized aero wheel, and new paints. The 2022 BMW X3 is available in nine finishes. Glacier Silver and Sunstone are gone but make way for two new metallic colors: Brooklyn Grey and Tanzanite Blue II.
Nineteen-inch gray aluminum-alloy wheels are standard and matched with all-season run-flat tires. New for the X3 sDrive30i and X3 xDrive30i models is an aerodynamically-optimized 19-inch wheel. Black in color, this new wheel features a unique plastic insert that improves airflow for better fuel economy and offers a 15-percent weight compared to the standard aluminum wheel.
Those seeking performance of the M variety for their X3 sDrive30i and xDrive30i model can add the M Sport Package. This adds larger front air intakes, a sportier rear bumper, a substantial rear diffuser, and two more side air-curtain panels—in dark and high-gloss black finishes. If that’s not enough menace for your compact crossover, the Shadowline Package gives window frames, roof rails, the grille frame, grille inserts, and new-for-2022 headlight inserts the black-out treatment. Standard with the M Sport Package is 19-inch Midnight Grey Bicolor light alloys with optional 20- and 21-inch wheels available along with M Sport brakes featuring either blue or red calipers.
Moving up to the X3 M40i adds more M, of course, and it’s identified as such with a BMW M grille that features high-gloss black double-bar grille inserts with an affixed M logo. The M exterior mirrors, also in high-gloss black, differentiate themselves from the standard versions thanks to an aerodynamic opening. M-designed light-alloy wheels are standard with available 20- and 21-inch designs.
And those are just the exterior updates.
The cabin of the 2022 X3 presents a clean and efficient design. Although not a runway fashionista like the rival Genesis GV70 or Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, the X3 is still handsome in a tailored suit kind of way. The well-appointed interior features dark oak wood trim, an anthracite headliner, eight-way power-adjustable front Sport seats, adjustable side bolsters, reclinable rear seatbacks, tri-zone automatic climate control, and new perforated SensaTec synthetic leather upholstery. X3 sDrive30i models and up can be optioned with premium Vernasca leather. A panoramic moonroof is standard on the X3 M40i but is also available for sDrive30i and xDrive30i models.
X3 interior color choices differ by material and model. The standard SensaTec seating can be optioned in black, Canberra beige, cognac, or Tacora red. Upgrading to genuine leather gives you black, oyster, and mocha as options.
There’s also ambient lighting that offers 11 color combos to essentially hit you from every direction—from the door panels to the instrument panel to the dashboard trim. Brightness, including a night mode, can be adjusted to minimize the nightclub feel. If you can’t get comfortable while in an X3, perhaps the ambiance can put you to sleep so you don’t have to think about it. Unless you’re driving. In that case, go full send with the rave lights.
All 2022 X3 models feature an eight-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddles shifters as standard. For the X3 sDrive30i and X3 xDrive30i, power comes in the form of a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Output is 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Zero-to-60 mph is timed at 6 seconds for both RWD and AWD models, BMW says.
Fuel economy for the 2022 X3 sDrive30i is an EPA-rated 23 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined. Notably, this represents a drop of 2 mpg for both city and combined mpg numbers compared to the previous model year, even though the engine is a carryover. The AWD xDrive30i version offers a mileage return of 21 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined—also less than the previous year.
The 2021 X3 xDrive30i returned 23 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined. Why? It's likely that the new-for-2022 features added a few pounds.
That being said, the X3 sDrive30i and xDrive30i sit comfortably with like-minded luxury crossovers in terms of fuel economy. The turbo-four versions of the Genesis GV70, Jaguar F-Pace, and Mercedes-Benz GLC, for example, offer similar figures while the Porsche Macan is toward the bottom with an EPA-rated 19 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined. But the Macan doesn’t sit on its laurels in terms of dynamics or power with a standard 261 hp.
Performance-wise, the base X3 puts up a good fight. We took an xDrive30i model on a short drive around Palm Springs and the surrounding desert mountain roads. The vehicle proved quick enough to maneuver around freeway traffic, quiet enough to drown out city sounds, and compliant enough to absorb road bumps and bruises. Although we noticed some wind noise, we couldn’t tell if it was the X3 itself or a windy area. Where we was, there weren’t any trees to give us visual cues of gust or dust.
While not underpowered, the standard X3 isn’t the most exciting version. Even the engine note seemed distant. Bear in mind, this is a five-seater family crossover. Let competitors like Porsche focus strongly on performance because BMW is offering more of a complete package.
Besides, base models are just that. The basics. The X3 M40i not only receives a punchier 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine but also a new mild-hybrid system. The M40i produces 382 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque and on the curvy canyon roads, the additional power is noticeable. We wouldn’t necessarily consider the X3 M40i a canyon-carving crossover (we reserve that title for the X3 M), but it's at the very least a definite highway hustler. Its quoted 4.4-second zero-to-60 mph time is not an exaggeration.
Although both feature AWD, on-ramps and winding roads are more exhilarating in the M40i compared to the xDrive30i. The difference in acceleration and braking is evident. Oh, and you can hear the engine a little better, too. Even more so when utilizing the paddle shifters while in Sport or Sport Plus mode. But switch the driving mode to Comfort and the M40i produces a steering and suspension feel that is too soft for off-camber roads.
On the 2022 X3 M40i, additional M flavors are sprinkled in thanks to a flap-controlled sports exhaust system, sport brakes, an adaptive suspension, and an AWD system tuned toward a rear-oriented torque split. Also, Performance Control has been updated to invoke more M-level dynamism. Where the xDrive30i provides a pleasant enough drive, the M40i offers up that extra kick to make driving less of a commute.
As for the mild-hybrid system, we hardly noticed it. It didn’t change the powertrain rating from the previous X3 M40i, neither negative nor positive. Mild, indeed. According to BMW, the system features a 48-volt start/generator plus a battery to make start/stop operation smoother and will shut the engine off when the vehicle coasts to a stop. Additionally, the mild-hybrid system can offer up another 11 hp off the line and during “intermediate sprints.” We can only assume the latter refers to passing.
Still, the new mild-hybrid system, which is only available on six-cylinder models (i.e., only the M40i), doesn’t actually improve fuel economy, a facet that X3 owners generally list as a consistent disappointment.
The 2022 X3 M40i is EPA-rated at 21 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined. Last year, without the mild hybrid, the X3 M40i achieved 27 mpg highway. So, with a new fuel-savings system in place, the 2022 model gets worse mileage on the highway and sees no benefit in the city. Eh? “Because emissions” is the likely answer. The X3 is a global vehicle after all, and emissions standards become stricter with each passing year, especially in Europe.
Form and Function
Performance squabbles aside, the BMW X3 does deliver on comfort and practicality. With seating for five and storage space for their bags, the X3 is rather roomy for a compact crossover. And, yes, that’s five adults—as long as the “adult” sitting in the rear middle seat is child-size like our 5’2” test driver. Nevertheless, ensconced in what amounts to a booster seat and with the front seats pushed mostly back, there was still a reasonable amount of legroom for us and two male seat mates of average height and build. If we complained about anything it might’ve been that the front seat occupants (cough driver) occasionally forgot there were rear passengers.
Those rear seats feature a standard 40/20/40-split. When up, there was enough cargo room for all of our backpacks plus film and photography equipment—and then some. Had we each brought an additional carry-on suitcase, the X3 looked cavernous enough to accommodate those, too. A power tailgate is also standard with an optional hands-free opening available for added convenience.
The SensaTec faux-leather seats are comfortable but the upgraded Vernasca does add more in terms of softness and pliability. As much as the X3 offers a multitude of adjustability for every occupant, our one gripe was with the thigh-support cushion. Well, its control handle to be exact.
On both the xDrive30i and M40i, the bottom seat cushion can be extended, something taller drivers will appreciate. The X3's sport seats were supportive enough that we had no use for it. However, while driving the xDrive30i, the extension handle protruded like a swollen lip that a driver's leg can rub up against when going for the brake pedal. Granted, it's likely not an issue for most people but to non-slouching petites, test drive recommended.
Overall, vehicle ergonomics have improved with easier accessibility to frequent touchpoints. The X3’s redesigned center console now closely resembles that of newer BMW models, particularly the 4 Series. The standard infotainment system is now larger, measuring 10.25 inches, with an optional 12.3-inch touchscreen available.
Push-button and rocker-style controls for climate and heated seat functions are now positioned directly below the center air vents followed by the audio controls. The lower area that encompasses the gear selector, BMW iDrive controller knob, and driving function buttons has been redone as well to mimic the 3 Series’ layout. The matte finish of the buttons maintains a smudge-free appearance versus the previous gloss black while the new outer material of the rotary dial offers a non-slip grip.
Depending on who you ask, BMW’s in-car technology is either innovative or infuriating. But we like dancing with the devil so we say it’s both. Everyone seemingly hated the iDrive rotary controller when it debuted 20 years ago, but now you find similar tech in everything from Acura to Volvo. What’s that saying about following the leader?
BMW Live Cockpit Plus with iDrive 7 telematics is standard on the 2022 X3 and features a 5.1-inch color display instrument panel and 10.25-inch infotainment screen. Included are navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, Amazon Alexa integration, two USB ports, a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, and a slew of connected digital features such as the in-car personal assistant, music apps, over-the-air updates, real-time traffic, roadside assistance, and emergency services, among others.
Completely customizable, the X3 wants to be your ultimate multimedia machine. An optional Live Cockpit Professional enlarges both screens to 12.3 inches as well as provides a fully-digital experience throughout. The maps are also updated to cloud-based navigation for improved accuracy and functionality. Redundancies are in place that you can manage many in-car functions via the steering wheel-mounted controls, voice activation, or iDrive controller.
A 12-speaker 205-watt HiFi sound system is standard on the X3. M40i models can be optioned with a Harman Kardon surround sound system that produces 600 watts and features 16 speakers. Other tech options include a Convenience Package for sDrive30i and xDrive30i models, which adds comfort access keyless entry (and that hands-free tailgate operation), a panoramic sunroof, and lumbar support. These features are standard on the X3 M40i trim. A Premium Package is available for all X3 models and includes the Convenience Package plus a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, a head-up display, and gesture control.
The 2022 BMW X3 has been awarded a five-star crash safety rating—the highest score—from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Crash test results are not yet available from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) but when last tested, the 2018 X3 was named a Top Safety Pick+. According to the IIHS website, these results apply to model years 2018 through 2021. And the 2022 X3 adds even more to its list of safety features and driver-assistance systems.
Along with the previously mentioned adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams, also standard is a rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, active blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear collision avoidance, park distance control with auto braking, forward-collision warning with pedestrian/cyclist detection, and active pre-collision protection systems like seatbelt tensioners, automatic window closures, post-crash braking, and driver attention alerts.
The available Parking Assistance Package for all X3 models adds parking assistance plus, active park distance control, and 360-degree surround camera view. Updated for 2022 is the Driving Assistant Professional Package, which now adds traffic jam assistance and back-up assistant. The optional package also features front cross-traffic alert, a 3D assisted view display within the instrument cluster of the vehicle and its surroundings as well as active lane-keep assist with lane centering and side collision avoidance. Active Driving Assistant is also included and is a radar-based system that combines adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and active lane-keep assist.
Considering the robust revisions done to the 2022 X3, luxury crossover buyers will be pleased to learn its price didn’t attempt a Kilimanjaro ascent. The starting MSRP for the X3 sDrive30i is $43,700, only a $700 year-over-year increase. Opting for the AWD xDrive30i adds another $2,000. The X3 M40i sees a larger increase of $1,200, climbing to starting price of $57,800. The destination fee remains unchanged at $995. Both of our X3 test vehicles were well equipped but not as over the top as they could’ve been.
Our X3 xDrive30i tester did have several options added and totaled $57,590 (including destination). Geared toward an enthusiast with an affinity for turbo-four-powered small crossovers, the vehicle was equipped with the M Sport Package ($4,100), Dynamic Handling Package ($1,400), and Premium Package ($1,850). Other add-ons were genuine leather ($1,450), front and rear heated seats ($350), and BMW Individual 21-inch wheels ($1,550). Its Brooklyn Grey metallic sheen added another $550.
On the other hand, our X3 M40i in Phytonic Blue Metallic ($550) and leather seats ($1,450) added only a handful of things. With the Premium Package ($1,600), heated seats, M Sport Differential ($1,300), and 20-inch M wheels ($600), its final price was $64,290. With more standard features and an engaging driving experience, it’s the winner amongst the two. But how does the X3 fare against a growing field of cutthroat competitors?
Just fine, thank you.
The X3 sDrive30i is $500 more than the Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 and has less power, but it’s quicker. Against the V6-equipped AMG GLC 43, the X3 M40i offers the same performance story but becomes the value-minded option starting at $2,000 less than the AMG-Benz. The comparable Audi SQ5 comes in at $2,300 less than the M40i but offers less power (349 hp) and a slower zero-to-60 mph time (4.7 seconds). The Porsche Macan is a winner in stealing your wallet with the base 2.0-liter turbo-four model starting at $54,900. Undercutting everyone on price is the AWD-only Genesis GV70 which starts at $41,000. In its first-ever model year, however, the segment newcomer has yet to truly prove itself.
The BMW X3 doesn’t have to do much to win over shoppers. Its badge alone represents prestige and performance. Does that make the X3 perfect by default? Don’t be silly. But it is balanced. From steering feel to spaciousness to styling, the 2022 X3 will not disappoint. Okay, maybe on fuel economy. But, guess what? You can dismiss that screen with gesture control.
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