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The BMW X3 originated the compact luxury SUV segment and is one of the few that actually feels sporty. Handling is agile, making the X3 enjoyable to drive. Helped by a new eight-speed automatic transmission, the powertrain is eager and willing. Fuel economy is also respectable, given the X3's size and power.
Alerts
There are 2 recalls on this vehicle. Learn More.

Road Test Results

Performance
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
Fuel Economy Fuel Economy We perform our own fuel-economy tests, independent of the government's often-quoted EPA figures and the manufacturers' claims. Using a precise fuel-flow measuring device spliced into the fuel line, we run two separate circuits to represent city and highway consumption.
CR's Overall Mileage CR's Overall Mileage CR's overall mileage is a composite of measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course and highway cruising; and CR's 150-mile test trip of mixed driving, if tested. In recent road tests, we've discontinued the 150-mile trip test.
CR's City Mileage CR's City Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course.
CR's Highway Mileage CR's Highway Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed highway cruising.
Annual Fuel Cost Annual Fuel Cost The cost and amount of fuel used in 12,000 miles and is calculated from CR's overall mileage.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit,
Comfort / Convenience
Ride Ride Our expert judgment of how well the suspension isolates and absorbs road imperfections and how steady it keeps the body on various road surfaces.
Noise Noise Our expert judgment of the vehicle's interior noise level in everyday driving.
Front Seat Comfort Front Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the front seat is for drivers of various heights.
Rear Seat Comfort Rear Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the rear seat is for two passengers to sit across.
Interior Fit and Finish Interior Fit and Finish An expert evaluation of the interior quality and craftsmanship.
Trunk/Cargo Area Trunk/Cargo Area Our rating is based on the amount of luggage or cargo space that a vehicle has in the trunk or cargo area.

Owner Reports

Worse Better
Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
NA
2005
NA
2006
NA
2007
NA
2008
NA
2009
NA
2010
NA
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
Owner Satisfaction Owner Satisfaction To learn about satisfaction, CR has collected survey data from our annual survey on more than half a million vehicles. Our subscribers provide great insights into their satisfaction by answering one simple question: If they had it to do all over again, would they definitely buy or lease the same model? In addition, respondents also rate their cars in six categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio, and climate systems. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
NA
2005
NA
2006
2007
2008
2009
NA
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
Driving Experience Driving Experience Includes acceleration and handling
Comfort Comfort Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride
Value Value Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?
Styling Styling How it looks inside and out
Safety Equipment
ABS and ESC standard. Front side and head protection air bags standard; rear side available.
Road Test

The BMW X3 originated the compact luxury SUV segment and is one of the few that actually feels sporty. Handling is agile, making the X3 enjoyable to drive. Helped by a new eight-speed automatic transmission, the powertrain is eager and willing. Fuel economy is also respectable, given the X3's size and power. Along with a more compliant suspension than the old model, this edition of the X3 got a good dose of lavishness thrown in too. Still, like other BMWs, the controls are more complicated than they need to be.

Seating
2 front, 3 rear
Drive Wheels
AWD
Warranty

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. The dealership can tell you exactly how much warranty is left.

Read more about extended warranties
Body Styles
4-door SUV
Transmissions Available
  • 8-speed Automatic
Engines Available
  • 3-liter 6 turbo (300 hp)
  • 3-liter 6 (240 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2012 BMW X3 owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

What Owners Say

“Expansion tank had slow leak”

Anonymous, MD (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)
Radiator

“The radiator got broken when the car had less than 2 years, with 20,000 miles, and the manufacturer did not want to fix it. I had to make a claim to my insurance because dealer claimed it was a small rock which cause the problem. For a car with so”

Felicia L., TX (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i Unsure)
Water pump

“Water pump failed. Needed replacement at 60,000 miles”

Clement F., WI (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

“It is very difficult to find aftermarket parts for BMW”

R K., ON (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

“The electric water pump failed, resulting in the vehicle going into limp mode to prevent engine damage. I was not told by BMW why it failed other than it was tested and shown to not be working. It was replaced under extended warranty”

Gregory F., TX (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

“Water pumps on the x3 routinely fail before 50000 miles. Apparently a known problem for years. Difficult to access and very exoensive electric pump”

William B., CO (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

“Went out at 60k. When it does out, the car over heats and cannot be driven any further”

Craig R., TX (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

Air or water leaks

“Hatchback does not close fully”

Anonymous, OH (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)
Seals and/or weather-stripping

“Moonroof sealing makes a lot of noise”

Anonymous, IL (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)
Squeaks or rattles

“Rattle in dashboard”

Anonymous, OH (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

“Trunk rattled until they replaced the entire unit”

Anonymous, IL (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)
Wind noise

“Driver side window was poorly installed. Had to have it replaced”

Christopher D., NY (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

“The car can be noisy when driving in wind. Even with the windows rolled up securely, the noise can be loud”

Anonymous, CA (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

Headlights

“Had to replace headlight control module - covered under warranty”

Anonymous, OH (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

“Headlights are xenon and are ridiculously expensive. The first one cost $600 to diagnose and repair. I asked about replacing both at that time but they said it wasn't necessary as they hardly ever fail. 3 months later the other one went for another $600”

R K., ON (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

“Headlight unit failed due to a leak in a seal. Incredibly it cost about $2500 to replace. If the car would have passed inspection I would have sold the car due to the cost of the headlight”

Paul S., NY (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)
Exterior lights (other than headlights)

“2 break lights burned out”

Anonymous, CA (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

“Overall electronics system malfunctioned due to a bad tire pressure monitor. Affected radio, dash, etc”

Anonymous, PA (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

What Owners Say

Engine knock or ping

“running rough, RPM revved when stopped sometimes,”

Anonymous, FL (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

“Oil filter housing leaked oil into the eccentric shaft sensor, causing it to fail. This resulted in limited drivetrain output warnings, lack of power, rough start, and misfiring. Dealer replaced the eccentric shaft sensor, ignition coils, oil filter housing gasket and head gasket. Covered under CPO warranty, would have cost over $5k at the dealer out of warranty”

Christopher G., WA (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

“Recently had an issue with a broken oil filter housing seal that caused an oil leak. Mechanic said it was not uncommon with this vehicle”

Eric M., KY (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

“Oil leak where oil filter housing is attached to the engine”

Anonymous, CA (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

What Owners Say

Coil

“One coil failed. Two other coils had cracks”

Anonymous, MD (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

“Failed had to be replaced”

Rafael B., MA (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

“failed ignition coil”

Anonymous, CA (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)
Spark plugs or wires failure

“engine would hesitate due to spark plug coils needing replacement”

Janis K., FL (2012 BMW X3 Unsure 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Alignment

“The alignment was off because a bent knuckle the wheel is mounted on. I don't remember hitting anything that big in the road”

Grover M., IN (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)
Tire wear is uneven

“The tire wear is from the bent knuckle, I guess. But I have already replaced one full set of tires”

Grover M., IN (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

“rear alignment off”

Anonymous, AZ (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)
Power steering pumps and hoses

“It is ELECTRIC steering, not pump driven. It sticks, making small necessary correctons very difficult difficult”

Craig R., TX (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

What Owners Say

Condenser

“Two years ago had to recharge system; last year replaced condenser”

Anonymous, KS (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

“The a/c was not cooling. The condenser was leaking and has to be replaced”

John L., OH (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)
Evaporator

“Failed. Not cooling”

Anonymous, AZ (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)
Refrigerant leaks

“Took five visits, and finally an ultimatum, to get dealer to check issue (kept saying the loud whine was "normal"). Partial repair under warranty”

David T., TN (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

What Owners Say

Display screen goes blank

“I Drive display module had to be replaced. System blinked on and off after about 60k miles. Seems like a common issue. Cost of repair seems to vary betw $400-1200”

Christopher D., NY (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)
External music device interface (e.g., smart phone, MP3 player)

“Had to buy new iPod to interface with car but it still is flakey. Cannot connect reliably. Using both wired and bluetooth--which ever is working at the time. Very annoying”

John E., MA (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)
In-dash navigation system (GPS)

“Not as reliable as my $110 Garmin or my wife's smart phone. Sometimes makes major mistakes in selecting routes. Once wanted to take me over a hundred miles or more before turning in right direction. All the more frustrating as it was the reversal”

Anonymous, NY (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)
Phone pairing (e.g., Bluetooth)

“Would not pair or would lose pairing”

Anonymous, FL (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

What Owners Say

Engine rebuild or replacement

“small oil spot on floor of garage near the front of BMW. When it was taken to the dealership for inspection - they found it had a crack in the engine block, This was where the oil pan bolted to the bottom of of the engine. It was still under warranty”

Anonymous, IL (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)
Cylinder head

“The plastic pipe that supplies air to the throttle body, what BMW calls the left charge pipe, broke due to fatigue/age and a piece of the pipe entered the engine and got stuck in a intake valve resulting in valve and camshaft damage. BMW ended up replacing the entire engine cylinder head/valve train. It was covered under extended warranty”

Gregory F., TX (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i 3.0-L 6 Cyl turbo)

“Replacing the entire Valve cover (expensive $$) instead of a cheap part, since everything is integral and not repairable”

Esteban T., VA (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

What Owners Say

Mirrors

“Interior mirror control sticks occasionally when adjusting the mirror. I need to manually push the button in the opposite direction to stop movement of the mirror”

SUSn J., OR (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)
Seat belts

“"Not buckled" warning goes off regarding passenger seat, even when no one is in the passenger seat. Can be triggered by small, lightweight item such as cellphone. The dealer has tried to fix it twice, but it still happens once or twice a week”

Anonymous, CA (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

“Tailgate manual release latch was replaced”

Jerome G., AZ (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

What Owners Say

Electrical failure

“Accelerator position sensor failed - probably from road salt carried into the car on the bottom of my my shoes”

Anonymous, MA (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

“Power train malfunction, repaired by BMV without cost”

Anonymous, CT (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling)

“Paint is discoloring in small pimple-sized areas and appears to be happening below the surface of the clearcoat”

SUSn J., OR (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

“Small amount of paint peeled from the front bumper when I was washing the car”

Frank S., WI (2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i Unsure)

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

What Owners Say

Sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor)

“Sensor had to be replaced. Dealer had the vehicle 6 days”

Anonymous, MI (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

What Owners Say

Premature brake wear

“left rear brake only wore out after 20,000. Replaced by BMW no charge”

Anonymous, WA (2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

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