Want a small upscale SUV that does it all? The BMW X3 emphasizes driving fun and melds luxury car attributes with the traditional utility of an SUV. Athletic handling and eager power make the X3 enjoyable to drive. Cabin finish is impeccable and passengers benefit from supportive seats and a hushed interior. All of these attributes help the X3 rank among the top-rated vehicles in the compact luxury SUV class.
Part of what makes the X3 experience feel premium is a comfortable, steady ride and a quiet cabin. The standard run-flat tires tend to be a bit stiff however, this is especially noticeable in bumpy, urban environments. Although the controls can take a steep learning curve to master, they eventually prove logical with the ability to perform many functions through either the center controller or steering-wheel mounted buttons. Versions with the cold-weather package come with handy heated front and rear seats as well as a heated steering wheel. The large oversized sunroof brightens up the cabin.
When it's time to do work -- rather than just looking good -- the X3 offers a roomy rear seat, although the cushion is a bit low for adult thigh support. Carrying gear around is made easy by 33 cubic feet of cargo capacity with the rear seat folded and a standard power rear gate. Too bad the relatively small rear window hurts rear and side visibility. A rear camera is a must, but it's not standard, even at the X3's lofty base price. Likewise, other desirable options also require shelling out more cash.