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BMW X3 xDrive28i with four-cylinder engine proves delightful, more fuel efficient

Consumer Reports News: July 24, 2012 10:08 AM

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While the name remains the same, our most recent BMW X3 xDrive28i sports a more fuel efficient, turbocharged four-cylinder engine in place of the previous six-cylinder. Both versions performed well in our tests, earning identical scores.

The X3 has been powered by six-cylinder base engines since its inception in 2004, but BMW opted to go smaller for 2013. It replaced the previous 3.0-liter inline six with a new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Although the turbo four is not as refined as the six, it delivers the same 240 hp and comparable acceleration. Precision handling and a taut ride make the X3 drive like the best sporty sedans.

We ran into a couple minor challenges in buying this latest X3 to pit it against the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, and Cadillac SRX for the September issue. Starting the buying process, we emailed four dealers with our requested model and equipment. The nearest dealer never responded, and the others tried to sell us a six-cylinder model. Of those X3s that proved attainable, most were loaded with expensive, extra packages.

With X3 being built in the United States, we were able to snag a factory-fresh model that was already in transit—a far quicker process than we'd likely face with a German-built vehicle. (Interestingly, despite being assembled in Spartanburg, SC, the X3 sources just 20 percent of its parts content from the United States and Canada.)

Our 2013 X3 came with Deep Sea Blue metallic paint ($550), a cold-weather package ($700), and a Premium package ($3,450), adding a panoramic moonroof, garage-door opener, ambient lighting, and auto-dimming mirrors. The grand total was $44,595, from which we negotiated $750 off.

As our testing revealed, that money bought an upscale SUV that combines a sporty driving experience with a beautifully finished, quiet, and comfortable cabin. Agile handling and spirited performance make it fun to drive, and it did gain one mpg overall.

The updated X3 is indeed a strong performer, but there are tough competitors in this well-heeled class worth considering. See our complete BMW X3 road test.

Jeff Bartlett

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