The year 2017 is the end of an era. Correction: It’s the end of a generation. This is the last year of the F25 version of the BMW X3.
It may be hard to believe, but it’s been nearly 15 years since BMW introduced the world to its follow-up to the X5 Sports Activity Vehicle. The first-generation (aka E83) X3 hit the market as a 2004 model with smaller dimensions and even greater agility than its big brother. By the time BMW stopped making the original X3, the automaker had sold more than 600,000 copies of it around the world.
The current iteration of the X3 arrived in dealerships in time for the 2011 model year. BMW’s designers updated its looks and made it longer, wider, and taller than the model it replaced.
Subsequent facelifts and powertrain updates have led to the 2017 X3. It’s available with turbocharged 4-cylinder power as either the rear-wheel-drive sDrive28i or the all-wheel-drive xDrive28i. A turbo I6 powers the xDrive35i.
Those engines will play the second-generation X3’s swan song. The third-generation (G01) X3 is coming with fresh styling and more modern technology.
BMW gave us a chance to say goodbye to the current X3 by letting us drive a 2017 xDrive28i for a week. We didn’t wave. We didn’t cry. We drove.
2017 BMW X3 xDrive28i Exterior
In BMW parlance, the X3 is a Sports Activity Vehicle. In general terms, it’s a crossover, a vehicle designed to have mass appeal by offering the comfort and approximate fuel economy of a sedan combined with more storage space and a better view of the road from the driver’s seat. That’s exactly what the X3’s exterior has: mass appeal. Its lines are neither too soft nor too angular. Positioned between the smaller X1 and the larger X5, the X3 has dimensions that are right in the middle of the road.
Our test vehicle was coated in a rather low-key shade of paint BMW calls Mineral Silver Metallic. That’s OK. It just made the attractive exterior details all the more noticeable.
The perfectly sized twin kidney grilles connected to the casings for the brilliant Xenon headlights from the optional Lighting Package. In profile, the roofline gently sloped downward, giving the X3 a sporty appearance without making the rear storage space look as if it were an afterthought. The optional xLine bundle’s 19-inch alloys looked as if they were made of giant metal flower petals grown in the distant future. Arrow-shaped tail lights started at the sides of the motion-activated tailgate and wrapped around onto the X3’s rear body panels.
2017 BMW X3 xDrive28i Interior
The xDrive28i isn’t the most powerful X3 there is. The X3 itself isn’t the most expensive SAV BMW makes. That didn’t matter at all to us. Aside from cooled and massaging seats, it was hard for us to want for anything in our press loaner. We had attractive Oyster Nevada Leather, the xLine package’s Fineline Light High Gloss Wood, and a generous amount of options around us.
The Driving Assistance Package gave us peace of mind (more on that later). Thanks to the Premium Package, we enjoyed the convenience of keyless entry and start, the luxury of a panoramic moonroof, and the variety of satellite radio. We appreciated the Technology Package’s easy-to-use navigation system and helpful head-up display. Other niceties included wireless charging, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and ambient lighting.
Wheeling the X3’s just-right dimensions through the suburbs and city streets of Austin, Texas was easy and stress-free. Its suspension kept bumps in the road from becoming pains in the neck. Second-row room was generous. Behind that 40/20/40 split-folding seating area, the rear storage space offered 27.6 cubic feet of capacity. When we folded the back row down, cargo volume expanded to 63.3 cubic feet.
2017 BMW X3 xDrive28i Performance
Don’t let the numbers in the X3 xDrive28i’s name fool you. It doesn’t have a 2.8-liter engine. It’s powered by a 2.0-liter I4. Sure, that’s not a huge power plant, but it makes up for its lack of displacement with an efficient twin-scroll turbocharger, variable valve control, and direct fuel injection. Those combine to help the X3’s four cylinders generate 240 horsepower and 260 lbft of torque. An eight-speed automatic with sport and manual shift modes, and BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive help get the X3’s satisfactory amount of output to the road.
The EPA states that the X3 xDrive28i can get 21 city, 28 highway, and 24 combined miles per gallon.** We averaged something in the neighborhood of 22 because we had a habit of leaving the X3 in sport mode and zipping around whenever we got the chance. The dip in fuel economy didn’t matter once the turbo’s boost kicked in.
An interesting thing happened whenever we turned the X3’s optional sport steering wheel. We, of course, knew we were changing the direction in which the vehicle was traveling, but we could also feel that happening below us, as if the tires’ contact patches were somehow wired to our hands. You could consider us pleasantly surprised. We do.
2017 BMW X3 xDrive28i Safety
Front, front side-impact, and front and rear head-protecting airbags are standard safety equipment on the X3 xDrive28i. The same goes for Dynamic Stability Control with Brake Drying, Brake Stand-by, and Brake Fade Compensation. The X3 BMW loaned us had runflat tires as well as the Driving Assistance Package’s rear view camera and Park Distance Control, which helped keep us from bumping into things…and people.
2017 BMW X3 xDrive28i Overall
As tested, our 2017 BMW X3 xDrive28i media review special would cost $54,395. Prices for the all-wheel-drive 4-cylinder X3 start at $42,050.* If you want to commemorate the end of the second generation of the X3, don’t put on a party hat, blow a noisemaker, or write about it on Facebook. Go to an AutoNation-affiliated BMW dealership and drive one. We won’t blame you if you have some celebratory cake afterward.
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2017 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.