BMW X3 redefines SUVs, as SAVs.

A strange statement to be sure but it means X3 is not defined by unneeded off-road credentials. Once we understand that all becomes clear. Very few SUV-like vehicles will ever see a dirt road let-alone rocky mountainside.

SAVs, or Sports Activity Vehicles, are intended to be for the week-end the posh active crew rather than cranky campers and muddy off-roading fanatics.


BMW kept the X3 lineup simple. 4 engines define 2 equipment levels with only an eagle-eye able to pick the difference. The badge is the key.

“30i” used to mean 3 litre straight six with fuel injection. Now, you have to look carefully at the brochure or webpage to be sure. There are 4 models: 20i, 20d, 30i, and 30d. The latter is the only 6-cylinder in the range. You can even leave the badge off if you want admirers to think you paid more.

Think of the X range as the higher-set wagon version of the low-slung road going sedans. Traditional wagons are so last decade. That is a great shame given the wagons drive exactly like their booted sisters.

X3 shares DNA with the 3 series cars.

The look is restrained to the point of a chicken dinner sans gravy. BMW could have done much more without going the full Bangle. We never want to see those hideous jarring lines again. In trying to appeal to as wide a market as possible, the look has been tamed too far.

BMW circular “angel eye” DTRLs have morphed into a more mature double-4-sided array. A larger kidney grille and BMW r