2007 BMW X3
Putting the A in SAV
With a makeover and more power in the engines, the new BMW X3 looks too fresh and clean for playing in mud puddles. But that personality is just a front-BMW's high-achieving Sport Activity Vehicle has loosened up and got over its control issues.
The X3 3.0si is the new name, and with the addition of the 's' comes some new features to make it more attractive. After all, its reputation for sport-sedan agility has stoked some competition in the car-derived crossover segment. BMW's response is not only new as in better, but more dynamic. A larger kidney-shaped grille, new front corner lights, chrome exhaust tips and 17-inch wheels redefine the look, and horizontal lines on the tailgate and along the sides give it a stronger crouching stance.
Inside, a new wood trim on the dash, larger door pockets, and new stitching in the doors are just some of the refinements. It's an all-encompassing
package, with a luxurious interior and a more muscular appearance. New choices in engines and transmissions back up the look with a little more brawn.
Of course, nobody says they bought a BMW to take it off road-you could hit a bump and spill your Starbucks. But should you undertake any zesty enterprises, there's an increase of 35 horsepower and 11 lb-ft of torque in the new-generation straight-six to get you through it. The 3.0si, 2.5si, and 2.0i all come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, with the six-speed Steptronic automatic transmission available as an option.
With such a sophisticated image, though, it's not just about the performance but the driving experience. Flexing its thinking muscles, the xDrive all-wheel drive, DSC Dynamic Stability Control, and engine management are brought together under an enhanced Integrated Chassis Management. Depending on driving conditions, power is redistributed to precisely where it's needed in xDrive and brake pressure is calculated for standby in emergencies. Oversteer is handled. Understeer is thwarted. With the Hill Descent Control (HDC), the car even carries you down a hill at the appropriate measure without your even having to touch the brake.
That's all well and good, but how do you turn it off and have some fun? With the new Dynamic Traction Control, featured for the first time in a BMW X model, you might not have to deactivate it. The new DTC is supposed to increase the amount of time before the car steps in and takes control over the engine and brakes. DTC also allows for higher lateral acceleration, giving the OK to what's deemed a "light and controllable" drift in the turns. It all makes for the 'active' part of this SAV.
Longitudinal front engine, all-wheel drive
3.0-liter in-line six, dohc, four valves per cylinder
Double-joint thrust-rod spring-strut front, Central pivot spindle with trailing arm and double wishbone rear, anti-squat, anti-dive
Single-piston swing-caliper discs
Length x Width x Height (in.): 179.8 x 72.9 x 165.9
Wheelbase: 110 in.
Curb Weight: 4000 lb
Peak Power: 272 bhp @ 6650 rpm
Peak Torque: 232 lb-ft @ 2750 rpm
0-62 mph: 7.2 sec.
Top Speed: 130 mph
Why we love it: Classy, sassy
Why we don't: A little too brassy
The Price Tag: $38,000