It's comprehensive exterior recasting imparts a new level of visual presence to the 2011 BMW X3, starting with a bolder and more angular front end treatment that adds even more distinction to the familiar BMW cues. Prominent fender arches and more expressive side sculpting nicely set off its slightly taller (0.5-inch) roofline and an equal amount of ground clearance, while the X3's redrawn rear fascia and large single-piece hatch are now flanked by new taillamps that incorporate a horizontal LED light strip that adds more after-dark interest to the appearance. Beyond that, the X3's mini growth spurt adds 3.36 inches to its overall length, 1.1 inches to its width and nets a 0.6-inch wheelbase stretch.
The power to please even more
The 2011 BMW X3 will offer the choice of two powertrain combinations. The entry level X3 xDrive28i will be fitted with a 3.0-liter naturally aspirated inline six that makes 240 horsepower and 230 lb-ft of peak torque while the top-line X3 xDrive35i gets a 3.0-liter twin-scroll single-turbo six that develops 300 horses and 300 lb-ft of twist. Both engines will be backed by BMW's slick eight-speed automatic transmission. While no larger or heavier than the six-speed unit found in the current X3, this new dual-clutch design helps both versions of the new X3 deliver superior acceleration, with 0-60 mph taking just 6.7 seconds in the xDrive 28i and 5.5 ticks in the xDrive35i. BMW claims the new X3s also will earn class-leading fuel economy ratings and emissions stats, although it has yet to release any official figures.
Always one of its strong suits, BMW has moved to decisively up the handling ante on the 2011 X3 by matching a totally redesigned suspension with an improved third-generation of its electronically controlled xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive that features a new Integrated Chassis Management system. We're told to expect even quicker and more precise responses from the 2011-spec hardware/software, which can be futher enhanced by the available Electronic Damping Control and Driving Dynamics Control systems.
Inside, this compact luxo crossover still seats five, but now with even more comfort and charm. The well-appointed, driver-centric environment complements its upgraded materials and tasteful cosmetic touches with additional head and legroom while the capacity of the X3's expanded luggage compartment can be bumped from 19.0 to a class-leading 56.5 cu by flat-folding its standard 60/40 rear seatback. One of the key additions to the 2011 BMW X3 option roster is a new navigation package that pairs a biggest-in-class 8.8-inch high-resolution trans-reflective screen with the fourth generation of BMW's iDrive integrated controller.
On sale in December, the 2011 BMW X3 xDrive28i opens at $37,625 and carries EPA city/highway fuel economy ratings of 19/25 mpg. The 2011 BMW X3 xDrive35i starts at $41,925 and gets 19/26 mpg marks from the EPA.