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2020 BMW X3 Review: What You Should Know About Price, Performance and the Plug-in Hybrid

ELANA SCHERR: Even if you don’t consider yourself a car person, you know what a BMW is. And you probably associate the brand with the build quality of a luxury car and the driving experience of a performance car. And maybe with the last person who cut you off in traffic, but that is between you and them. We’re not here about that. We’re here because I’m driving the latest addition to the X3 lineup, the BMW X3 xDrive30e plug-in hybrid. That’s a mouthful for a little SUV. Does it deserve this long name? How does it fit in with the rest of the X3 lineup? Is the X3 in general is fun and glamorous as a BMW should be? Let’s find out. The X3 was last redesigned in 2018, and remains mostly unchanged for 2020. It’s available as a rear wheel drive four cylinder, an all wheel drive four cylinder, an all wheel drive six cylinder, and now is a plug-in hybrid, combining the two liter four cylinder engine with an electric motor. Both price and performance wise, the new hybrid slots in between the xDrive30i and the M40i. All right, we all on the same page here? Can I stop with actual facts and trying to remember BMW’s complicated model names? Because that stuff is hard, and I don’t like doing things that are hard. I want to talk about the experience, of this car starting with what it looks like. Would you be pleased to open your garage door and see the staring back at you? I think it’s kind of got a good thing going. BMW’s kidney grills have been growing on the cars. But they remain a manageable size on the SUV. And I think that this front angle is the most distinctively BMW on the X3. If you took all the badging off, I’m not sure you would know from the side or the back that this was a BMW and not a Ford Edge. It’s not quite as distinctive looking as, say, the Porsche Macan. I guess it looks like a smaller X5, if you know what an X5 looks like. But hey, that’s what the badging is for. This is clearly a BMW. Let’s go see how it drives. We don’t have time to get deep into the cult of BMW. But there is a reason why it has a reputation for being a driver’s car. And that’s what his BMW has always focused on three of the elements that make driving really fun for someone who likes driving. One, obviously, is handling. How does a car go down the road? And another is comfort. I mean, if is going to be a luxury car, if is going to be a high end, brand you shouldn’t be uncomfortable in it. And the third, which BMW has always been so good at, is. Communication the car talks to you. I mean, not literally. Although in these modern cars, it does that, too. But with the feedback in the pedals, with the feedback from the tires, with the feedback in the steering. And I would say that the X3 manages to out of the three. It handles really nice. It’s a fun car to drive on mountain roads. And it is very comfortable. The seats are comfortable. The space in the cabin is comfortable. And it’s easy to use everything around you. The only place where I don’t love BMW is in the steering. Right now, I have it in the sport mode. And the steering is fairly weighted. It doesn’t give me a whole lot of feedback. But it’s not bad. I don’t mind the way that it feels. It’s just not fun. But if I put it in the comfort mode, it’s like so light, like a toy car. And it feels really weird, driving at slow speeds, like around parking lots and stuff. I just– I don’t like the way it feels. It’s not that the car doesn’t go where you turn the wheel. It just doesn’t feel good while you do it. So sport mode it is. You can hear that sport mode gives you a little more engine sound. And it also makes the throttle more responsive. There are so many modes in the X3. You’re really going to have to spend some time with your owner’s manual. Because there’s sport, comfort, eco, pro, adaptive, and e-drive. And then within each of those modes, there are additional options that you can choose. And you can set them up to be your default. You can individualize them. It’s actually very cool. But it isn’t something that you should figure out while you’re driving the car. So spend some time in your driveway. Read the owner’s manual, and you will have a much better time in your X3. We’re driving the hybrid, which is the four cylinder with an electric motor. And it is quite zippy. It’s not exactly what I would call performance car fast. But that’s what the M is for. The Edmunds test team has driven several of the other models. And we don’t have a complaint about any of the engines. They’re all good. It just depends on what you’re looking for. And they’re all backed for the same speed automatic transmission. So there’s not a whole lot of choice to be had there, which is OK. Because it’s a really the transmission. At idle, it’s so quiet, you’re going to want to check to make sure the engine’s even running. And of course, if you’re in the hybrid, sometimes it isn’t. That’s the whole point. When you’re driving, there is a little bit of wind noise. And when you’re on the throttle and the gas engine is kind of revved up, it does make a noticeable grumble. But it’s not unpleasant. Hybrid and electric cars have to make a pedestrian warning sound, a kind of hum or whir. And in some of the cars that I’ve been in, that sound has been so loud inside the car that it kind of gets in your head and melts your brain, and makes you go crazy and commit murders. And this car does not do that. I can not even hear the pedestrian warning sound from inside the car, which is excellent. Hopefully, the pedestrians can hear it outside. For the most part, the layout is pretty straightforward in the cockpit. But there are a lot of buttons and a lot of displays. It’s a little busy in the gauge cluster. It’s a little busy on the touch screen. And there are a lot of different options to get to the same places. So you’re going to want to spend some time in the driveway before you really get going in this car. Otherwise, you’re going to be frantically waiting for a stop sign so you can figure out how to turn off the speed warnings– several clicks in on the menu. Big doors mean big door openings. So it is easy to get in and out of the X3. Once you’re inside, there is plenty of room for driver and passenger. You guys won’t be touching, even though it’s a small SUV. That’s good. No touching these days. There is plenty of headroom. I have the seat pretty high up. You know I’m short. I’m like 5-3, if you’ve ever wondered. Yeah, I have a seat way up. And I could be really tall. And the seat goes way far down. So, no problem. Let’s talk about small parts storage. Small storage space is so good. There are huge door pockets. I mean, you could fit several water bottles, even the reusable kind. There’s this little roll-up cover here, and you can fit a cell phone. That’s where the USB port is, cup holders. And then there is another console here which isn’t great. It has a USB-C port, and a little light, which is nice. But it’s not super deep. You cannot fit a purse in it. I’m a little disappointed by that. Great news for pretty much all of you, except for my husband, who still uses a flip phone. X3 has wireless Apple CarPlay, which is very cool. And even better news is that Apple CarPlay is no longer a subscription as of December 2019. So BMW has finally seen the light. I’ve always hated it when luxury brands charge for things that entry level brands give you for free. So very good, BMW. Free Apple CarPlay. And Android Auto is coming in July of 2020, so maybe by the time you’re watching this. Just good all around. It is still an extra option for a wireless charging pad, which is a little bit stingy. Because if you’re doing wireless connecting, then you need wireless charging, right? I mean, come on. Step it up, BMW! This is a good backseat. You know, people buy SUVs because they’re talking about how they need to carry a lot of people. And even so, especially in the smaller SUVs, a lot of times, the backseat feels like an afterthought. You know, it’ll be just like a really hard bench. It’s not very comfortable, and it’s not very roomy. It is not the case here. There is a ton of room, both headroom and leg room. So if you have adult people in the back seat, they’re going to be comfortable. And the seats are comfortable. They’re soft. And if you’re carrying babies, children, people in car seats, that’s not a problem. Either it’s really easy to get to the latches. And there is plenty of room to move folks in and out of their seats and pick up any toys that they drop. In the gasoline only models, you’ve got 28.7 cubic feet behind the rear seats. And if you put them down, which you can do very easily, there is 62.7 cubic feet, which is more than enough for, I’d say like two bicycles, if you need to picture it. It’s also six more than the Mercedes GLC offers and almost exactly equal with the Volvo XC60, both of which our competitors and highly rated by the Edmunds test team. So the X3 is in good company. Now in the hybrid, you lose 3 and 1/2 cubic feet. And that is because the battery makes the floor higher in the back cargo area. You probably won’t notice the loss of three feet. But you will notice the higher floor, especially when you’re loading things. It’s about that much higher off the bumper. And I noticed it even just putting this small suitcase in. So you will definitely notice it if you’re loading in a large piece of furniture. The X3 is a useful, small SUV that delivers on driving enjoyment and build quality, though it isn’t quite as elegant inside as rivals from Mercedes or Audi. Pricing can be as reasonable or as extravagant as you desire. But the good thing is that there isn’t really a bad version of this machine. So pick your must haves, whether that’s all wheel drive or electric motors or both, and then enjoy the drive. If you enjoyed this video, subscribe to our channel! It makes us feel so good. And follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


More:   2019 BMW X5 Test Results; Which Cars Should Be Brought Back From the Dead ?

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