First Look: The 2018 BMW X3 aims straight at the heart of the fastest-growing luxury market

This morning via live stream from its new plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, BMW debuted the new version of one of its best selling models, the 2018 X3 entry luxury crossover. With the demand for these luscious little ‘utes at an all-time high and showing no signs of slowing down, there’s a good chance this could supplant BMW’s 3 Series sports sedan as the most important model in the lineup.

Along with an all-new architecture, the 2018 X3 gets a new set of power plants as well, including the volume model xDrive30i, and for the first time ever, a performance version in the form of the M40i. The xDrive30i will feature the familiar 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder found throughout the rest of the BMW range and Mini lineup, making 248 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque, an increase of 8 horsepower over the outgoing X3 xDrive28i. This model can reach 60 mph in just 6.0 seconds with the help of a standard 8-speed automatic transmission.

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The M40i on the other hand receives a twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder, which makes a healthy 355 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque, making for a best-in-class 0-60 time of 4.6 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph.

Sporting similar proportions and dimensions to the outgoing model but featuring a 2.2-inch longer wheelbase, there’s more room inside the X3 than ever.

(BMW)

While the dimensions of the X3 have been barely changed, there are numerous updates where it counts, especially in terms of styling and wheelbase to accomodate more interior space. If the old X3 could be accused of anything, it was looking a bit generic, and unfortunately the new X3 fits the same bill.

That’s not to say it isn’t handsome, though, especially in M40i spec with the larger wheels and body cladding, and the sleeker sheetmetal makes for a more elegant SUV than the last generation, and a more attractive one than the smaller X1.

The 2018 X3 features a 10.25 inch iDrive infotainment display with touchscreen functionality and a redundant controller interface. Wireless Apple CarPlay functionality and satellite navigation are optional.

(BMW)

Inside, the X3 borrows styling cues from the new 5 and 7 Series sedans, but adds a helping of pizzazz with the angular vents on either side, and the unique trim piece on the center dashboard. A tall windshield helps improve visibility, and the wide center console looks adquate enough to hold the average American’s drinks, knick-knacks, or whatever else they happen to be carrying along.

Also, there will be no stripped-down base models on the 2018 X3, as every one sold in the U.S. will come standard with the xLine design package, adding rugged looks to an SUV that promises to have at least some semblance of off-road capability.

Tri-zone automatic climate control is standard, and the 40:20:40 folding rear seats can be set at different heights to accomodate cargo of all shapes and sizes. Speaking of which, capacity behind the rear seats increases to 28.7 cubic feet, while maximum cargo capacity is slightly down at 62.7 cubic feet.

For the first time ever, an available sport-tuned M40i model gives the X3 sub-5-second 0-60 mph performance with 355 horsepower from a turbocharged inline-6.

(BMW)

BMW has increased the rear bias of its all-wheel-drive system for the X3, promising more car-like handling qualities and a sportier feel in the corners and when hard on the accelerator. All-wheel drive is standard, doing away with the rear-wheel-drive-only former X3, which was about as close to a wagon in terms of handling as an SUV could get.

The optional 10.25 inch touchscreen with iDrive 6.0 as standard can be operated by touch or by the iDrive controller mounted on the center console, and can be equipped with satellite navigation. There’s also an option for wirelessly-operated Apple CarPlay, which debuted in the 2017 5 Series, but no Android Auto functionality just yet. The new iDrive system can also incorporate gesture control, which can operate several media and phone functions with certain motions of your hand or fingers.

As is par for the course these days, there are a number of active and passive safety features available on the new X3, though in typical BMW style, you’ll have to shell out to get them. Adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, and more, are all available on all trim levels of the X3.

 

The 2018 X3 goes on sale later this year, and will be built right here in the U.S. at the brand’s Spartanburg, South Carolina plant.

(BMW)

Buyers can also connect with their car via BMW’s mobile app, which supports smart devices like the Apple Watch and Amazon Echo, and can be used to check the car’s status, start it, or even set climate control preferences before you head out. There’s also an available 360-degree camera with a 3D projection of the car so you can see exactly what’s going on around you whether you’re inside the vehicle or viewing it on the phone. The iDrive system also incorporates ParkNow, which can help you find open street or garage parking spaces if you decide to venture into the city.

With so many standard and optional features, the X3 is less of a crossover version of the 3 Series sedan, and more of a tall 5 Series with a lift back and all-wheel drive. As customers have proven time and time again recently, they’ll be willing to pay, so get ready to see a whole lot more X3s on the road than you’ve likely ever seen before.

The 2018 X3 will be built at BMW’s Spartanburg, SC plant, the brand’s largest-capacity facility, and will be exported to various markets across the world. It goes on sale in the U.S. in the later half of 2017.