new X3 that debuted as a 2004, fills a company gap in the crossover category that
automakers have been rushing to fill. In a name fitting for a brand new sibling,
the company has dubbed it a "sports activity vehicle," perhaps to suggest
its capability just demonstrated by winning the top two spots in the grueling,
5,000 mile Alcan Winter Rally through Canada and Alaska. That's activity on the
new, full-time all-wheel xDrive system continuously redistributes torque to wheels.
It mates with a dynamic stability system (DSC) to keep this taller, high-riding
(yet, says BMW, low center of gravity) sport utility under control, even when
weather can be treacherous. There's an optional five-speed automatic Steptronic
transmission, with available manual mode, or a standard six-speed manual. Either
go with the 2.5 liter (184 HP) or 3.0 liter (225 HP) inline sixes, supported by
BMW's notoriously sturdy suspension system.
X3's midsize delivers a surprising amount of interior room, enough for a unique
interior rack stand that can hold two bicycles.
the X3 falls a full decade below its older, off-roading sibling in price, topping
out in the $40,000 range, as it aims at a younger, more sophisticated entry-level
luxury buyer. BMW uses lots of online lures such as interactive internet games
in the process. And the array of console accessory gadgets, including a puzzling
nav system, that takes more time than expected to figure out? They seem fitted
for upcoming Gen Y folks, more likely to be wizards at taming such high technology.
Ah, for the
rest of us... Thank goodness they still print owners' manuals.