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Range in Motion - 2005 Crossover Buyer's Guide

2005 BMW X3 Review

by Martha Hindes

2005 BMW X3

You could say that "X" marks the spot. With BMW's sporty, junior grade X3 Sports Activity Vehicle (or SAV for short), it certainly does.

A defining feature of BMW's mid-range crossover vehicle is xDrive, the advanced technology, all-wheel-drive system that's a contributing factor in its tenacious grip and (dare we say) popularity approaching that of big brother X5, and at $30 K and up (pre-options) at that.

With a year of sales under its belt, X3 is proving to be what company execs had hoped it would: An aggressive, capable, compact sports vehicle melding BMW's agile driving machine reputation with a true off-road capability and a lot of near luxury as a grabber. (It proved that point out of the chute by winning the grueling Alcan Winter Rally, called "...the world's longest, coldest...").

In true Germanic tradition, what you get as standard equipment on the pair of inline 6 engines is a six-speed manual transmission. Not to fear, however, in deference to American drivers' known taste for automatic everything, there is a five-speed automatic transmission with STEPTRONIC manual function, for those who are stick shift challenged. (It happened to us with the embarrassed valet at an area restaurant.)

For 2005, X3 has some interior upgrades and finishing touches. The audio system now comes MP-3 compatible (Business audio system) from the factory, replacing the need for a dealer-installed kit. A Bluetooth advanced communications kit will support BMW's driver assist system, and TV now receives digital signals. Exterior lines are smoothed for a cleaner appearance.

And a number of optional amenities now are standard or available at no extra cost: More chrome and wood treatments; instrument panel storage; a dual-panel, Panorama glass moonroof; the automatic trans in the upmarket, 225 HP 3.3.0i six (at an added cost with the 185 HP, 2.5i). Those are X factors of another genre.