dominating, self-named "Sports Activity Vehicle"
X3 came roaring out the gate by winning a grueling
Northern wilderness race. Now, in its third year
as an '06, this five-seater shows no signs of
slowing down. With handling reputation solidly
intact, BMW turns attention to the kinds of refinements
meant to seal a sweet buyer's deal. Among them:
Chrome vertical grille slats and side trim that
add visual punch. Some exterior trims, such as
wheel arches and front and rear bumper areas,
are color keyed. The Sport Package gets a new
sport steering wheel, plus optional 18-inch wheels
in differentiated sizes for front and rear tires.
that said, there's a lot of X3 that simply didn't
need changing. Say "BMW," and "driver's
car" is almost an automatic response. The
3.0-liter six cylinder powerplant on this Austrian-built
import mates with BMW's full-time advanced "xDrive"
AWD for legendary BMW road control. Hill descent
and dynamic stability controls keep it on the
road when surfaces get dicey. Speed sensitive
steering aids parking. And blast off comes from
the precise ZF ("zed eff") six speed
manual or optional STEPTRONIC five-speed automatic
with manual mode. Mileage isn't great at 17/25
manual or 16/23 automatic. But that's not the
main reason for going BMW.
foglamps, rain-sensing wipers and adaptive brake
lights add exterior appeal. So do heated mirrors
and heated windshield washer jets. Maple Sycamore
Dark wood adds class to the interior, along with
optional Birch Grain Light or aluminum finish
trim. The industry standard Bluetooth cell phone
interface keeps people in easy touch.
smaller than the heftier X5 SUV, the X3 still
can tow. A trailer-hitch kit, skid plates, running
boards, roof racks and a two-bicycle cargo carrier
are among BMW center-installed accessories. So
are Sirius satellite radio, iPod adapter and six-disc
CD changer. Those can push up the price for the
amenity minded. But $37.5 K gets a lot of vehicle