BMW X3 Review 2023

BMW X3 At A Glance

5/5
Honest John Overall Rating
The best-handling premium family SUV, the BMW X3 backs this up with an excellent interior, a decent selection of features as standard and plenty of space.

+Class-leading interior with a real quality feel, plenty of space in the cabin and boot, decent handling is complemented by a good range of engines.

-There's no 7-seat option unlike some rivals, some desirable options can be pricey.

New prices start from £43,370
Insurance Groups are between 10–45
On average it achieves 81% of the official MPG figure

The X3 is BMW's mid-size family SUV, combing rugged off-road looks with sporting presence. Competing against the likes of Audi Q5, Volvo XC60 and Land Rover Discovery Sport, the BMW X3 is the best of the bunch when it comes to handling, while its complemented by a quality interior and raised driving position. But does it make it the pick of the bunch? Find out in our BMW X3 review.

The BMW X3 is now in its third generation and we now think it's one of the best SUVs going. That's not to say it's always been the pick of the crop. The first iteration of the X3 arrived back in 2004 and received a lukewarm reception, while the second version appeared in 2010 and took things up a notch. While it was an improvement, it wasn't quite enough to muscle its way to top of a pile that was beginning to look increasingly crowded. 

This third-generation BMW X3 arrived back in 2018 and had an update in 2022, with the car sitting above the more compact X1 and below the larger X5 and X7 in BMW's range of SUVs. 

Despite all models featuring four-wheel drive, the BMW X3 shouldn't be thought of as a go-anywhere 4x4. The focus here is very much on a versatile family car that delivers an engaging drive and is happiest on the open road or a motorway. 

If you're set on an SUV but still want something entertaining to drive, then the BMW X3 is the pick of the bunch compared to rivals like the Audi Q5, Volvo XC60 and Mercedes-Benz GLC. It tackles bends that bit more competently, feeling more planted when you head into a corner.

The BMW X3 also comes with a decent range of engines. There's both four and six-cylinder petrol and diesel options, including a 510PS M Competition option. There's also a plug-in hybrid option as well with a range of 30 miles on electric power alone, while those looking for an electric-only option have the recently launched BMW iX3

The interior of the BMW X3 is everything you'd hope to find in a luxury SUV. There's plenty of space in the cabin, while the quality of finish and materials used excellent. You'd be hard pushed to find a nicer quality interior in a premium mid-sized SUV. 

The boot space in the BMW X3 is also very good at a roomy 550 litres, though if you opt for the plug-in hybrid version, the boot shrinks down to 450 litres to accommodate the additional batteries. 

There's also plenty of tech on offer with the BMW X3, with the latest cars coming with a large 12.3-inch touchscreen and digital dash. The infotainment system is one of the best around, especially if you use the intuitive iDrive interface to work your way around it.  

The BMW X3 is an easy premium SUV to recommend. It drives well, the interior quality is excellent, there's a spacious cabin, decent boot and an engine option to suit. Add in the fact that it's the best driving car in its class and comes with a decent range of standard kit and it's definitely one of our top picks. 

Looking for a second opinion? Read heycar's BMW X3 review.

Ask Honest John

I'm rejecting a car but the dealer is deducting £2000 for loss of value, is this fair?

"I purchased a BMW X3 2019 model in Jan 2023 and it has developed issues with its brake discs. I have given the dealer four opportunities to repair but they have not been able to. I have now rejected the car as I raised the issue within six months. They are now deducting £2000 for seven months which I find quite excessive given the hassle I have been through. How is usage normally calculated and how do I know this figure is fair?"
The dealer is entitled to claim a reduction in the value of the vehicle based on the time elapsed and also the mileage covered, but there is no hard and fast rule around this. Although you have been through a great deal of disruption because of the problems, this calculation does not take this into account, and is purely based on the loss of value in the car. You can try and negotiate this figure with the dealer, but as with any negotiation it is important to be realistic in order to get a resolution.
Answered by David Ross

Which automatic is the most reliable?

"Which five-year-old SUV has the most reliable automatic gearbox?"
The reliability of automatic gearboxes has improved significantly over the years, even for more complex configurations like dual-clutch automatics that have now been around for 20 years. It's also important to remember that no automatic gearbox is impervious to neglect, so if you're buying a used car then a full service history is a must. We would suggest the BMW X3 (or X4) with the eight-speed automatic, the Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V and Lexus RX.
Answered by David Ross

Can you recommend a reliable used SUV?

"I currently have a 2017 Ford Kuga 1.5 petrol with 44,000 miles and a full service history. I’m looking at changing it for something with the same higher up seating position and like the look of the Audi Q5. Are they worth the money and reliable? It would be a used car and I’ve got a budget of around £16,000. Is this worth it and what sort of age would I be looking at? If not, what other brands should I look at? "
Audi Q5s are generally considered reliable if well maintained, but when things do go wrong the parts and complexity of premium cars like this can add to the cost quite a bit. For your budget, depending on engine and spec, you'd be getting a 2012-2015 car. We'd also be checking out the BMW X3, while the Volvo XC60 is also a good buy.
Answered by Lawrence Allan

What should I replace my Honda CR-V with?

"I'm looking for a shortlist of possible options for a used (up to 3 years old) replacement for an ageing Honda CR-V. The Honda has been very practical, but it is now over 10 years old and I would like to try something different. I would still like my wish list to include the best features of the Honda, including good reliability, high driving position, automatic transmission and large luggage carrying capacity, but as it will be used for mainly local journeys with occasional longer trips, I would definitely like much better efficiency, so a petrol/hybrid option would also be preferred."
The Toyota RAV4 is the obvious choice. Both the current and the last generation RAV4 came with a hybrid option that makes them very cheap to run and you don't need to charge them. Both versions are known for their reliability and are also spacious. The Lexus NX is another option but it's quite small, while the RX is big but expensive. If you fancy a plug-in hybrid – which I'd only recommend if you have somewhere to charge the car at home – I'd suggest the new Kia Sorento. You can get PHEV versions of cars like the Land Rover Discovery Sport, BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC, but they're more expensive and not as spacious. Reviews of all these cars, below: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/toyota/rav-4-2018/ https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/toyota/rav4-2013/ https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/lexus/nx-2021/ https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/lexus/rx-2015/ https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/kia/sorento-2020/ https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/land-rover/discovery-sport-2015/ https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/bmw/x3-g01-2018/ https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/mercedes-benz/glc-class-2015/
Answered by Russell Campbell
More Questions

What does a BMW X3 cost?