Premium compact SUV; Built in USA
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $18,900 – $39,100*

2011 BMW X3 Front

2011 BMW X3 Profile

2011 BMW X3 Interior

2011 BMW X3 Rear

2011 BMW X3 Front-2

  • Handling
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Throttle response (xDrive28i)
  • Automatic-transmission performance

BMW’s redesigned X3 delivers the sportiness and refinement you expect from the brand, in a package that’s small in dimensions but highly versatile. Non-linear throttle response remains an annoyance, at least on the base xDrive28i model; but this premium-compact SUV has enough positive attributes to make it worth considering. New-car prices started reasonably but quickly moved upward when options were added. Secondhand buyers shouldn’t face quite as much difference between models, according to their equipment levels.


Not only was BMW’s X3 crossover redesigned for 2011, but production of this premium-compact SUV shifted to the United States from the previous model’s home in Austria. The 2011 X3 was slightly taller, longer, and wider than its predecessor. Two trim levels were offered: xDrive 28i and xDrive 35i. Each had BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system, a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine, and an eight-speed automatic transmission. In the entry-level xDrive28i, the engine produced 240 horsepower. Turbocharging helped boost output in the uplevel xDrive35i to 300 horsepower. Standard safety features included antilock braking, traction control, an antiskid system, hill descent control, and curtain side airbags. The 35i model added front side airbags. An electronic adaptive suspension was optional and included driver-selectable firmness settings. Split-folding 60/40 rear seatbacks were standard, with a 40/20/40 split optional. A power tailgate also was optional. BMW’s iDrive control interface was standard, as were power seats and keyless engine start. A navigation system and keyless access were optional. Extras on the X3 35i included wood interior trim, 18-inch run-flat tires, and steering-linked adaptive headlights. A new M Sport Package became available late in the model year. Rivals to BMW’s X3 included the Audi Q5, Infiniti EX35, Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class, and Volvo XC60. The crossover segment has been one of the industry’s fastest-growing categories.

Yearly Updates

2012 X3
Updates for the 2012 BMW X3 were minor, including several new paint colors. A panorama sunroof was now standard on the xDrive 35i.
2013 X3
The base xDrive28i replaced its 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine with a new 240-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. While top-line versions gained a sunroof as standard equipment.
2014 X3
There were no major changes to X3 for 2014.


longitudinal front-engine/all-wheel drive

Two 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engines have been available in the X3, each driving an eight-speed automatic transmission. In the xDrive28i version, the engine produced 240 horsepower. Turbocharging for the xDrive35i edition raised output to 300 horsepower. For 2013, the xDrive28i replaced its six with a turbocharged four cylinder.

dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/183
Engine HP 240
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 230
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
8-speed automatic



Turbocharged dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 240
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 260
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
8-speed automatic


Turbocharged dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/183
Engine HP 300
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 300
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
8-speed automatic



Road Test

The xDrive28i has good pep overall, moving out with gusto when you floor it. Unfortunately, BMW has not addressed (at least in 28i form) the X3’s foremost flaw, which is non-linear throttle response. There’s little engine response for the first one-third of gas-pedal travel, making the X3 feel rather slow from a stop. After that point, power comes on too strongly, which is frustrating in moderate-speed suburban commuting. Some testers also have complained of occasional bogging and surging from the transmission in its standard setting. Moving the shifter to Sport mode mitigates this phenomenon somewhat.

In Consumer Guide testing, a 28i averaged 20.6 mpg. EPA estimates were almost identical for the two engines: 19-mpg city and 25-26 mpg highway. All X3s require premium-grade gas.

Ride quality ranks as firm, just as expected from a BMW. This crossover SUV doesn’t absorb bumps as well as the best in the class, but no harshness is evident.

Although an X3 handles well for an SUV, it doesn’t quite match the sharp response of BMW’s passenger cars. Steering feedback is good, but several road-testers have complained of some numbness when moving the wheel slightly off-center. Body lean is well controlled in fast turns, and the brakes have excellent pedal feel.

The X3’s engine is vocal during acceleration, but it’s a great sound. Wind noise on the highway is stronger than we would like, but most other ruckus is well squelched.

Audio and climate controls are logically arranged and marked. BMW’s most recent iDrive system is straightforward enough. Uninitiated drivers will probably be puzzled at first, but after a while it becomes second nature. One test example would not play music from a device connected to its USB port, though the auxiliary stereo input worked properly.

Owners can expect typical BMW solidity and richness. Materials look and feel nice and have obviously been assembled with care.

Front-seat legroom is good and headroom is ample. Seats are somewhat flat, but do a good job of holding occupants in place around fast corners. A tall driving position provides very good overall visibility, but the X3’s upswept rear styling creates blind spots that require a double-check before starting lane changes.

Overall room in the back seat is more than sufficient. Six-footers can fit easily behind another person of similar height. If installed, the available rear climate control and heated seats would be a comfort “plus.”

The X3’s cargo area has compact-wagon floor space, but SUV height. Rear seatbacks fold down without moving the headrests or flipping the lower cushion, but they don’t rest completely flat. The optional 40/20/40 split-folding seatback is a nice convenience, if you can find an X3 that has it. Aside from large door pockets, interior storage is rather meager.


Model Tested: 2011 BMW X3 xDrive28i

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 6
Fuel Economy - 5
Ride Quality - 6
Steering/Handling - 6
Quietness - 6


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 7
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
Cargo Room - 8


Value - 6

Total: 62


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
110.6 183.3 74.1 66.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
56.6 NA 17.7 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.7 39.1 39.9 36.8
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2015 X3 28i 4-door wagon


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Engine knock and oil leak
Description: Valve covers of six-cylinder engine could break in cold weather. (2011)
Oil leak
Description: Oil leak may develop at the transfer case and is often misdiagnosed as a transmission leak. (2011-12)
Audio system
Description: The entertainment system may not work or work intermittently with an iPod or iPhone unless it has the iOS4.2 operating system update, or the charging portion of the vehicle’s jack may be defective. (2011)
Water leak
Description: There was a campaign to modify the HVAC drain on some vehicles to prevent it from freezing up in cold weather and causing water to drip on the passenger side floor. (2011)
Description: Windshield wipers might turn on by themselves and fail to turn off even when vehicle has been turned off. (2011)
Electrical problem
Description: Accessories connected by an aftermarket USB cable (including cables that came with the device) may not work and may even kill the vehicle battery. (2011-12)
Electrical problem
Description: Various electrical items may quit working and, in rare cases, the engine may not start due to a bad 100-amp fuse in the rear distribution box requiring replacement of the whole box. (2011-12)
Electrical problem
Description: Front and rear parking sensors may not work because of a short in the wiring harness. (2011-12)
Electrical problem
Description: Alternator may fail to charge battery. (2012)
Electrical problem
Description: Headlight high-beam might turn on when using turn signal. Turn signal may work only when high-beam is on. Horn might not work. (2011)
Description: A low oil level warning could be due to an oil level sensor malfunction, especially in cold weather accompanied by short trip driving. (2011)
Transmission problems
Description: Transmission may sporadically go into Park or Neutral because of a software problem. (2012)
Fueling problems
Description: The fuel cap tether is prone to breaking. (2011-12)

Recall History

2011 X3
Description: Control module in electric power steering unit may malfunction, resulting in sudden loss of power-steering assistance.
Description: The front-passenger airbag might not deploy.
2012-14 X3
Description: The power assist for the brakes may fail.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.