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New vs Used: BMW X3

The BMW X3 is the brand’s best-selling vehicle. The luxury compact crossover delivers on style and excitement, but is it a better buy new or used?

Find the X-Factor

bmwusa.com | press.bmwgroup.com

bmwusa.com | press.bmwgroup.com |  Shop BMW X3 on Carsforsale.com

Popularity is not necessarily a good indicator of quality. The Yugo sold fairly well, despite its many, many failings as a car. In fact, there are plenty of overrated cars out there whose sales figures greatly outsize their actual quality. Such is not the case, however, with the BMW X3. Sure, it’s their best-selling model, but that mass-market appeal doesn’t mean it sacrifices much in the process. The X3 is popular because it’s a genuinely good crossover, but also because it’s a small-ish, affordable, fast, luxury crossover. That’s a lot of boxes to check at once and the X3 checks them all competently.

Yet, the X3 retains that BMW identity through and through. The style, luxury, and joyful driving experience are all fully intact. In fact, the X3 out handles and out accelerates a good number of its stablemates. For those considering an X3, the question is, do you buy new or used?

Below we look at the latest X3, the newly released 2022 model and the 2017 model from a generation back. Those five years have seen significant changes to the X3 inside, outside, and under the hood. All of which will help inform our recommendation.

Specs

2017 BMW X3 3.0L I6 - carsforsale.com
2017 BMW X3 3.0L I6 - carsforsale.com

The 2017 BMW X3 offered three engine options. The base 2.0L turbo four-cylinder makes 240 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. It gets a respectable 21 city and 28 highway mpg. Next is a 3.0L turbocharges inline-six making an even 300 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque. Fuel economy dips slightly to 19/26 mpg. A more efficient 2.0L turbo diesel is available with 180 horsepower, 280 lb.-ft. of torque and an impressive 27/34 mpg rating. All engines work in tandem with the same eight-speed transmission. The base engine is the only one that can be optioned with rear-wheel drive while all others feature all-wheel drive as the default.

The following generation and annual tweaks, like the inclusion and subsequent discontinuation of a plug-in hybrid option, mean the 2022 BMW X3 has a lot more to offer for powertrains. First is the base 2.0L inline-four, which gets a slight bump in out put to 248 horsepower. Again, the base is the only X3 with the option for rear-wheel drive. This configuration, the sDrive30i, also gets the best gas mileage of the bunch with 25 city and 29 highway mpg while the AWD version, the xDrive30i, gets 23/29 mpg.

2022 BMW X3 3.0L I6 - Herb Chambers BMW of Sudbury on YouTube.com
2022 BMW X3 3.0L I6 - Herb Chambers BMW of Sudbury on YouTube.com

Unlike the 2017 version, the new 2022 has M versions on tap. First up is the M40i with its 3.0L turbocharged 6-cylinder aided by a mild hybrid assist to attain 382 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque. Fuel economy remains good here at 21/27 mpg. The X3 M tunes the same six-cylinder to 473 horsepower. The top of the range X3 M Competition maxes out at 503 horsepower. Both get just 14/19 mpg.

Driving & Performance

2017 BMW X3 - press.bmwgroup.com
2017 BMW X3 - press.bmwgroup.com

The last generation 2017 BMW X3 was plenty impressive even before the recent engine upgrades. The four-cylinder is lively, with enough power to shuttle the X3 from zero to 60 in the mid-6-second range. The six-cylinder shaves about 1.5 seconds off that time and offers a good punch in passing. The diesel is much slower but makes up for it with stellar gas mileage. The real highlight of the X3 is the car-like handling. Despite the crossover profile, the X3 maneuvers like a much shorter vehicle.

2022 BMW X3 - bmwusa.com
2022 BMW X3 - bmwusa.com

The new 2022 BMW X3 is also athletic and eager to let loose, even before we consider the new engine options. The slightly more powerful four-cylinder is still decent for daily driving while adding a little extra pop under the accelerator. The new M car offerings scale from great to slightly absurd. The M40i stands out as the sweet spot of cost, efficiency (with that mild-hybrid assist), and overall power. The new six-cylinder now rockets from zero to 60 in 4.4 seconds. The X3 M and M Competition offer a ton of power for such a small vehicle but come with a significant price bump.

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Both the 2017 and 2022 X3s do come with one glaring deficiency. The steering, while light and responsive, is numb and notably less communicative than segment rivals.

Comfort & Interior

Just as the engine bay saw important changes, so too has the X3’s interior. The 2017 X3’s interior features comfortable seats, attractive styling, and a good assortment of standard features that are on par with the rest of the segment. Standard features include a 9-speaker stereo, HD radio, and Bluetooth but no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay integration. The infotainment screen is also fairly small by today’s standards at 6.5-inches.

The new generation 2018 X3 received a revamped interior and the new 2022 refreshes it yet again. The new interior offers a more refined and cohesive design along with more standard features like a power sports seats, dual-zone climate control, and a new larger 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen. The seats in the X3 remain a highpoint with just the right amount of bolstering and give to feel secure and cossetted at the same time.

Trims & Features

2017 BMW X3 - press.bmwgroup.com
2017 BMW X3 - press.bmwgroup.com

The 2017 X3 starts out with a good assortment of standard features like a power liftgate, rain-sensing wipers, power front seats, Bluetooth, and HD radio. Additional options include a Harmon Kardon premium stereo, a Wi-Fi hotspot, heats seats, navigation, an aero kit, and sports seats. Unfortunately, BMW was not so generous when it came to safety features as no modern safety tech came standard. This means if you’re buying a used X3 make sure to carefully read the spec sheet to know what safety items have been optioned on that particular vehicle.

2022 BMW X3 - bmwusa.com
2022 BMW X3 - bmwusa.com

The new 2022 X3 is even more generously equipped out of the gate. It comes standard with tri-zone climate control, synthetic leather upholstery, powerlift gate, 19-inch alloy wheels, wood trim, and that new 10.25-inch touchscreen. Options include a heads-up display, ambient lighting, a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry, real leather upholstery, wireless charging, and even a self-parking feature. This time around, BMW saw fit to provide the X3 with plenty of standard safety features like lane departure warnings, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, driver attention monitor, and adaptive LED head lights.

Conclusions

2022 BMW X3 - bmwusa.com

2022 BMW X3 – bmwusa.com |  Shop BMW X3 on Carsforsale.com

BMW has clearly made strides in improving their already impressive X3 over that past five years. The question remains: are those improvements enough to overcome the cost savings of buying used. Here are the numbers: currently, a used 2017 BMW X3 will carry something on the order of 30,000 to 50,000 miles and come in between $25,000 and $32,000. This is true regardless of whether you’re shopping the four- or six-cylinder version.

The new 2022 BMW X3 is proof positive that luxury autos do indeed depreciate steeply in their first few years. Today’s base X3 starts at $43,700, jumps to $57,800 for the M40i, and lands at $69,900 for the X3 M. Typically saving some 50 percent off a new vehicle is a good deal, but in the case of the X3 more needs to be considered.

2022 BMW X3 - bmwusa.com
2022 BMW X3 - bmwusa.com

BMW, and really the rest of the German luxury brands, tend to have less than perfect reliability ratings and steep repair costs. In the case of the X3 a new 2022 not only offers better powertrains and more standard safety features but also fewer miles and 4-year, 50,000 mile limited and powertrain warranties. Especially if you’re fine with the very decent four-cylinder, the new 2022 BMW X3 xDrive30i or sDrive30i is a really attractive deal and one of the few instances where you’re safe to spring for the new car versus the used one.

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Chris Kaiser

With two decades of writing experience and five years of creating advertising materials for car dealerships across the U.S., Chris Kaiser explores and documents the car world’s latest innovations, unique subcultures, and era-defining classics. Armed with a Master's Degree in English from the University of South Dakota, Chris left an academic career to return to writing full-time. He is passionate about covering all aspects of the continuing evolution of personal transportation, but he specializes in automotive history, industry news, and car buying advice.

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