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Looking for a touch of class combined with a respectable power output? Then the 2021 BMW X3 might have already caught your eye. Athletic and spacious, the X3 has a lot to offer those looking for a small luxury SUV. But is it really for everyone?
The X3 got a new plug-in hybrid model last year, and the M40i engine got an upgrade. So don't expect a ton of changes for the 2021 model year. But you can expect a lot of the same good things, including a ton of options for customizing the X3 to your liking. And that is what really sells people on the X3 (and on BMW in general). Having a lot of options available to you can be a good thing.
The 2021 BMW X3 is mostly a hit. Yet does it hit the spot for you? This review will go over what is new for the model year, what we like about the X3, a few things we would like to see improved upon for next year, and how the X3 stacks up against its top competitors. Be sure to read through to the end as we will give you our final recommendation on the X3.
What's New for 2021?
The 2021 BMW X3 finally sees the addition of Android Auto. Drivers had been wondering why it was missing for quite a few years, and BMW listened to their concerns about not having it. This means that Android smartphone users can sync their apps up with the vehicle. Also, the M40i and xDrive30e both get a new digital instrumentation cluster to liven things up along the dash. The M Competition model has been turned into the Competition Package, and it gives the vehicle the M Sport exhaust system, 21-inch wheels done in alloy, and a power boost to the engine.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2021 BMW X3 – The Pros
1. Engine Options That are Both Powerful and Easy on Fuel
The 2021 BMW X3 gives you a series of great engine choices, each of which is powerful and fuel-efficient. The base engine on the xDrive30i is a 2.0-L turbocharged 4-cylinder that generates 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The hybrid xDrive30e has this engine as well as the motor and battery that round out its hybrid powertrain. Together, this variant has a power output of 288 hp an 310 lb-ft of torque. And then there is the M40i, which has a 3.0-L 6-cylinder engine that generates 382 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque. And that's not to mention what you can get on the X3's M version.
2. The Brakes are Easy to Modulate
Not only do you get fantastic engine choices that create superb acceleration, but you also get brakes that are easy to modulate. Coming to a panic stop should make the driver feel pretty safe, as the X3 can get from 60 to 0 mph in a distance that is considered short for its segment.
3. Confident Handling and Steering
The steering and handling capabilities round out a solid driving performance on the 2021 BMW X3. This ride remains smooth and compliant through and through, and you get plenty of feedback coming through the steering wheel. Switching it into the Comfort mode means you might tend to over-steer since the column is pretty light in this mode. The vehicle stays planted though and can handle turns as well as any sedan.
4. Cozy Seats
As is typical of BMW, the seats are superbly cozy. Up front, you get plenty of support as well as comfort, making long road trips a true delight. They are also highly adjustable (and power adjustable for added convenience), which means that all types of occupants can easily find comfort inside of the cabin. And with the seats being so adjustable, the driver can easily find a good spot that allows them to see the instrumentation display, infotainment display, and out the front windshield.
5. A Quiet Cabin
The 2021 BMW X3 has a cabin that is so quiet you can hear a pin drop while the engine is idling. Seriously, drivers might have to glance at the tachometer to remind themselves that the vehicle is still running. The cabin is also well-insulated from tire and wind noise, so taking it up to speed on the highway will not cause you to need to turn up the audio's volume. All in all, you will be hard-pressed to find a quieter cabin, even among luxury SUVs.
6. Easy-to-use Controls
The X3 has an interface of controls that are easy to use. There are plenty of physical controls, but even the digital ones are easy to use. They are clearly labeled and logically placed, ensuring that drivers can easily reach the controls they want to use without having to keep their hands off of the steering wheel for too long.
7. Plenty of Space Up Front and in the Rear
Up front, you get an abundance of space for heads, shoulders, knees, and hips. But even in the rear seat, taller individuals can enjoy having plenty of head and leg space. In fact, this is one of the most spacious cabins in its segment. Stretch out and relax; you can certainly do so inside of the X3's cavernous cabin.
8. A Commanding Outward View
The view from the driver's seat is nothing short of vast. The roof is quite tall, and the pillars are relatively slender, so you can see quite a lot from the front, rear, and even the sides. There are short headrests for the rear seats, which helps to keep them from getting in the way of your view from the rear-view mirror. Adjust the driver's seat as needed for an even better view - it is quite easy to do with the seat's wide array of power adjustability.
9. Infotainment Features are High-tech but User-friendly
The 2021 BMW X3 has an infotainment system that manages to be user-friendly while also being totally current-gen and high-tech. The interface is easy enough to figure out, so the learning curve is short even for those of us who are not too terribly tech-savvy. The voice controls actually respond well to native speech, which makes it so that you can access most of the X3's controls by using verbal commands.
10. An Abundance of Cargo Space
The X3 offers its owners a lot of versatile, usable cargo space. With all seats left upright, you get 28.7 cubic feet of cargo space. However, when you take the rear seats down (and they do fold fairly flat), this number maxes out at 62.7 cubes. This is one of the most spacious cargo areas you will find in this segment. Not to mention, the cabin also abounds with plenty of small item storage areas. The door bins are massive, and the storage area to the left of the steering wheel should come in handy.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2021 BMW X3 – The Cons
1. A Busy Ride Quality Depending on the Trim Level
If you get a 2021 BMW X3 that is equipped with the optional Dynamic Handling, you might notice that the ride quality gets busy while going over bumpy road surfaces. You will feel all of the impacts these vehicles sustain, but you will only feel them once. There is no reverberation throughout the cabin, and the X3s without this package equipped should feel just fine.
2. Driver Aids Sometimes Get Intrusive
Some of the standard driver aids can issue false warnings, and that can be a distraction while driving. While you do get a ton of them, adaptive cruise control and the parking camera can be a bit too finicky for the liking. You can disable some of these driver aids, but since you likely want some of them on, this could be a nuisance to deal with while on the road.
3. It Might Not Look as High-end as Some Competitors
This is purely an aesthetic gripe we have, and it is a very minimal one at that. The 2021 BMW X3 has a cabin that looks nice and is certainly put together well, as you will not notice any gaps between the panels or odd rattling noises. The only issue we take is that the X3 does not look as high-end as some of its competitors. The materials are not cheap by any means, but they also do not compete with what you get inside other cabins.
How it Stacks Up to the Competition:
2021 BMW X3 vs. 2021 BMW X5
The BMW X3 gets some serious competition from its bigger sibling, the 2021 BMW X5. The X5 is, of course, a bit pricier since it is a bigger vehicle. It has a series of excellent engine options that allow you to customize the X5 how you please. The cabin feels a bit more luxurious than the X3's, and it is undoubtedly a spacious one. However, the vehicle's thick roof pillars and tiny side mirrors mean that you get some big blind spots. Also, the wider door sills make for a more difficult entry into and exit from the vehicle.
2021 BMW X3 vs. 2021 Audi Q3
The 2021 Audi Q3 is another top challenger this model year. The Q3 starts off at a lower price and does not skyrocket as you go up in trim levels. The cabin is manufactured with high-quality materials that make the cabin look more expensive than it really is, and the cabin is comfy and quiet. You also get a lot of room inside of it. On the downside, the fuel economy is poor, and the vehicle is therefore not that exciting to drive. You also do not get that many storage spaces inside of the cabin.
The 2021 BMW X3 is a luxurious little SUV that offers a lot of options for customization. You can get something that will meet your needs when it comes to fuel efficiency and power output. And the controls are all pretty easy to use. However, you will have to find a way to cope with several obnoxious driver aids.
• Why buy a 2020 BMW X3? w/ pros vs cons