There are two versions of the X3, the 240-hp xDrive28i and the turbocharged, 300-hp xDrive35i. Both feature all-wheel drive, engine start-stop technology, hill descent control and an 8-speed automatic transmission. The new 5-link rear axle gives the X3 a much smoother ride than previously, and its new shape creates more cargo space.
Electronic Damping Control which is standard on the xDrive 35i and optional on the XDrive 28i, utilizes sensors for lateral force, steering wheel position, wheel rotation speed and more to adjust the driving experience accordingly. Standard dynamic stability control includes brake drying, start-off assist and brake fade compensation.
Though this is not a hybrid vehicle, the X3 uses unique technology to make brake energy regeneration to charge the battery. When the battery is charged, the alternator disengages from the engine to reduce the demand placed on the engine, which lowers emissions.
BMW has worked to make the X3 more functional than ever, with an optional 3-way 40/60/40 rear seat and a 12-volt power outlet in the rear cargo area. Technology like the heads-up display improves safety as well as functionality. ConnectedDrive uses Bluetooth to deliver email and text messages from your phone to your iDrive screen, or you can have the messages read aloud through the speakers. The same screen displays the images from the optional rear-view and top-view cameras.
The interior of the X3 has been improved, with a focus on driver ergonomics. The X3 includes an 8-way power driver's seat and automatic climate control. The biggest improvement isn't found only in the X3 -- the iDrive system, whose control knob is found in the center console, has been overhauled in recent years. What was once at best a techno-nuisance and at worst an excuse to take your eyes off the road for several seconds at a time has grown up to be useful and intuitive.
X3 options include a heated steering wheel, heated front seats and a power tailgate. The available Sports Activity package adds a leather steering wheel, light alloy wheels and aluminum roof rails. You can take it a step further with the X-Line Equipment package, which adds bling with aluminum and matte titanium touches to the exterior.
The 2012 X3 is virtually identical to the 2011 model.