With any engine, the X3 has a responsive and quick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission, and it includes an Eco Pro mode that, when the button is depressed, helps improve fuel economy by optimizing heating and air conditioning use, softening accelerator response and changing shift times. All models also have Auto Start/Stop, which shuts off the engine when waiting at stoplights--starting quickly when the brake is released; and Brake Energy Regeneration essentially saves fuel by using the alternator smartly. Fuel economy ratings are 21 mpg city, 28 highway with the xDrive28i, or 19/26 with the xDrive35i.
Most versions of the X3 offer the xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system, which works together with the stability control electronics and normally send 60 percent of torque to the rear wheels; a multi-disc clutch system can send up to 100 percent to the rear wheels when it's needed for traction -- whether by a slippery road situation or high-performance driving. X3 models also have Servotronic speed-sensitive steering, although a Variable Sports Steering -- essentially a variable-rack system -- is optional. The X3 rides on run-flat tires.
The interior of the X3 is set up like a wagon, only with a somewhat higher seating position and plenty of headroom. Ingress and egress are easier than in a sedan and the back seat can fit three across, albeit snugly. There's a ski pass-through and the rear seatback is split 40/20/40 so that it can be folded for any combination of passengers and cargo. The X3 also offers a number of small storage cubbies in the doors, the dash and center console.
Standard equipment includes a power tailgate, 18-inch wheels, a universal garage-door opener, a panoramic moonroof, xenon headlamps, automatic climate control, dynamic cruise control, fog lamps, power front seats, driver seat memory and a BMW Professional sound system with HD Radio and satellite radio compatibility. BMW Assist eCall and TeleServices emergency roadside assistance and concierge services are now included, too.
The options list is long and includes both major packages and a la carte items. Some of the larger packages include a Dynamic Handling Package (Dynamic Damper Control, Performance Control and Variable Sport Steering), a Driver Assistance Package (rearview camera with Top View and Park Distance Control), an M Sport Package (high-gloss roof rails, sport seats, an aero kit, an Anthracite headliner, Shadowline exterior trim, an M Sports leather steering wheel, paddle shifters, Dynamic Damper Control and 19-inch M light-alloy double spoke wheels), or the Technology Package (navigation, real-time traffic, a head-up display, BMW Apps).