Driving enthusiasts needn’t cringe when crossover shopping. There’s a place where enjoyment behind the wheel and lifestyle-toting co-exist. That place is your BMW showroom where you’ll find the 2011 BMW X3 xDrive35i. It’s right there, in the name BMW gives the X3: “Sports Activity Vehicle.” It’s not just a title, either.
The 2011 X3 xDrive35i (MSRP $41,050) is the second generation of the X3 and steps up the model’s performance game with a 300-hp inline six-cylinder engine. BMW has proven this powerful turbocharged engine’s performance over several years, and the extra muscle it adds to the engine bay underlines the “sport” in Sport Activity Vehicle. The high-achieving turbocharged six-cylinder – with direct injection, twin-scroll turbocharger, Valvetronic variable valve control and Double VANOS variable camshaft timing – shows off BMW’s powerplant prowess.
BMW’s xDrive Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system helps ensure that you get to your activities by being tremendously active. Power is fed into the rear-biased all-wheel drive system by an eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission that boosts both efficiency and performance. Quick, smooth shifts are the stock in trade of this gearbox, and with eight ratios, the gears can be more closely spaced for performance and smoothness enhancements. Efficient 26 mpg highway cruising is enabled by three overdriven gear ratios for the sixth, seventh and eighth speeds, resulting in lower engine revolutions at a range of speeds.
Working in conjunction with the transmission is the rest of the xDrive system, a torque-vectoring system that can target the engine’s power to the individual wheel that has the best grip in just milliseconds. Not only does xDrive’s speed and rear-wheel bias deliver stability and traction in weather that compromises the performance abilities of other vehicles, but when the going is dry, xDrive’s sure-footedness and smart power distribution enhances the smile on your face. The X3 xDrive35i’s mechanicals serve the enthusiast driver with a responsive, powerful engine, and the automatic transmission’s Adaptive Transmission Control tunes to your driving style with “Sport” and “Manual” shift modes for when you’re ready to cut loose or take full command.
BMW’s uncanny ability to tune a chassis better than anyone else is also highlighted in the 2011 X3 xDrive35i. The fully independent suspension has been redesigned for 2011, featuring a double-joint strut arrangement in the front and a rear axle supported by a five-link design. The track is widened by 92 millimeters for 2011, which makes direction changes sure and secure. Dynamic Damper Control is optional and adds electronically adjusted shock absorbers. It’s the first time this system has been offered on a BMW Sport Activity Vehicle (SAV), and Dynamic Control puts the driver in charge by fitting the center console with a button that switches the dampers between “Normal,” “Sport” and “Sport+” responsiveness modes.
Electric Power Steering featuring speed-dependent Servotronic assist is standard; the reduction in mechanical drag realized by switching to an electric system enhances fuel economy as well. The BMW X3 xDrive 35i’s 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway EPA fuel economy estimate is an increase of two mpg for each metric, in a larger vehicle that packs more horsepower. That’s no easy feat, and a testament to the effectiveness of BMW’s Efficient Dynamics, which includes techniques like Brake Energy Regeneration to recapture some of the energy normally lost entirely to heat when braking. It’s another subtle way of minimizing the mechanical load and thereby reducing fuel consumption, and another reflection of BMW’s holistic approach to engineering.
The X3 xDrive35i’s handsome design carries traditional BMW styling cues, refined for 2011 with a more aggressive, wider track and a half-inch wheelbase stretch. Rear-seat passengers benefit from the extra space between the axles; rear legroom is up by an inch to 36.8 inches, and rear headroom increases from 38 inches to 39.1 inches. Total length is up three inches to 183; height drops from 66 inches to 65.4 while exterior width bumps to 74.1 inches. The numbers translate to a sleeker-looking Sport Activity Vehicle.
Performing comfortably while keeping you comfortable is a big part of the 2011 X3 xDrive35i’s allure. Its cabin is cleanly designed with the latest entertainment and driver-aid technology. A crisp and clear 8.8-inch display comes with the optional navigation system. BMW’s MyInfo integrates with the Google Maps website, letting you send destinations and contact information directly to your X3, so you can plan a trip without even being in the car. Bluetooth® Mobile Office integrates the iDrive display with your smartphone, giving you in-car access to your calendar, and text-to-speech technology reads your e-mails, texts and calendar items to you, letting you drive with less distraction. BMW’s ConnectedDrive also seamlessly works with your digital devices via Bluetooth, eliminating wires and increasing enjoyment at the same time.
You can outfit your 2011 X3 xDrive35i with more technology, convenience and performance options with the Technology Package, Premium Package, Convenience Package, Sport Activity Package, Cold Weather Package or Dynamic Handling Package. There’s also an M Sport Package that adds aerodynamic and styling enhancements.
No other automaker offers the level of personal choice that BMW gives you on the 2011 X3. That blend of customization, classic looks and proven performance make the 2011 X3 xDrive35i an all-around winner in a category thick with competition.