Since its launch in 2003, close to 600,000 BMW X3s have been sold through 2019 in the United States alone, which proves its incredible popularity in the SUV crossover segment. In today’s world, with SUVs and Crossovers totally dominating the automotive market, BMW offers a wide variety of models to choose from.
By John Coulter, CURRENT EV CMO
Classified as a Small Sport Utility Vehicle 4WD by the EPA, the X3 is the German luxury brand’s best-selling SUV. Believe it or not, it’s BMW’s best-selling vehicle, period! Drivers have fallen in love with this practical 5-seat SUV that offers the sports sedan handling of a 3 Series. One of its biggest attractions: it’s just the right size for singles, couples and small families, which make up a sizable chunk of its customers.
For 2021, the Bavarian automaker has introduced an X3 hybrid version with numerous technology updates, an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery. Called the X3 xDrive 30e, this 3rd Generation X3 becomes one of 5 BMW plug-in hybrids now available for drivers looking to become e-mobile.
Assuming you’ve charged the 12kWh battery, your 2021 X3 PHEV will start in Max eDrive (all-electric mode) and will stay there for an EPA-rated 18 miles of electric range. An Autoblog test driver claims he got 20.9 miles before the gas engine kicked in. The car is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and an 80kW (107hp) e-motor which combines for 288hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. The e-motor is integrated into the car’s 8-speed Steptronic transmission.
Once the battery is depleted, the SAV – Sports Activity Vehicle, as BMW likes to call it – operates as a conventional hybrid, with an MPGe of 60 City/24 Highway, and a total range of 340 miles. With only the gas engine operating, the car gets an EPA-estimated 24mpg and a 14/19/16 city/highway/combined rating. The plug-in’s battery is fully re-powered in 3.5 hours using a Level 2 (240V) charger, and in 6 hours using a regular 120V wall plug. A BMW iWallbox will charge the car in around 3 hours.
BMW claims this PHEV will reach a speed of 60mph in 5.9 seconds, a 10th of a sec faster than the gas-only X3. The automaker estimates their new plug-in saves up to 778 gas gallons per year and reduces the CO2 footprint by 12,724 pounds per year, giving the eco-minded a reason to cheer.
The X3 PHEV’s competition for 2021 includes the Mercedes GLC 350e, Volvo’s XC60 T8 and Audi’s new Q5 TFSIe. The Mercedes offers 4 more e-miles, the Audi offers 2 more e-miles and the Volvo offers 1 additional e-mile. All three competitors have more power than the X3 30e and the GLC 350e is faster. But the X3 30e beats out these prestige SUVs price-wise; a major consideration for most customers.
Bottom line? If you’re looking for a smaller luxury SUV with an ecology-conscious twist of 18 green miles added, and you’re a fan of BMW’s highly venerated styling touches and superb driving dynamics, this is the car for you. Excellent chassis tuning and great suspension set-ups offer a comfortable ride at one end of the driving spectrum and a sporty ride at the other, depending on the driving mode you choose.
Another X3 PHEV bonus is its generous rear cabin passenger area; the vehicle has 28.7 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats in place and 62.7 cubic feet when they’re folded down. These volumes are at the high end of the car’s segment. Interesting to note: the PHEV loses just 1.5 cubic feet to the gas version to make room for its battery packs under the rear seats; a sign of smart design and engineering. Towing is rated at around 4,400 pounds.
The base trim BMW X3 PHEV has a starting MSRP of $49,600. With estimated state and Federal incentives of up to $7,636 (https://ev.pge.com/incentives), the starting cost can be reduced to as low as $42,000.
BMW has continually updated the vehicle to gain marketshare. For 2021, it comes with Android Auto and Smartphone integration and a one-year subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio. Standard as well is Live Cockpit Pro, which bundles together a 12.3” Digital Instrument Cluster and a larger 10.25” Central Information Display touchscreen. Live Cockpit Control provides more control, connectivity and customization than prior versions. The formerly optional Active Driving Assist package is also now standard.
The X3 has earned a 5-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the X3 its highest accolade of Top Safety Pic and it earned max scores in every major category. Standard X3 safety features include: anti-lock brakes which automatically dry the pads in wet weather and BMW Assist eCall emergency services, which include automatic crash notification and an emergency services request button. BMW’s Active Guard system with forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking at city speeds is now standard, as is Active Driving Assistant, which adds lane-departure warning and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. Active cruise control with stop and go and lane-keeping assistance is now optional.
Additional safety features include: ABS and Driveline Traction Control; DSC Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Roll Stability Control (RSC); Side Impact Beams; Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Seat-Mounted Side Airbags; Park Distance Control Front and Rear Parking Sensors; Frontal Collision Warning w/City Collision Mitigation; Tire Specific Low Tire Pressure Warning; Dual Stage Driver and Passenger Front Airbags; Curtain 1st and 2nd Row Airbags; Airbag Occupancy Sensors; Driver and Passenger Knee Airbags; Rear Child Safety Locks; Outboard Front Lap and Shoulder Safety Belts including Rear Center 3 Point Pretensioners; and a Back-Up Camera.
BMW’s warranties for their PHEVs are some of the best in the business. They completely cover a BMW plug-in’s 3-year lease period. These individual warranties include:
• 4 Basic Years / 50,000 Basic Miles
• 4 Drivetrain Years / 50,000 Drivetrain Miles
• 12 Corrosion Years / Unlimited Corrosion Miles
• 8 Hybrid/Electric Components Years / 80,000 Hybrid/Electric Components Miles
• 4 Roadside Assistance Years / Unlimited Roadside Assistance Miles
• 3 Maintenance Years / 36,000 Maintenance Miles
It will come as no surprise to X3 aficionados that an all-electric iX3 is being built at BMW’s Shenyang, China, Brilliance Automotive plant and will debut first in that country before coming to the United States. In 2019, BMW outsold Mercedes Benz and Audi, doing so by selling a total of 723,680 BMWs and MINI vehicles in China, alone. 120,000 of those cars were locally-produced X3s. Given its smaller battery and lower electrical range, the German car company is concerned the iX3 won’t be able to compete in the USA with its peer SUVs, which offer upwards of 250 miles of EPA e-range. Additionally, the iX3 will be a rear-wheel drive only, unfavorable to US customers, who generally prefer SUVs with 4-wheel drive. So for now, the iX3 won’t be landing on American shores.
BMW is perfectly content to promote its highly popular X3 and X3e PHEV in the USA for the time being. Based on past sales, customers will continue their love affair with the X3 family.