• jasonericbell

Review: 2022 BMW X3 xDrive30i - Carrying on the legacy in unexpected ways.

When I was handed the keys to the new 2022 BMW X3 xDrive 30i, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It had been a while since I had driven a BMW, and I had heard whispers that BMW was becoming distanced from its “ultimate driving machine” mantra — even with some of its performance-focused “M” cars.


Admittedly, I was skeptical. If BMW had indeed lost their way, I had little hope of an exciting time with the ever-popular X3.


I’m not sure how those rumors align with the rest of BMW’s lineup, but I am happy to report that the refreshed for 2022 X3 is a fun-to-drive example of what BMW does best. If my 2005 E46 M3 had this transmission instead of its SMG, I would still have that car today. It’s just so zippy and smooth, the X3 was a great SUV to drive, no matter my mood.



Pricing and Trims


Pricing for the 2022 BMW X3 starts at $45,700 for the all-wheel-drive xDrive30i, $57,800 for the M40i, and $69,900 for the X3 M. I enjoyed my time with the xDrive30i and found the performance to be enough for most buyers. The enthusiast in me would stretch for the M40i, which gets you an extra two cylinders and 140 horsepower.


The BMW xDrive30i is a great value if driving fun is a priority. I questioned the absence of some features given the price point, but the trade-off is BMW’s signature driving dynamics absent in other, more feature-rich competitors.



Performance


BMW’s pursuit in building the “ultimate driving machine” is happily evident in the X3 xDrive30i (and presumably even more so in the racy M40i and M models). The standard four-cylinder engine is punchy and silky smooth, even (especially?) when driven hard in manual mode. This must-be-underrated engine is mated to an excellent eight-speed automatic transmission that shifts quickly and smoothly. Kudos to BMW for tuning such a wonderful pairing.


For the driver looking for a practical, efficient, luxurious, and comfortable SUV with fun-to-drive dynamics, the X3 is a great choice, especially as it achieves nearly 30 miles per gallon.


Acceleration and Handling


Acceleration and handling are highlights for the X3. Producing 248 horsepower and 258-pound feet of torque, the X3 handles curves and corners more like its 3-series sibling than a conservative, compact SUV. The ride is well balanced — not too firm, not too soft. The suspension and steering give the driver a connected feeling, inspiring confidence in its athletic agility.


BMW’s excellent xDrive all-wheel-drive system handled snowy roads well and transferred power where it needed to be to maintain traction and control.


The only strange aspect of driving the X3 is the brakes. The X3 has strong brakes when pushed hard, but they are a bit sensitive and hard to modulate in the first quarter of travel.



Interior


The X3’s stylish interior is exactly what you would hope for from BMW. Comfortable, open, and superb fit and finish are evident. The seats are the standout. BMW has always made some of the best seats in the industry, and the sport seats in the X3 are no exception. The seats alone could be enough to place the X3 ahead of its competitors and are supple, supportive, and “just right” for any driving scenario. This X3 had “Canberra Beige” perforated SensaTec seats (I didn’t miss genuine leather) that paired nicely with the blacks, browns, and metals in the rest of the interior. My only complaint is I wish the seat warmers got hotter.


If you’re one to haul children, I can report that two children in car seats in the back had plenty of legroom with their 5 foot 9-inch parents sitting in front of them. There was also plenty of cargo room for all the typical kid's stuff in the cargo area, as well as a larger-than-usual Costco run.



Infotainment


If I have a major complaint about the otherwise welcoming nature of the X3, it’s the usability of the infotainment system. While the touchscreen looks great on its crystal-clear 10.3-inch display, I did not find it very intuitive. Gesture control was a fun gimmick for about 10 minutes and then I forgot about it. The stereo sounds great, though, with nice clarity and deep bass coming from its 205-watt amplifier and 12 speakers.


Exterior


BMW has made some controversial styling choices recently, but I am pleased to announce that the X3’s 2022 refresh has only improved its appearance in ways that is sportier and younger-looking than before. The grille, headlights, vents, taillights, and exhaust pipes have been updated. In short, the X3 looks how it drives: composed, luxurious and athletic — especially if you spring for the more aggressive M Sport package.


This X3 sported Tanzanite Blue, a $1,500 color option, which looked especially sharp in the sun, reflecting flecks of bright blue amidst the navy hues. Though in the shade it only looked like a typical navy blue.



Final Impressions


The BMW X3 is a great choice for someone shopping for a “just-right” sized, luxurious, German SUV that is more fun to drive than some of its competitors.


Highs:

  • Punchy and responsive drivetrain.

  • Supple suspension and nice driving dynamics.

  • Comfortable, bright interior with excellent seats.

  • Easy to drive and a great all-around daily driver.

Lows:

  • Infotainment system learning curve.

  • Heated seats could be warmer.

  • $4,700 for the M Sport package.

Consensus:


If a capable, practical, fun SUV is what you’re after, the X3 xDrive30i won’t disappoint. If you want a more aggressive appearance the M Sport package might be worth it. If you want more power, the M40i and X3 M are available, but those start at a minimum of $12,000 more than the xDrive30i. Whether that extra power and performance are worth it is up to you.


Thank you to BMW of North America for the experience!


About the author: Having owned everything from a 1981 DeLorean to an E46 BMW M3, and a 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser, Jason Bell is a lifelong car enthusiast who loves sharing his passions as a teacher, freelance automotive journalist, speaker, and social media manager. Contact him at jasonbellcars@gmail.com or jasonbellcars.com for comments/questions.


The views and opinions expressed here are my own and may not align with the founders of Everyday Driver.


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