2022 BMW X3 complements the active lifestyle

Americans tend to overbuy their cars. Anyone south of St. Louis probably doesn’t need all-wheel drive, and yet it’s wildly popular. The space of the SUV itself is seldom needed versus the trunk of a sedan. Anything over 150 hp isn’t necessary to keep up with traffic, but more power is always better. We want what we want. I say live and let live and buy and let buy.

I recently put the all-wheel-drive 2022 BMW X3 xDrive30i to the test the way it was meant to be used: by filling it up and using its capability. I took advantage of its space, power, and all-wheel drive for a Colorado ski trip. Those traits aren’t always required, but they sure were nice to have when I needed them.

Here’s how the X3 hit and missed when fulfilling the mission it was built for.

2022 BMW X3

2022 BMW X3

2022 BMW X3

2022 BMW X3

2022 BMW X3

2022 BMW X3

Hit: Strong turbo-4

The X3’s base engine is a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that BMW officially rates at 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque but likely has more power. I don’t know what magic BMW sprinkles on its turbo-4, but it’s the best one on the market despite lower official power ratings than similar engines from brands ranging from Chevrolet to Hyundai to Mercedes-Benz. It launches the X3 from 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds, according to BMW. Even at altitude, the little turbo that could smoothly delivered strong power for passing and for climbing mountain grades. A premium vehicle should have a premium engine, and while some 2.0-liter turbo-4s don’t qualify, this one certainly does.

2022 BMW X3

2022 BMW X3

Hit: Smooth ride

On its standard 18-inch wheels and 225/60 all-season tires, the X3 offers a plusher ride I;d associate with BMWs of the early 2000s. That makes it quite a comfortable road-tripper, and a pleasant way to drive into the mountains. It still has a semi-sporty feel, but packages and sportier models trade away some of that comfort for superior handling. The X3 M Competition I had the week before flipped the ride and handling script on the X3 due in part to the M Competition’s standard adaptive M suspension, 21-inch wheels, and low-profile tires. It proved too firm for everyday comfort in a Wisconsin winter, but it has the chops to tackle a racetrack all summer long. For everyday use, I’d settle in somewhere in the middle, opting for the additional control of the xDrive30i’s available $1,495 Dynamic Handling package with its adjustable dampers, variable steering ratios, and larger M Sport brakes.

2022 BMW X3

2022 BMW X3

Miss: Lacks small-items storage

Put two guys and their phones, sunglasses, hats, gloves, and snacks in a vehicle for a road trip, and the center console is going to get messy. The X3’s center console didn’t help alleviate any of the clutter. The X3 was last redesigned for the 2018 model year, and center consoles have evolved since then to include wireless smartphone charging pads and/or other accommodations for drivers’ phones. This X3 could use the charging pad as well as a tray or bin to store small items. 

2022 BMW X3

2022 BMW X3

Hit: Good cargo space

The X3 carried two guys and our luggage, skis, and boot bags with room to spare. A third could have been added to the mix, but probably not a fourth due to the need to fold down one side of the 60/40-split second row to accommodate skis. This is the active lifestyle SUVs are meant to serve, and it gives credence to BMW’s term: Sport Activity Vehicle.

Even among compact luxury SUVs, the X3 has good space, with 28.7 cubic feet behind the second row and 62.7 cubic feet behind the first row. By comparison, the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class has 19.4 and 56.5 cubic feet, respectively, and the Audi Q5 has 25.9 and 56.5 cubic feet.

BMW gesture control

BMW gesture control

Hit and Miss: Gesture control

BMW’s gesture control is a pretty cool party trick to impress your friends with new-fangled technology. It’s useful when you want to use it to increase the volume, but it can react to gestures you didn’t intend for it to read. I must have muted the radio a half dozen times when making gestures while talking to my passenger. That’s just annoying.

The X3 was the ideal vehicle for a ski trip in the mountains. It had the space, all-wheel drive, and power needed for the mission, while also offering the sporty character that’s the hallmark of the brand. It could use a few updates for today’s tech-connected buyer, but it justifies the idea of the crossover SUV for those with an active lifestyle.

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2022 BMW X3 xDrive30i

Base price: $46,695, including destination

Price as tested: $51,390

Powertrain: 248-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4, 8-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

EPA fuel economy: 21/28/24 mpg

The hits: The turbo-4, the ride, interior space

The misses: Small-items storage, gesture control

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