BMW X3 2011 – 2021

2011 BMW X3

BMW calls its X3 is an SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle) rather than an SUV (Sports Utility 
Vehicle) because the German maker realises that most people are looking for a 
practical station wagon not a bush bashing off-road beast. 
So, the suspension engineers have gone for handling and comfort. While not really in 
the BMW 3 Series class in its on-road behaviour it’s impressive the way it handles. It 
also provides the good feedback that keen drivers love.
The BMW X3, was one of the early players in the field and reached us Downunder in 
July 2004. The second generation X3 that was sold from March 2011 is significantly 
larger than the model it replaced. Indeed, it’s within a few centimetres of the first-
generation BMW X5.
The X3 received a major upgrade in July 2014. One of its biggest features in this 
upgrade is the sophisticated BMW Connected Drive system.
Luggage space is pretty good and the area is well shaped and easy to load.
The 3rd generation BMW X3 arrived here midway through 2018. The bonnet, front 
guards, and front doors are aluminium to keep weight down and performance up. 
Interestingly its body was shaped by Australian Calvin Luk one of BMW’s highly 
regarded stylists.
Significant attention was given to the underbody of this latest generation X3 with wind 
deflectors to alter the flow around the suspension.

2015 BMW X3

There’s slightly more space inside than in the superseded X3 and it can carry four 
adults with little need to compromise on legroom. BMW’s attention to detail was in 
practical ways, one-litre bottles can be carried in the front door pockets and there are 
numerous other stowage areas for smartphones and the like.
Four and six-cylinder engines are offered in petrol and diesel format. BMW has long 
been a specialist in turbocharged engines and both the petrol and diesel units work 
well. There’s some turbo lag, but it’s less with each new model.
Once the turbocharger is doing its thing the engines are beautifully responsive, making 
them feel ‘very BMW’ and much loved by those who are longtime BMW drivers.
Though the diesels are the more economical we do have a preference for turbo-petrol 
engines as they just love to rev, whereas the diesels start to fade in the mid to high 

2021 BMW X3

Even better are the naturally aspirated straights sixes – one of our all-time favourite 
powerplants. These are offered in 2.5 and 3.0-litre capacity.
Automatic transmissions have eight forward gears in the all-new 2011. There are 
manual overrides that give you a fair bit of control, but increasingly we find that these 
automatics almost seem to read our minds.
BMW is long established in Australia and has a well organised dealer network. As you 
would expect they are chiefly in the major metro areas but there is an increasing 
number in country cities and large country towns.
Spare parts are relatively expensive, but no more so than others in this class. We 
seldom hear of any l complaints about availability.
We’ve met several ex-BMW mechanics who are now working in private practice and 
owners speak highly of them. Some may not have access to the very latest information 
on changes to the X3.
Insurance costs aren’t low, but it’s worth shopping around. As always, we caution you 
to make sure you’re doing an accurate comparison. Keep in mind that a long-term 
relationship with one company can be very handy if a doubtful claim incident arises.
The BMW X3 is generally trouble free, but it makes sense to buy a used one with a full-
service history.
The use of incorrect tyres can cause problems with the transfer case due to incorrect 
rolling radii. Make a note of the details of tyres then contact BMW for a list of 
recommended tyres.
If you suspect one has been off the beaten track examine the bumper corners, doors 
sills and undertray for damage – or choose an X3 that hasn’t been beating about the 
Make sure a petrol engine starts almost instantly, or a diesel within a couple of 
seconds. Slow starting can indicate real problems.
An inspection of the condition of the cabin and load area of the BMW X3 will show if it 
has been knocked around. If it has this can be a signal that previous owners haven’t 
looked after it correctly, and possibly not had the servicing done on time.
Budget on paying from $11,000 to $16,000 for a 2011 BMW X3 xDrive 20i; $13,000 to 
$18,000 for a 2013 xDrive 20d; $16,000 to $23,000 for a 2014 xDrive 20i; $19,000 to 
$28,000 for a 2014 xDrive 30d; $22,000 to $31,000 for a 2015 xDrive 28i; $28,000 to 
$38,000 for a 2017 xDrive 20i; $36,000 to $48,000 for a 2018 sDrive 20i; $45,000 to 
$60,000 for a 2019 xDrive 30d; and $54,000 to 71,000 for a 2021 xDrive 20d M Sport.
Start looking at adverts for used vehicles several months before you intend buying. 
That way you can see the prices being asked and whether they are rising and falling as 
dealers need to clear stock due to overcrowding. 
RECALLS: To browse recalls on all vehicles go to the ACCC at:

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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