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BMW X3

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Comments

  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,071
    Background

    I am willing to bet you want an X3 sans manual transmission.

    We live in Cincinnati, too.

    The X3 3.0 with the current 5speed auto spends a lot of time hunting for the right gear here in the city of "7 hills." The mileage and performance of the auto version is lower than the stick shift version.

    This is both a realatively thirsty and dirty engine. It is, also, a very sweet engine to have underfoot.

    The 255HP 3.0 and the 6speed (and perhaps a hoped for 7 speed) automatic will improve every aspect of this car's power train -- especially if you are like the 99% who want automatics.

    To make the point: here in the city of 7 hills the 5 speed auto version is thirsty (below 20 around town easily) and somewhat unstatisfying if you like a car that feels nimble when you press on the accelerator.

    Our test drive experience was that every little press on the accelerator caused a downshift followed a few seconds later by an upshift followed by a down shift and so on.

    It needs a 6 speed transmission if you want the auto version. It is also peppier and more controllable with the stick shift, but I know I am more than likely speaking to an unreceptive audience.

    The upcoming X3 will have the new engine, the 6speed auto and a refreshed interior and one is led to believe an even more compliant ride tuning.

    This is a thirsty little dude.

    On the highway, it can and does, however, exceed 24.
  • Hi Mark!

    Thanks for the insight!

    So what is the best mileage you've ever gotten on it? (How far above 24)?

    Matt
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,071
    25-ish on the stretch of I-70 between Columbus Oh and Pittsburgh, Pa.

    All of what I have said must also be said to include:

    "we love our X3."

    We test drove the 3.0 and the 2.5 with the automatic over a period of days. They had ONE 3.0 6speed manual and we tried the back to back to back thing too -- theses were two different cars. Now, perhaps, had we used the step mode of the steptronic we would have come away with a different opinion. My wife will NOT use the manumatic in manu mode, plain and simple.

    This was a disappointment (to me) to think this great little SAV (little, being not an exactly correct sentiment) was brought to market with such a lame transmission (and the thing seems to sell well despite the fact.)

    This is a great car with the stick, tho!
  • driver100driver100 Burlington, ON 7 mo/Tampa FL 5 moPosts: 11,780
    This is a second car. Her 1998 pristine S500 has spoiled her rotton. The "Bismark" just floats along. Double insulated glass and heavy as a brinks truck the ride is very smooth on that Sedan.

    Please keep us posted on each car she tries out. It would be fun to know her impressions. If going the Avalon route, Lexus, Honda, Infinity or Accura might be worth a try.

    2012 535ix 2013 Audi A4 2013 Passat

  • bargamonbargamon Posts: 302
    Be more fun to take a video camera around and do a "virtual" show. Mom is a hoot and very set in her ways!

    She harkens back to the 1950's when "daddy" had an imperial or the best of buicks and Olds. Was "too showy" back then for a Caddy!

    The thought the RX330 was gonna be great because it was a "lexus"! She is a pure thru and thru with no shame a true "nameplate slut"!

    I am wondering if a ride in an X3 for grins and giggles migh do. Why? "BMW"! Current 2nd car is a 1993 Volvo v70 turbo sport wagon which she claims drives "like a truck"!

    She hated the Honda pilot, Tribeca, infiiti FX and forsome reason they (with dad) drove an Audi A4 wagon which they never got off the lot. Duh!
  • driver100driver100 Burlington, ON 7 mo/Tampa FL 5 moPosts: 11,780
    Current 2nd car is a 1993 Volvo v70 turbo sport wagon which she claims drives "like a truck"!

    Yeh, a video would be great. They should have a reality show...watching people test drive cars.

    Have to agree about Volvo's of that vintage being like a truck. Soon after 93 Ford bought them and really ruined them...our 95 had more problems than any car I have owned, had to get out of the lease early.
    I think you are narrowing it down.
    Keep us posted.

    2012 535ix 2013 Audi A4 2013 Passat

  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    Don't get me wrong, I'm not doubting what you say (since you speak from direct personal experience), but honestly, you're one of the very few, if not the only one, who rant relentlessly on the 5-sp steptronic on the X3. I know there are plenty who prefer the stick to the step, but you're the only one who seems to flat-out think the step is a piece of crap.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,071
    In this case, in this application, in our geography, the Emperor has no clothes.

    The only other people I know who have openly and repeatedly been critical of the 5 speed step (in the X3) are the sales people at the dealership, the service advisors at the dealership, the wash techs at the dealership, the finance manager at the dealership -- and the owner of the dealership.

    He and several of the staff members have or have had both versions. Of course while we were in the discussion process they said little. Once we decided, it is as if we had taken the "right path" and we were welcomed into the club with the secret handshake.

    Drive -- long long drive -- the auto and the manual back to back, carving up some twisties, going on both flat and varying grades at around town speeds and at somewhat extra legal speeds. The character of the two X3's is different -- this does NOT make the step bad. It does what it is told by the combination of software instructions and capabilities it has within this application.

    On the other hand, you are correct, both my wife and I grew further and further apart from the advancing trend toward auto transmissions over the past 10+ years.

    With so many German cars (mostly Audis, in full disclosure) "under our belts" we came to know and loathe a trait that became known as "tip" lag then "step" lag, etc.

    It seemed that once Porsche (?) started down the manu-matic path, all the Germans seemed hell-bent to adopt clutchless manuals (not in the SMG or DSG sense, of course) and lo and behold the suppliers of the auto transmissions for many German (and other) automakers brought forth one generation after another of transmissions programmed to upshift early and downshift late (with respect to the engine's torque sweet spot(s)) -- all over the blogs here and elsewhere there have been (for years and years) complaints (some from me, some were defended by me) about the "lag" of this family of transmissions.

    Troubleshooting articles in non mfgr publications (from Audi and BMW, to name two) decried the emasculation of some of the cars equipped with these new manumatics.

    The makers did respond by adding an "S" (for sport) mode to the something tronic transmissions essentially a computer program that upshifted a bit later (100's of RPM's later) and returned to lower gears at rolling stops a bit earlier. Lag was masked and minimized thusly.

    Improved torque and horsepower continued in a normal fashion but these "dreadful" (an overstatement for effect) transmissions soldiered on. Then ZF (as I recall) in concert with Mercedes, BMW, Audi -- all the above perhaps -- moved down the path of "more better" auto transmissions. More forward speeds, lighter and faster and smoother weight and shifting characteristics ensued. Mercedes is now at 7 speeds, Audi has made the switch to 6 speeds and BMW largely has too. The X3 and X5 were notable in retaining the best of the last (not as good) generation of autotransmissions.

    The X3 is thirsty. Add the auto trans and it is thirstier still -- improve the responsiveness of the auto equipped version and it is thirstier and dirtier.

    We are at the "time between the parenthesis" as a famous author once wrote.

    Today with the 3.0 225HP engine and the 5 speed tiptronic the X3 (IMHO) is neither as economical, spirited, clean running or fun as it will soon be with the updated 255HP engine and hopefully a 6 or more speed automatic and the retention of the 6speed manual.

    Frankly with an ever growing appreciation for my own 6 speed tiptronic and multiple test drives of cars from several mfrgs (especially BMW) that have the 6 speed transmissions, I think I will be a fan of the new X3 so equipped with the new 3.0 and the new 6spd step.

    Mercedes stands out with its 7 speed transmission, but it is a virtual certainty that Audi and BMW will soon follow with their own take on the conventional auto transmissions and their own approach to the direct shift automatics (DSG and SMG from Audi and BMW respectively.)

    In the mean time, my opinion, my preference -- with nothing against YOUR choice -- remains the 6speed manual (at least until the 6speed step becomes an option.)

    Most folks at this juncture will NOT EVEN TEST drive the stick shift equipped versions.

    I submit they don't even know what they're missing. But it is your money, after all.

    Drive it like you live -- but the Emperor, to repeat, really doesn't have any clothes on. :shades:
  • bargamonbargamon Posts: 302
    I did not take his comments as your car being "inferior", but that in his opinion, the manual is superior.

    I have yet to drive a Stick version of the X3 and I don't have issue with it. It was quick and did a great job.

    If your a fan of the manual, and having this sweet BMW engine you will naturally gravitate to wanting control over it.

    To me, Mark states that the X3 is really nice but in Manual form its even better!
  • driver100driver100 Burlington, ON 7 mo/Tampa FL 5 moPosts: 11,780
    Most folks at this juncture will NOT EVEN TEST drive the stick shift equipped versions.

    I submit they don't even know what they're missing. But it is your money, after all.


    I have to agree with bodble2 on this one. I would love to have a stick shift, but it would make no sense for me with my driving patterns. Stick or auto....really depends on what suits you. I enjoy your comments Mark and your enthusiasm for the X3 and I wish that a stick would make sense for me....but I enjoy having an automatic. I think it changes gears a little more than necessary but I chalk it up to it's intelligence in seeking out the exact right gears.
    I find the X3 automatic is the ideal vehicle for me, and I don't think the idea that it is a totally inferior car because it is automatic is a fair comment. Also, applies to the fact I have a 2.5 by the way. I don't need a 3 litre and don't think it was worth an extra $4,000 to me!
    For some people a Malibu might suit them fine. Good basic transportation at a fair price. Not a whole lot of fun...but you have to allow for what actually suits the purchaser, not individual tastes.

    2012 535ix 2013 Audi A4 2013 Passat

  • davidc1davidc1 Posts: 167
    I've been a manual driver for most of my life and got an automatic recently. The "fun" disappears when you spend a lot of time in a stop-and-go traffic. I would agree that X3 manual would be more fun. But I plan to get an X3 automatic for my wife when the lease on her Lexus expires (hopefully it will have the new engine and six speed auto). She went from a 3series wagon to Lexus SUV and would very much like to come back to BMW driving experience. Anyway, I felt that the steptronic on her 3 series was better than 90% of other automatics. I wouldn't mind it at all. It downshifted very well. Most of the automatics are very reluctant to downshift. Regarding BMW manuals, I had a six speed on my 3 series and thought that it could use some improvement (clutch engagement, shifter action, sixth gear too tall, etc..). It was better than Saab/Volvo/Toyota manuals but I still think that Honda makes the best manuals.
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    As a confirmed track rat/driving instructor, I tend to prefer a manual transmission. Having said all that, our X3 serves as my wife's all-weather work truck and she prefers an autobox for her mostly urban commute. You also need to remember that the five speed auto is adaptive and it will soon conform to your driving style. After six months of ownership my only complaint is that the box tends to downshift a bit early on moderate to steep inclines, and that problem is easily remedied by sticking the box in manual mode fifth gear. In any event, My wife loves her truck, so all is well with the world. As for me, I much prefer a light-under 3000 lbs.-and nimble buzz bomb, so I get my driving/riding fix from my Club Sport and my Speed Triple. Until the right M1 comes along... :D
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,071
    . . .virtually all of what virtually all of us write here is an opinion or develops a conclusion from some facts.

    The X3 is a keeper. My wife loves it, I love it -- and I would not ban it from our garage if for some reason "poof" it became steptronic equipped overnight.

    I am concerned about the advancing, er, paucity of manual transmission equipped cars. If you share this concern, it warms my heart ("misery loves company.")

    Yet, I am evolving, I do "mostly" like my 6 speed Tiptronic, even though at this exact moment in time, I would -- all things being more or less equal -- not even pause if offered the chance to swap my A6 3.2 for a stick shift equipped 530xi.

    Driving this past weekend in my A6 with the auto and two weeks ago in my wife's X3 with the 6 speed, I can attest to really enjoying the "set and forget" ability the 6speed auto offered.

    I did wonder though, if I would feel the opposite if the BMW had had just a smidge more HP and torque with the stick shift. The 225HP engine seems to lug once it gets below 2000 RPM while driving on the foot hills of WV and PA.

    I can, that is, see both sides.

    The primary issue with the X3 with the stick is its programming -- the darn thing is constantly up and downshifting here in the City of 7 Hills, Cincinnati. And, this is true with either the 2.5 or the 3.0. The transmission has a slight case of the stutters, IN MY OPINION (although this is a bit more objective than many of the comments we all tend to write here.)

    The X3, at least as far as we're concerned, is darn near a LSAV, at least optioned and decked out as we have ours. We have signed up for the two-day X training in Spartanburg this September 8th, in fact.

    We are planning our next X3 already.

    My pleas, my attempts perhaps to proselytize are somewhat to a lot a "lament" since many folks admit to not even test driving (and dealers don't stock them to allow this) this "secret" car.
    :shades:
  • driver100driver100 Burlington, ON 7 mo/Tampa FL 5 moPosts: 11,780
    I did not take his comments as your car being "inferior", but that in his opinion, the manual is superior.

    You could be right, and maybe I am being over sensitive.

    No sticks? Pity. This thing is a blast with a stick and "challenged" with the 5speed stutter tronic.(Mark #2644).


    Like I said, I enjoy Mark's comments and his enthusiasm. However, I would like to point out some of us might like our automatics just fine. IMO Mark's writing, which is always enjoyable and knowledgeable...would be even better if it would just say...I prefer the stick because.....
    (no need to make a negative comment about someone else's preference unless it is using some factual information to back it up). It would take his comments, which are always interesting, informative, entertaining and certainly welcome, to a higher level.

    2012 535ix 2013 Audi A4 2013 Passat

  • What is X-training!?
  • A few posts ago, someone mentioned that he didn't "need" a 3.0. Other than the cost, is there any advantage to having the 2.5? Is it quieter? Smaller? More efficient?
  • driver100driver100 Burlington, ON 7 mo/Tampa FL 5 moPosts: 11,780
    A few posts ago, someone mentioned that he didn't "need" a 3.0. Other than the cost, is there any advantage to having the 2.5? Is it quieter? Smaller? More efficient?
    That was probably me. When I test drove the X3 I actually tried the 3 litre. It was incredible to drive and is certainly money well spent if the enhanced performance is important to you. For me, I was coming from a few Jeeps, and this was my first "enjoyable" car in a long time, so for me the performance of the 2.5 is more than sufficient for my needs. Also, I drive about 15 minutes to work, and don't do too much travel by car, so am really content with the 2.5. Now, if the car was a big part of my day, commuting, going on long trips, or if I really enjoyed the thrill of the extra performance I would say go for the 3...it is certainly the way to go if you can use it or if it is important to you.
    A little extra information here: One major reason for getting the X3 was because of the safety advantage. The all wheel drive, skid control makes it virtually impossible to skid. I believe the car has saved us from at least one serious accident. I was in the passing lane going about 60 MPH when a mini van swerved into my lane. The superior braking and steering and 4 wheel drive made it possible to swerve and not go out of control. I think the outcome would be different if I had the Jeep. I get the feeling safety is very important to certain car companies, with Volvo, BMW and Mercedes and possibly Toyota and Honda in there spending money to make their cars as safe as possible.

    I'm not sure if the 2.5 is still available, but I would try them both next time before I buy my next X3. Having such a wonderful handling car with such a lively little engine would have made the 3 a bit overwhelming for me...but I might be ready for it next time.

    2012 535ix 2013 Audi A4 2013 Passat

  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,071
    Moot point, it is no longer available.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,071
    X-training is what BMW offers in two X-schools, a one day or a two day school:

    "Your morning starts with a classroom session on vehicle dynamics, with instruction on hand and seat positioning. After this class, you’ll get behind the wheel and take the slalom course, for a valuable lesson in the concept of balance and cornering transition.

    In the afternoon, you’ll test your skills in wet braking and turning on the BMW Performance Driving Course, a one-of-a-kind track that can be configured 35 ways to simulate real world driving situations. Following this, you’ll learn how to get the most from your vehicle with BMW’s Handling and Performance course where you’ll develop valuable skills in maneuvering. The next session puts you on a course in skid control – where you’ll learn the prevention and correction for handling situations like oversteering and understeering.

    Next, you’ll take a lane change exercise in accident avoidance and round up your day with off-road driving exercises that include navigating water crossings, steep side slopes, steep approach, departure angles and hill decent control.

    On day two of X School, you’ll test-drive all the skills you learned the day before. Your day starts with a morning street drive to Hickory Nut Falls at Chimney Rock Park, where you’ll proceed with a 9.6 mile off-road drive and use the knowledge and skill you acquired the day before as you navigate mountain trails to the top of the falls. In the afternoon, you’ll have lunch and get a tour of Chimney Rock before returning to a street drive.

    The Two-Day X School price is $995 for two drivers sharing a vehicle, but additional people can be added at $100 each, up to a total of four people. The 3rd and 4th persons will not be allowed to drive. Please call to register your guest or add a 3rd or 4th person.

    Cost: $995"


  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    It is in Canada! :P :shades:
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,071
    It is, I recall, also available in TDI form elsewhere.

    At this time, in the US, only the 3.0 gas version is offered.
  • bargamonbargamon Posts: 302
    My son is going to go to Bmw teen school. Me and my brother will either do the X-school or the performance school.

    Might depend on the car I get!

    Freaking A6 lease speacials start at $499 for a premium package car. Not bad. I can be bought. Even if I lose the stick!

    Yes, a 530iX would be great!
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    You might want to look into the various schools conducted by BMW CCA.
    Disclaimer: I'm a CCA Safety and Driving School instructor ;)
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,071
    I have participated in four Audi schools in Germany and Austria since 1998.

    The Audi schools were 2.5 days, were literally on ice and two people per car with an in-car radio and instructors talking to you as they watched you from outside.

    These schools are incredible.

    I have nothing against any non mfgr school, don't get me wrong.

    The quote I copied and pasted in a prior blog was from BMWUSA -- the schools are, relatively speaking, inexpensive and I am confident will be a blast and a learning experience.

    Plus in September, perhaps the cars will be 2007's. With the Audi schools we always got "the next" cars that were coming to the US -- perhaps since the X5 is MADE in the US, this won't be the case, perhaps it will.

    In any case: can't wait! :surprise:
  • WHERE IS IT AVAILABLE IN TDI FORM!? That would be amazing! I bet importing it would be a major hassle, though...
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    The BMW Performance Center instructors are quite good, based on my experience with them at the 1998 Spartanburg M Celebration as well as the X5 4.6is NA press intro. That said, a glance at the BMW CCA Driving Events Calendar shows over forty different schools being offered in the US, Canada, and the Nurburgring(!). You'll get individual in-car instuction, lots of seat and classroom time- and you'll possibly get to lap such famous venues as Elkhart Lake, Road Atlanta, Sebring, and Watkins Glen. BMW CCA driving events complement rather than compete with the training offered by BMW NA.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,071
    It can be had in Europe with two diesel choices.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,174
    "Compared to BMW's X3, the RDX is almost identical in length, width and height. The main variation on the spec sheet is that the RDX has about a 6-inch-shorter wheelbase and wider front and rear tracks."

    First Drive: 2007 Acura RDX (Inside Line)

    Steve, Host

    Moderator
    Need help navigating? stever@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • driver100driver100 Burlington, ON 7 mo/Tampa FL 5 moPosts: 11,780
    "Compared to BMW's X3, the RDX is almost identical in length, width and height.

    Blah, blah, blau.
    Looks like a Montero or FX.
    Like some giant flattenned it with his foot.
    They can try to copy, but you can't match European style and engineering (though I am sure it will be dependable).

    The MDX is the same. Competent, non offensive style, sensible. No passion, no emotion...bland.

    I'll consider it if I ever have big problems with my X3, though there are other vehicles higher on my list.

    2012 535ix 2013 Audi A4 2013 Passat

  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    Maybe you should reserve final judgement until you've driven it. The photos don't blow me away either, but I plan to test drive it to see if it is more than just a mini-MDX.
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