The BMW X3 has grown up!

The 2020 BMW X3 versus 2000 BMW X5

I will admit from the start, it has been a while since I have driven a BMW X3. I haven’t seen one in the press fleet down here in Florida in a long time. However, I was recently in Michigan for a week to escape the Florida summer heat and get some seat time in the X3… aka the baby X5.

The third generation feels much more substantial than previous generations. This time around the X3 felt more like the original X5, in terms of size, performance, and creature comforts…

Size & Weight

The 2000 BMW X5 weighed in at 4,800 pounds, and was 184″ long and 74″ wide. It was a trend setter in the SUV arena, because it was one of the first performance oriented SUVs – it could actually hug corners. In comparison, the 2020 BMW X3 weighs in at 3,900 pounds, and it is 2 inches larger and 1/2 an inch wider than the 1st generation X5. The increased size translates into a similar cabin space for occupants and more cargo room. The X3’s weight savings despite its proportion is thank to 20 years of BMW R&D into aluminum and other modern materials.

Performance & Driving Experience

Although the latest generation X3 is bigger than the first generation X5, the base X3 engine is less than 1/2 the size of the top-of-the-line X5 of the era. The original BMW X5 optionally packed a 4.4L V8 producing 282 horsepower and 324 torque. Where as the 2020 BMW X3 comes standard with a 2L twin-turbo inline 4-cylinder that pumps out 248 horsepower and 258 torque. The 2020 X3 doesn’t have a mighty V8, but it accelerates blistering fast in comparison due to the X3’s 8-speed automatic gearbox and weight savings: X3 0-60mph in 6.0 seconds, versus X5 0-60mph in 7.4 seconds. In terms of hugging corners though, this is where the old girl shines. The original X5, while heavy, was impressive in country roads. Here was an SUV that could haul things, go over (small) rocks, and put a smile on your face when cruising on a country road – you could almost loose yourself and pretend you were driving a sports car. The X3 on the other hand felt soft when cornering. The 2020 BMW X3 still has BMW’s famed near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution. But for whatever reason, the vehicle did not instill driver confidence when entering a corner… I didn’t feel one with the road. That is likely because BMW focused more on the people who actually purchase small BMW vehicles, soccer moms and middle managers. They want a car that is stylish and comfortable for their daily commutes.

Luxury & Comfort

The 2020 BMW X3 that I tested was dressed to the nines. It was the luxury trim level with nearly option. This means a beautiful interior paired with the latest technology. The seats, steering wheel, armrests were wrapped in smooth, soft leather. The seats were also heated and cooled. And, they were complimented using both real aluminum and oak wood throughout the cabin.

Visual technology on the 2020 BMW X3 includes a heads up display and wireless Apple CarPlay. If you are not familiar with CarPlay, it allows you to project your iPhone’s screen on the infotainment center in the car. But what is unique about BMW’s CarPlay system is that BMW is the only manufacture to offer wireless CarPlay; that means you leave your phone in your pocket and still use CarPlay. Mercedes, Porsche, Jaguar, Audi and etcetera require you to plug in your phone every time. Non-visual technology, i.e. technology that you can feel, but not necessary feel included blind spot detection and lane-keep assist. The later will keep the vehicle its proper lane without you turning the wheel when adaptive cruise control is on – you still have to hold the wheel of course.

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the luxury and comfort of the 2000 BMW X5. It has leather seats and wood trim. And you can forget about the all of the other technology goodies.

Price

The top-of-the-line BMW X5 in 2000 would set you back around $58,000. That is $85,000 in today’s currency if you count for inflation. Where as a top-of-the-line BMW X3 with the 2.0L engine will cost around $52,000. But now we are comparing Apples to Oranges, because comparing the price between an entry-level luxury SUV/crossover (X3) and BMW’s flagship SUV (X5) isn’t fair.

Who Should Buy The BMW X3?

So there you have it, the 2020 BMW X3 is better than the 2000 BMW X5 in every way (accept raw emotion). It is bigger, faster, and more luxurious – It is amazing what 20 years of German engineering will do. But I am guessing that very few of you are actually reading this and thinking “I should trade in my first generation BMW X5 and buy the latest X3.”

The 2020 BMW X3 is perfect for those who want a comfortable and luxurious SUV, but don’t necessarily want the girth of the latest BMW X5, which is significantly bigger in size. The X3’s size makes it a great choice for urbanites with an active lifestyle or new families, because it is easy to park and their is ample cargo room. And since you can have a fully optioned 2020 BMW X3 for less than the cost of a base 2020 BMW X5, that means you will have extra $,$$$ to spend on exploring the great outdoors (or the baby).