The 2021 BMW x3 debuted way back in 2003, and the compact midsize luxury Sport Activity Vehicle is currently in its third generation of production. (The resultant ‘SAV’ designation is the preferred lingo utilized by the German automaker, as compared to the more popular and ubiquitous ‘SUV’ appellation.)
The x3 was initially panned for its high price and overly sporty suspension that resulted in a jarring ride, among other observed warts, some so egregious as to be laughable and indeed worthy of the mockery received. For instance, even the most basic of vehicles at the time featured an ‘open door’ indicator, and yet the very first run of the luxury x3 did not.
Not unexpectedly, sales cratered within a few years, rendering the once promising model an undeniable failure in the making. However, as these issues have been systematically and more effectively addressed, US sales have climbed steadily, reaching a high point of 70,110 units in 2019. Given this success, the 2021 BMW x3 will certainly have a very high benchmark to aim for.
In pursuit of this goal, BMW has continued to smooth out any vestigial rough edges and glaring oversights that damaged the first generation x3’s reputation and severely hindered its sales figures, all while ensuring that new and impressive features are integrated at a rate befitting a luxury vehicle with a projected base MSRP of almost $42,000.
Some of the updates that are expected to be rolled out with the 2021 BMW x3 include, the newest in LED tech for both headlights and brake lights, wider rear glass, improved cargo room, and, most significantly, the debut of a fully electric version, namely the ix3. (The ix3 goes a step above and beyond the plug-in hybrid x3 that was just introduced for 2020, amply reflecting BMW’s commitment to bring more environmentally friendly options to market.)
Important preliminary specs for the ix3 include a price in the $60,000 to $70,000 range, more standard safety features, and a battery range of about 220 miles. The rollout of the standard x3 will likely precede that of the ix3, while the sportiest of the lot, the M variant, will also still be available (for those more interested in burning rubber than saving the polar bears).
The compact luxury SUV segment is replete with any number of eminently capable entrants, all mixing some level of sportiness with varying degrees of opulence and new world tech. Despite this hyper-competitive milieu, the BMW x3 has managed, by most accounts, to not simply survive but indeed thrive. In fact, the x3 is the German automaker’s best selling model in the US market, a very noteworthy distinction given the large number of vehicles it sells every year across the country (and the presence of its afore-mentioned adversaries from the other manufacturers).
Whereas some competitors are more affordable, have more horsepower, or boast greater cargo capacity, for example, the BMW proves to be the best of all worlds, possessing just the right combination of attributes: just enough of this plus a sufficient amount of that, a heaping helping of fun/sportiness, all glazed with appreciable luxury and undeniable brand awareness, all resulting in a category winner.
2021 BMW x3 Competitors
The Infiniti QX50, Lexus NX, Mercedes-Benz GLC, and Audi Q5 can all be counted among the x3’s competitors. All are well regarded to be sure, and each has its adherents, the marketplace seemingly typically sorting through the offerings based largely on brand loyalty and of course, the not inconsequential factor of price. Rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations and a generally greater leaning towards ‘sporty driving’ mark the x3 as the best in that regard, while the Lexus, for example, is more renowned for reliability and lower maintenance costs. The Infiniti, on the other hand, offers greater horsepower as well as a more spacious interior, vis a vis the BMW, in addition to a better 6 year/70,000 mile powertrain warranty (versus the x3’s 4 year/50,000 mile).
2021 BMW x3 Safety Options
Backup camera, ABS, and brake assist are all standard x3 amenities, and help garner a five star NHTSA crash test rating for the sporty German compact.
2021 BMW x3 Fuel Economy
The standard base model x3 has fuel economy ratings of 25 miles (city) and 29 miles (highway), with a fuel capacity of 17.2 gallons.
A 12-speaker premium sound system, bucket seats, and a navigation system are all available in the x3, along with power driver and passenger seats. Despite the sportier-than-the-rest focus, the x3, particularly the higher end variations, are luxuriously appointed. (BMW’s known penchant for excessive gadgetry and ubiquitous buttons and switches has seemingly been reigned in a bit over time, if not entirely so.)
The exterior styling of the x3 presents the vehicle as exactly what it is, and as such, it is essentially very much a wolf in wolf’s clothing- it is shamelessly sporty and its lines reflect this fact. Needless to say, beauty is most definitely in the eye of the beholder, and yet it would probably be quite difficult to find too many people who would take a negative view of the swoopy lines and stylish ‘kidney’ grill highlighted fascia. (Optional 20-inch wheels are also available should one choose to further heighten the ‘cooler-than-you’ looks as well as perhaps inspire additional envy among the masses.)
Cruise control, multi-zone A/C, and seat memory presets are all available as standard features in the x3, providing a commendable level of comfort. A head-up display and cooled/heated seats are also available as comfort-enhancing options.
Engine options for the x3 include a 2.0 four-cylinder, normally aspirated engine, as well as hybrid and fully electric power plants. (The latter will become available with the 2021 model year.)
BMW’s have earned a reputation for being more than a bit finicky and temperamental, resulting in inordinately high maintenance costs, particularly as compared to its counterparts such as Lexus and Infiniti. However, the x3 is generally considered to be quite reliable, accruing average maintenance costs of approximately $1,100 per year.
The x3 is most simply defined as a five-passenger luxury compact SUV, one that emphasizes performance as much as it does opulence. It is known for its powerful engine options and great handling, as well as pricing that can be a bit off-putting to some.
Price & Release Date
The 2021 x3 is expected to be released in the third quarter of 2020, and will have an estimated base price of approximately $42,000. Hybrid, fully electric, and M variants will undoubtedly cost more, pushing the price tag closer to $80,000.
What do you think of the 2021 BMW x3? Are you excited about the EV version?