Each year, Consumer Reports reveals its 2013 Top Picks for…
It’s been a few weeks since “Mr. Car Chic” and I picked up our new 2013 BMW X3 xDrive35i, just days off of the production line in Spartanburg, SC. We already had a weekend away planned prior to taking delivery, and we couldn’t wait to get the X3 out on the open road.
One Saturday in late April, we ventured into Virginia wine country to celebrate our wedding anniversary. It goes without saying that this celebration quickly became partly about our new car. You see, my husband has remained content with his 2003 Honda Accord for the last six years. He was forced to watch me enjoy a new car that we bought in 2007 (also a Honda).
Before settling on the X3, we had seriously considered the Volkswagen Tiguan, but Mark wanted to test out the X3 just to see what it was like. I warned him that once he got behind the wheel of ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’ he would never look back. I was right.
We set out on I-66 West around lunchtime. Our final destination of Washington, Virginia, is where we would enjoy a fine dining experience at the Inn at Little Washington. We bartered over who would drive. I won because I take the metro to work each day, and he had been spending ample time with the car since we got it.
Some people say that separate bathrooms or two TVs are needed to maintain a happy marriage. But I’m pretty sure it’s having two memory settings for the driver’s seat.
I easily became situated into the refined cockpit of the X3. Visibility was clear from all angles, and blind spots minimalized thanks to the almost oversized side-view mirrors. Side note: I’ve found that with lower roofs, higher beltlines, tiny back windows and wider A-pillars to accommodate front airbags, visibility has become the sacrificial lamb of car manufacturing in recent years.
The car begins in comfort mode, but a press of a button flings it into sport mode, powering the 300 horses via twin turbocharger. Highway driving was immediately comfortable, feeling as though we’d had the car for years. I could feel the responsive steering once we hit the country roads as we neared Hume, VA, where we would stop at Rappahannock Winery for a brief picnic.
The twisty turns of western Virginia beckoned sport mode and a driver switch. The salesman was right that our biggest argument now would be ‘who gets to drive.’ Riding shotgun was just as enjoyable through the countryside. The X3 cornered beautifully and never did we doubt its ability to grip the pavement.
On our trip home the next day, the X3 experienced its first rain. Handling and confidence behind the wheel remained on both back roads and the main stretch of highway that separates city life and tranquility. Nobs and switches for windshield wipers and the automatic lights setting made the transition to inclement weather a cinch. We even tested out the Bluetooth phone system to dial my parents hands-free.
Upon returning from our first road trip, we stepped out of the car and looked at each other. It was at that moment we realized that with suitcase in hand and preppy attire we must be the poster children of the 2013 BMW X3.
Many consumers in the market for a new crossover have what I’d call ‘Goldilocks’ syndrome – they can’t seem to find a utility vehicle that’s not too large but not too small. They are looking to find that perfectly-sized solution to their cargo and comfort needs. My husband and I were those exact customers, and for us, the 2013 X3 is that solution.
The fully redesigned X3 is perfectly-sized and has plenty of space and power for four normal-sized adults and their cargo. But the 300 hp inline six engine of the xDrive 35i model can be tamed; that’s where Driving Dynamics Control Eco Pro mode comes in. I’d recommend this setting for city driving.
The stop/start technology also assists in conserving fuel in these driving conditions, cutting off the engine temporarily when stopped in traffic for more than a few seconds. Start/stop is a bit awkward to get used to. For those who don’t enjoy the cranking noise at every traffic light, simply turn off the technology next to the ignition start button.
For those who neither want nor need a crowd-carrying SUV, this sporty-yet-petite ute fulfills the must-haves and more. The 2013 X3 brings comfort creatures to a level of luxury one can only expect from BMW. The X3 has been redesigned for this model year and the improvements make it the most attractive one to-date.