The BMW X3 is a compact luxury SUV. Based on the BMW 3-Series platform, the X3 was introduced for the 2004 model year. This rear- or all-wheel drive model offers gas and diesel engine choices.

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2011 to Present: BMW X3

Introduced in 2011, the second-generation BMW X3 was made slightly longer and wider than the first-generation model. BMW calls its SUVs "Sports Activity Vehicles," but they are crossover models with unibody construction.

Depending on the model year, BMW offers the X3 in four model lines: sDrive28i, xDrive28i, xDrive28d, and xDrive35i. sDrive represents rear-wheel drive; xDrive represents all-wheel drive.

For 2011, the X3 was available only as an all-wheel drive model. A 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine with 240 horsepower came with the X3 xDrive28i, while the X3 xDrive35i features a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine with 300 horsepower. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard on both models.

The BMW X3 received a powertrain update for the 2013 model year. The base six-cylinder engine in xDrive28i models was dropped and replaced with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 240 horsepower. Revised front-end styling and the rear-wheel drive sDrive28i model debuted for 2015. The X3 xDrive28d was also introduced, which features a turbodiesel 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 180 horsepower.

Like all other BMW models, the X3 is instantly recognizable by its twin kidney-shaped grille layout. Its pronounced lower grille opening contributes to its sporty flair, with that section offset by fog lamps.

The X3's profile is marked by sweeping upper and lower character lines. A rising beltline and a sloping roofline contribute to this model's flowing appearance. Wheel well accents, rocker panel trim, alloy wheels and all-season tires are present. To the rear is a liftgate spoiler, wraparound taillights, rear fog lights an exhaust port and a kick plate.

The BMW X3 offers room for five. Bucket seats are up front; a 40/20/40 split-folding bench seat is in the back. Standard equipment includes power folding side mirrors, power-adjustable front seats, a tilt-and-telescopic steering column, ambient lighting, cruise control and an audio system with an auxiliary input and an iPod connection. This model also includes front and rear cup holders and Bluetooth.

Model upgrades can bring in burl walnut trim with chrome accents, an upgraded audio system and a storage package.

The BMW X3 competes with the Audi Q5, Lexus NX, Cadillac SRX, Infiniti QX50, Volvo XC60 and Lincoln MKC.

Earlier BMW X3 Models

The first-generation BMW X3 was produced from 2004 to 2010. Initially, that model offered 2.5-liter and 3.0-liter six-cylinder engines that produce 184 horsepower and 225 horsepower, respectively. The smaller six-cylinder engine was dropped after two years. BMW offered six-speed manual and five-speed automatic transmissions across the model line.

Common standard features on the first-generation X3 include automatic headlights, automatic climate control and leatherette upholstery.

The 2007 model year brought in refreshed interior and exterior styling, as well as a revamped 3.0-liter engine that produces 260 horsepower. The 2007 X3 was offered in one trim level: 3.0si.

Minor interior and exterior styling updates came with the 2009 model, which was renamed the X3 xDrive30i. One year before a full redesign, the X3 gained standard HD Radio for the 2010 model year but remained basically unchanged otherwise.