Going & Stopping

The xDrive28i's 3.0-liter, inline-six-cylinder engine is unexpectedly stout, and it makes this two-ton crossover pretty quick; BMW cites a zero-to-60-mph acceleration time of 6.7 seconds, and you never get a sense that the engine's working hard. A more powerful xDrive35i with a turbocharged six-cylinder is offered, but the base model is by no means underpowered.

Contributing to both acceleration performance and fuel economy is the X3's new eight-speed automatic transmission (a manual gearbox isn't offered). The addition of two more forward gears versus the old X3's automatic results in more optimized ratios, and the drivetrain gets an EPA-estimated 19/25 mpg city/highway. That's ahead of the all-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz GLK350 (16/21) and the base engine in the all-wheel-drive XC60 (18/24), but it trails the base turbo four-cylinder in the Q5 (20/27).

Not all is well with the drivetrain, however, as more than one editor complained of accelerator lag, primarily during standing starts. Kickdown response is also lacking; there's a noticeable pause from the time you floor the gas pedal until the transmission drops a few gears for passing power. A Sport mode is included, and it helps enhance the drivetrain's responsiveness by keeping the transmission in lower gears longer.

Despite decent pedal feel, it's difficult to come to a smooth stop in the X3. Whether it's the fault of the automatic transmission stepping down through the gears or the crossover's standard Brake Energy Regeneration system, the result is jerky stops.

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