The Inside

The X3's redesigned interior continues the sparse, minimalistic design approach that BMW favors, but it does a better job of integrating the center screen, which serves as the display for the standard iDrive system.

Unfortunately, the quality of the materials inside degrades the lower you look. While our test car was fitted with a nice-looking upper dashboard and classy optional wood trim, the center control panel was plain. As your eyes move down to the door pockets, you see they're made of cheap-looking shiny plastic, complete with rough edges that say "economy car" more than "luxury crossover."

Another aspect our editors panned was the X3's optional leather upholstery, which lacks appropriate richness. In terms of cushioning and support, though, the front bucket seats are comfortable.

It's nice to see the X3 bucks the trend of decreasing visibility that plagues many new cars. It has thin roof pillars and lots of glass, resulting in good all-around views.

Backseat legroom is acceptable for adult passengers. The seat cushion, though, is too low to the floor, leading to a knees-up seating position that reduces thigh support. Unfortunately, the 60/40-split backrest doesn't recline.

    See also:

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    Breaking-in period
    General information Moving parts need to be broken in to adjust to each other. The following instructions will help achieve a long vehicle life and good economy. Engine and differential Always ...

    Safety
    The X3 earned a 2009 Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the agency's highest award. That means it earned top scores in IIHS' frontal-offset, side-impact a ...