Car Review: You can plug-in for better mpg with BMW’s new version of the X3

Compact luxury crossovers are big business as buyer’s trade in luxury sedans for the popular high riders. BMW redesigned its X3 a couple years ago to better compete in a more crowded marketplace. I drove the sporty X3 M40i in 2019 and was impressed with its potent performance.

New for 2020 is a plug-in hybrid version that allows for 18-20 miles of electric-only driving. But when you combine the gas engine and that electric motor, the xDrive30e is transformed into a fun performance ride.

With 288hp combined, this plug-in hybrid will move quickly when you want. It’s also happy being the quiet runabout for shorter commutes not using any gas. For longer trips, the four-cylinder turbo engine provides enough power, gets good mpg and can help you charge while you drive.

It doesn’t look much like a plug-in hybrid. This X3 came with the pricey M Sport design that gives it a more aggressive look, complete with a rear spoiler and large 20″ wheels that scream fast, not good mpg.

The inside is definitely upscale with the addition of the executive package. Upgraded leather interior and wood trim work nicely and add color to what can usually be a dark interior.

Cost: $48,550; as tested $65,020

MPG: I managed 35.9 mpg in 430 miles of mixed driving with 102 miles on electric power.

Options: $5,000 M Sport design; $550 dark graphite metallic; $950 20″ M double spoke bicolor wheels; $500 driving assistance package; $1,700 driving assistance package; $1,400 dynamic handling package; $4,500 executive package; $875 Harmon Kardon surround sound system.

Safety: Active protection system includes fatigue and focus alert; impact sensor and adaptive brake lights; active guard with frontal collision warning; head-up display; parking assistance plus; active cruise control with stop & go; active lane assist with side collision avoidance, front traffic avoidance and traffic jam assist; surround view camera with 3D view; lane departure warning; active drive assistant

Things to know: The new plug-in hybrid version of the popular compact X3 SAV combines performance, efficiency and luxury. Neat gesture control feature allows hand motions for radio and phone features.

Pros:

  • Plug-in for better mpg and surprising performance when needed
  • Plenty of space for front and rear-seat riders
  • Lots of features and creature comforts should satisfy most buyers

Cons:

  • Prices quickly balloon when you choose pricey option packages
  • No love for Android, as there is no Android Auto is offered
  • You lose a bit of cargo space when you choose this plug-in version of the X3

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