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BMW gives the X3 an E, and whee!
By Scott SturgiS
The Philadelphia Inquirer

2020 BMW X3 xDrive30E:
Fun and fuel sipping?

Price: $65,020 as tested. Driver Assistance
Package and Plus Package added $1,900
total. More mentioned below.
Conventional wisdom: Edmunds.com
likes the “smooth ride and comfortable
seats, wide variety of standard and optional
features for personalization, roomy interior
for both front and rear passengers” but not
the “limited real-world EV range, lower fuel
economy than the gas-only X3, questionable
value proposition of the plug-in hybrid.”
Marketer’s pitch: “Discover the freedom of
a versatile plug-in hybrid.”
Reality: A nice blend of both worlds — at
least when packaged right.
What’s New: The XDrive30E version of
BMW’s X3 features a plug-in hybrid that’s all
new for 2020.
Up to speed: When I last wrote about the
2018 X3, I complained that it didn’t have
much low-speed oomph when getting
started. The problem seems well cured this
time around, but that might be thanks to the
electric motor and 12 kWh battery attached
to the 2.0-liter four.
Total power from the unit is 288 horsepower,
and 0-60 takes just 5.9 seconds, according
to BM. Again, like most luxury hybrids, try
to delete the putt-putt Prius image from
your mind — the electric motor adds 107
of those horses. Exceeding posted speeds is
far too easy, and I found myself heading to
70 without even meaning to.
BMW advertises 18 miles of electric-only
range from the battery, and that figure

seemed not too worn down by my heavy
foot. (I guess BMW knows its customers.)
Shifty: The X3 tested also got the standard
BMW ShiftTronic lever, which offers
shiftability or automatic mode. Selecting
your own gears from the 8-speed gearbox
is rewarding and easy, and the shifter feel is
just right. Automatic mode also works well.
On the curves: The MSport package
($5,000) and Dynamic Handling Package
($1,400) combine to return the X3 to the
days of joy that I recall from the early
2010s, when the midsize SUV was a little
smaller and easier to handle. It felt a little
bulky in its 2018 incarnation, but this 2020
model felt crisp and direct. I spent far too
much time frightening my wife on country
roads, getting a feel for the curves. (Not only
is she suffering with me at home all day
during quarantine, but then I drag her along
on tests to tell her her opin — I mean, to get
her opinion.)
Sport and Comfort modes each offer
delightful times. I’m not much for “Eco.” If
I wanted to save gas, I could go lighter on
the pedal by choice, and, oh, also not buy a
BMW.
The X3 also plays a more user-friendly
version of the X5, so if you don’t need
all that bulk, look for something more
manageable.
Driver’s Seat: BMW hasn’t messed around
with gauges and the rest of the cockpit too
much, and I continue to shout, “You go, girl.”
Everything remains visible, clean, and easy
to locate.
The cognac vernasca leather interior (part of
the $4,500 Executive Package, which also
heats the seats and steering wheel, adds
sunroof, surround view and more) is also
comfortable and attractive, as is the fineline

cove matte finish wood trim (also part of the
package), although the seat keeps a little
too much lumbar support for me even when
I turn it all the way down.
Friends and stuff: Rear seat space has also
opened up in this year’s model. Headroom
and legroom remain roomy, and now foot
room is also expanded. The rear seat is a
comfortable perch as well. It’s a little flat,
but that makes the middle seat a little more
doable. Even legroom in the center is not
too bad.
Cargo space is 59.4 cubic feet with the rear
seat down, and 27.2 with it up.
Play some tunes: The stereo interface
follows BMW standard as well, with a dial
and buttons controlling functions and a
volume knob on the dashboard. Operation
is slick and simple, with a list of Sirius
channels or iPod songs set as the default
menu, and a simple scroll through names
getting you to exactly what you want.
Sound from the Harman Kardon system
($875) is very good, probably an A, after
some equalizer fiddling.

Keeping warm and cool: Dials control
the cabin temperature and buttons control
everything else, easy peasy.
Looking around: Highway driving was
pleasant, but the BMW is a little tough to see
out of, especially for keeping track of other
lanes. Sideview mirrors are smaller than I’d
like.
Fuel economy: I averaged around 25 mpg
in a week of not much driving and keeping
this SUV charged up. To speak to Edmunds’
criticism, that’s 2 mpg better than the 2018
X3 I tested. The X3e drinks only the best.
Where it’s built: Spartanburg, South
Carolina
How it’s built: The X3 gets a 3 out of 5 for
reliability from Consumer Reports.
In the end: If you’re looking for a hybrid
to simply save fuel, the X3 xDrive30e may
not be the right choice. But it performed
so much better than the 2018 X3 I tested
that it’s worth checking out. Meantime,
write to BMW and tell them to send me all
the possible vehicle combinations so I can
better serve you, the reader.

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