2008 BMW X3

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18 CITY / 26 HWY
Overall Quality
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What Changed for 2008:
  • New optional Sport Activity package

  • Ambient lighting added to the Premium package
Smaller sibling to the BMW X5 SAV (BMW calls it a Sport Activity Vehicle or SAV), and nearly as popular in sales volume, the BMW X3 SAV first arrived in 2003. A 5-passenger compact SUV, the X3 offered sports car-like handling in a package offering nearly as much interior volume as the first-generation X5. The 2007 model year saw many revisions, including an engine upgrade that offered more power and better low-end torque. As is typical with a BMW model following a significant update year, the 2008 X3 3.0si is mostly a carryover with the exception of the new Sport Activity package added to its extensive options list.

Model Lineup
The BMW X3 3.0si SAV is the only model in the lineup for 2008. The 6-cylinder X3 offers a long list of standard convenience features that includes power windows and locks, automatic climate control with automatic recirculation and activated charcoal microfilter, 8-way power driver and passenger front seats, and an MP3-compatible AM/FM/CD audio system with 10 speakers including two subwoofers.

Popular option packages include the new-for-2008 Sport Activity package. It adds 18-inch wheels, sports leather steering wheel, running boards, shadowline trim, and privacy glass. The Cold Weather package adds heated front and rear seats, headlight washers and a ski bag. The Sport package equips the X3 with sport suspension, a sport steering wheel, 18-inch wheels, sport seats, and a full aerodynamic body kit with painted side skirts. The Premium package includes a universal garage door opener, ambient light package, auto-dimming mirrors, upgraded leather upholstery, and BMW Assist with Bluetooth.

Stand-alone options on the 2008 BMW X3 include Xenon adaptive headlights, a DVD-based navigation system, metallic paint, Sirius satellite radio and HD radio. Standard wheels are aluminum alloy, 17 inches in diameter with all-season tires. Optional wheels in 18- and 19-inch diameter are available with performance-oriented tires.

Standard in the 2008 BMW X3 3.0si SAV is a 3.0-liter, 24-valve, inline 6-cylinder engine with a composite magnesium/aluminum engine block, Valvetronic, and Double-Vanos steplessly variable valve timing. It is rated at 260 hp and 225 lb.-ft. of torque. Consumers are offered the choice of BMW's 6-speed Steptronic automatic transmission or a 6-speed manual transmission at no additional cost. EPA fuel economy ratings are 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway for the automatic transmission,16 mpg city/23 mpg highway for the manual transmission. According to BMW, X3s equipped with the Steptronic version can accelerate to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds, on to a top speed of 142 mph (vehicles equipped with the Sport package).

Standard on all 2008 X3 models is BMW's xDrive, a full-time all-wheel-drive (AWD) system that electronically varies front/rear torque split and traction control to offer optimal traction and control under varied road conditions, according to BMW. The X3 features fully independent suspension engineered for driving dynamics and agility on paved roads. (The X3 is not designed for heavy off-road use, therefore it is not equipped with a transmission low-range or locking differentials.) Disc brakes with anti-lock control are standard on all models.

BMW provides all 2008 X3 owners with a 4-year/50,000-mile new-vehicle limited warranty and a 4-year/unlimited mileage membership in the BMW Assist Safety Plan. The BMW Maintenance Program includes all factory-recommended maintenance items for the first 4-year/50,000-mile period of ownership.

In addition to 3-point safety belts and active head restraints, BMW equips all 2008 X3 models with a driver and front passenger front air bag supplemental restraint system (SRS) with advanced technology dual-threshold and dual-stage deployment. A front- and rear-compartment Head Protection System (HPS) \"curtain air bag\" helps to protect outboard passengers from injury, while a rollover sensor deploys air bags in the event of a rollover. For additional protection, a battery safety terminal is designed to cut off electrical power in a severe collision. Standard active safety features in every BMW X3 include anti-lock brakes (ABS), dynamic stability control (DSC) with Brake Fade Compensation, Start-off Assistant, Brake Drying, Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), Dynamic Brake Control, and Hill Descent Control (HDC).

The 2004-08 BMW X3 has been crash tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It received \"Good\" ratings for both the frontal offset test and the side-impact test-the highest ratings offered by the IIHS. By also offering standard electronic stability control, the 2008 BMW X3 is listed by the IIHS as a \"Top Safety Pick\" for 2008.

The X3 was chosen to premier BMW's new AWD system, xDrive, in late 2003. Unlike the AWD system fitted to the early X5, xDrive was designed to intervene before traction was lost. xDrive retains the same 40/60 torque split for sporty handling characteristics, but is able to redistribute torque within milliseconds to the wheels with traction-often before the driver notices any loss of stability, according to BMW. Working with the dynamic stability control (DSC) computers, xDrive splits power between the front and rear axles through the use of a multi-plate clutch. In addition to offering excellent traction in slippery or adverse weather conditions, BMW says, xDrive is able to control oversteer and understeer both electronically and mechanically, to help the driver regain and retain stability in nearly all driving situations.

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