2021 BMW X3 LCI — BMW’s Best-Seller Gets Better

BMW’s best selling car, by quite a big margin, is the X3. It actually makes good sense; the BMW X3 is barely more money than the 3 Series and yet it’s bigger, more practical, and more comfortable. Most customers don’t care that the 3 Series is sharper and more dynamic, though don’t sleep on the X3’s handling — it’s actually a good little crossover to drive. Now that the BMW X3 has been given an LCI facelift, though, it looks better, has more modern tech, and gets a couple of interior tweaks to make ownership more enjoyable.

A BMW With Normal Grilles?

BMW’s recent trend of giving its cars kidney grilles that make Lexus grilles seem subtle might be nearing an end. The new BMW X3 LCI has been given a new set of grilles but they’re appropriately sized for a change. They feature sharper angles, are wider at the top, and connected in the middle. That middle bit also houses a front-facing camera, which BMW calls the iCam, and hides it rather well.

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The new X3 also gets new headlights, which are slimmer than before and feature new lighting elements, including BMW’s optional laser lights. The slim headlights combine with the sharper kidney grilles to give the new BMW X3 LCI a sportier look than the current, outgoing model. Not only does it looks sportier, it looks more mature and more premium as well, which will help it compete with cars like the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class and Volvo XC60.

BMW also updated the front apron of the X3, making it a bit sharper again. Not only that but the X3 also gets the same underbody protection and side sill plats from the pre-LCI xLine trim. If you don’t want that look, you can opt for the M Sport package, which brings larger front air intakes, black accents, and high-gloss black trim. M Sport models even get black kidney grille trim and roof rails.

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Typical BMW LCI updates focus all of their energy on the front of the car, leaving the back to stay mostly the same. While the majority of the BMW X3’s rear hasn’t changed, its taillights have changed more than you might think. At first glance, the taillights barely look different but, upon closer inspection, you’ll see that there’s far more 3D geometry to them than ever before.

It’s What’s Inside That Counts

As nice as it is to get some updated looks, modern customers care about tech above all else. Thankfully for X3 owners, the new LCI brings new tech. The BMW X3 ditches its old half-analog gauges for the brand’s new digital ones and replaces its old iDrive screen for the current iDrive 7. The iDrive screen is also much larger, at 12.3 inches, which will make customers happy, and the old-style rotary controller was thrown out for BMW’s more modern one.

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The climate controls were also updated to the more modern setup from cars like the 3 Series and 4 Series, while the old shift lever was replaced by the same one from the 3 Series as well. Overall, the interior wasn’t hugely updated but the few updates that were made will make a significant different for customers either replacing their old X3 or coming in fresh.

Powertrains and Drivetrains

The BMW X3 LCI will be offered with a suite of powertrain options. The entry-level model will be the BMW X3 xDrive20i, which will get a 2.0 liter turbo-four with 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft (300 Nm) of torque. It gets an eight-speed auto and xDrive all-wheel drive. BMW claims a 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time of 8.4 seconds, with a fuel economy of 8.4 – 7.6 l/100 km (28-30 mpg).

There’s also the X3 xDrive30i, which gets a similar turbo-four, just with 245 horsepower and 258 lb-ft (350 Nm). According to BMW, 0-62 mph happens in 6.6 seconds, with a fuel economy return of 8.5 – 7.6 l/100 km (27-30 mpg).

Then, rounding out the petrol engines, is the top-of-the-line BMW X3 M40i, which gets a 3.0 liter turbocharged I6 with 360 horsepower and 369 lb-ft (500 Nm) of torque. It also gets an eight-speed auto and all-wheel drive but hustles from 0-62 mph in 4.9 seconds.

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In addition to the three petrol engine options, there are also three diesel engine options. For starters, there’s the BMW X3 xDrive20d, which comes with a little 2.0 liter turbo-four diesel, making 190 horsepower and 295 lb-ft (400 Nm) of torque. According to BMW, 0-62 mph takes 7.9 seconds, with a return of 6.5 – 5.8 l/100 km (36-40 mpg). The BMW X3 xDrive30d uses a 3.0 liter turbocharged inline-six diesel with 286 horsepower and 479 lb-ft (650 Nm) of torque. It nails 62 mph in just 5.7 seconds, while returning 7.0 – 6.1 l/100 km (33-38 mpg).

Lastly, there’s a BMW X3 M40d, which is the diesel-powered M Performance model, which uses its own 3.0 liter turbocharged inline-six diesel to make 340 horsepower and 516 lb-ft (700 Nm) of torque. BMW claims 0-62 mph in a scant 4.9 seconds.

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Interestingly, all BMW X3 LCI engines get 48-volt mild-hybrid systems. Which means they all get 48-volt starter generators that can help start the engine, add 11 horsepower to the engine for additional response, and increase efficiency. It even helps with automatic start/stop, as the engine actually shuts down while coasting to a stop and the starter generator handles the rest. Then, the starter generator helps the car take off smoothly while the engine is still firing up, which helps make auto start/stop less jarring. And because the starter generator is essentially a small electric motor that can power the crankshaft, it can actually allow the engine to switch off while coasting at high speed and send just enough power to the wheels to maintain that speed.

Complete, Comprehensive LCI

All of these upgrades make the BMW X3 LCI a solid, comprehensive update that will only make an already popular car even more popular. Despite being a crossover, typically the antithesis of what car enthusiasts want, the current BMW X3 is a great car. Now that it’s been made even better, it’s going to remain highly competitive in a hotly contested segment.

Pricing

MSRP begins at $43,700 for the 2021 BMW X3 and at $51,800 for the 2021 BMW X4 plus $995 Destination. Production begins in Plant Spartanburg in August 2021.

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