2022 BMW X3 First Drive Review: Winning Formula, Refined

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick


Engine: 2.0L I4 Turbo
Output: 248 hp, 255 lb-ft
Transmission: 8AT, AWD
US fuel economy (MPG): 21/28/24
CAN fuel economy (L/100KM): 11.2/8.4/9.8 (est)
Starting Price (USD): $44,695 (sDrive, inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (USD): $51,390 (inc. dest.)
Starting Price (CAD): $55,470 (xDrive, inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (CAD): $64,000 (est, see text)

The fight for the luxury compact SUV sales crown is a close one.

Last year, the Audi Q5, Mercedes GLC, and Lexus NX all were within spitting distance of each other. Yet above them all sat the BMW X3. Over the course of three generations BMW has seemingly cracked the code for compact SUVs, finding the right blend of luxury, sporting pretensions, and practicality.

With the whole pack nipping at its heels, the X3 arrives for this model year with a substantial round of updates. The result is a carefully considered package, improving on the X3’s strengths while sanding down anything buyers might consider its weak points.

What’s new?

The current X3 was hardly an aging veteran, showing up on the scene in 2018. So BMW has gently massaged the package, tweaking the exterior styling while bringing in more tech within.

On all 2022 X3s, including this xDrive30i tester, thinner headlights with standard LED lighting now frame a conjoined kidney grille. The lower bumper is new too, the triangular corner intakes continuing a styling trend seen on the 2022 2 Series Coupe.

Get a Quote on a New BMW X3

Around back, new taillights provide a unique nighttime light signature, with a wonderful three-dimensional look up close. M-badged models benefit from their own distinct styling cues, like larger air intakes aft of the front wheels, and tweaked bumper designs.

Inside, there’s the typical upgrades: larger screens, updated ambient lighting, and other design tweaks.

2022 BMW X3 interior and comfort

The dashboard is where the bulk of the design changes happen for the 2022 X3. BMW has slimmed down the central vents, enough so that the climate controls now live between them. Below that are slimline audio controls; above, the optional 12.3-inch touchscreen (a 10.25-incher is standard). It’s a clean layout, if slightly unadventurous in the face of the latest steampunk looks from Mercedes, or the Korean calm of the Genesis GV70. BMW gets points for maintaining physical buttons for the most-used controls, however.

SEE ALSO: 2022 Genesis GV70 2.5T First Drive Review: Four to Love

The rest of the interior sticks to the script that has put the X3 at the top of the pile. A thin-rimmed steering wheel sits ahead of the driver, who can enjoy a comfortable, multi-adjustable throne in BMW’s artificial leather. BMW hasn’t messed with the interior dimensions either, so the X3 still stretches the definition of “compact” with its spaciousness. There’s plenty of headroom either row, and 36.4 inches (925 millimeters) of rear legroom.

The X3 is still one of the most capacious compacts out there for the grocery haul, too. According to the manufacturer, the X3 will swallow 28.7 cubic feet (812 liters) of stuff with all the seats up. Fold the 40/20/40 second row down and that number more than doubles, to 62.7 cubes (1,775 L). The load floor is helpfully low, too.

If style is more important than space, you still have the option of the X4 “coupe-over,” which wraps all the 2022 updates in a more dramatic shape.

SEE ALSO: 2021 BMW X4 M Competition Review: Impractically Imperfect

2022 BMW X3 technology and features

iDrive remains central to the X3 tech experience, and it’s as refined here as it is in every other modern BMW. With the extra real estate the 12.3-inch screen provides, the menus are easy to navigate with your grubby little fingers, but the dial on the center console is intuitive and skips the inevitable fingerprints. Nudge to the left for the main menu, nudge up for common links like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (both standard) twirl to quickly move amongst the sub-menus; navigating iDrive doesn’t require much attention at all, which is a positive. This tester also includes the gesture controls, if you’d rather work on your Spirit Fingers routine. We kid, but it works well, so long as you aren’t a hands talker.

Another 12.3-inch screen sits behind the steering wheel, with a head-up display above. Dubbed BMW Live Cockpit Professional, the instrument panel provides lots of key information right ahead of the driver, including detailed navigation. While this tester doesn’t include the optional adaptive cruise control, that system works well with the screen, providing a real-time graphic of surrounding traffic and lane placement. Blind spot monitoring is also available, as well as lane-keep assist. Standard safety kit includes automated emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive headlights with auto high beams. Also on the options list is BMW’s drive recorder, which can automatically record the 20 seconds both before and after any accidents.

Another feature we unfortunately couldn’t test is Back-Up Assistant. This records the previous few car lengths of travel exactly, after which the X3 traces the path in reverse.

2022 BMW X3 driving impressions

The engine lineup continues to feature a brace of four- and six-cylinder options. The base engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot, producing 248 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. Every model uses a variation of the ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission.

While the numbers may not match some of the more powerful four-cylinder competition, the xDrive30i never feels out of its depth as it winds through the Californian mountains. Torque comes on early, helping the X3 up to speed plenty quick enough. The auto ‘box does the typical luxury smoothness in normal use, but will happily adopt a more aggressive approach when you put your foot in, dropping down the ratios and holding gears through the rev range. There’s still some four-cylinder gruffness, but that’s par for the course in the class these days.

With nary an M badge in sight, the X3 rides with a softness not present elsewhere in the lineup. It’s secure on the road, but not particularly Freude am Fahren. The steering is light on feel, but the consistency makes it easy to place on the winding roads.

The X3 M40i produces 382 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, and now comes with a 48-volt mild hybrid system to bolster it. Canadian buyers also have the option of the 2.0-liter-powered xDrive30e plug-in hybrid; BMW America said no to the PHEV for 2022.

SEE ALSO: 2020 BMW X3 PHEV Review: Plug-In the One to Have

2022 BMW X3 pricing and competition

We can circle back to the intro for this one. The Merc GLC, Audi Q5, Lexus NX—the latter of which has its own new generation for 2022—are just a smattering of the main competition. There’s also the strong new Genesis GV70, plus the likes of the Acura RDX, Volvo XC60, and even the Lincoln Nautilus. Want a stronger focus on driving dynamics? Check out the Porsche Macan or Alfa Romeo Stelvio. The whole group uses turbocharged four-pots, making around 250–300 horsepower.

SEE ALSO: 2022 Lexus NX 450h+ First Drive Review: Plugged-In Progress

The X3 lands right in the middle of the segment for pricing, kicking off at $44,695 in rear-drive form, including destination. The xDrive30i starts at $46,695 ($55,470 CAD). This tester has a few choice upgrades, like the afore-mentioned head-up display, heated seats and steering wheel, and others, bringing the total to $51,390. There isn’t an exact spec match for the Canadian market, but this would translate to about $64,000 CAD.

Final Thoughts: 2022 BMW X3 First Drive Review

The 2022 BMW X3 looks ready to handle the fiercely competitive compact luxury SUV segment once more. The latest revisions don’t dramatically alter the recipe, which is just as well since it’s proven to be such a sales success. It’s easy to see why: the X3 is ruthlessly competent, doing everything well without any major blemishes. Those wanting a more sporty drive will need to look M-ward, but the four-cylinder X3 should satisfy the needs of most drivers.

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  • Excellent all-rounder
  • Spacious
  • Smooth ride


  • Safe interior design
  • Coarse engine
  • Not much more efficient than M40i
Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

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