21 Best & Worst BMW X3 Years (With Facts & Stats)

The BMW X3 is a luxury compact SUV that was first introduced as a 2003 model.

While an SUV at its core, this vehicle carries the sporty, zippy, and stylish personality of its sedan counterparts. 

In this article, we will take a deep dive into its best and worst years. 

2022 BMW X3

Here’s The Short Answer To What The Best And Worst Years For The BMW X3 Are:

The best BMW X3 model years are 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2014, 2012, 2010, and 2009. The worst model years of the X3 are 2019, 2015, 2013, 2011, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, and 2004. This is based on auto industry reviews, NHTSA statistics, reported problems, and consumer feedback.

What Are The Best Years For The BMW X3?

2023 and 2022 BMW X3

The latest models are arguably the best, sporting the most refined powertrains and the latest tech and safety equipment.

The 2022 X3 received a moderate refresh to its design, including a revised grille, all-new headlights and taillights, revamped bumper designs, new alloy wheels, and slightly modified exhaust tips. 

While a 10.3-inch touchscreen display remained standard, BMW has since begun to offer a 12.3-inch upgrade.

These models are highly praised for their driver engagement factor.

2023 BMW X3:

  • Edmunds: 4.6 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.4 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 82 / 100

2022 BMW X3:

  • Edmunds: 4.3 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.4 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 82 / 100

2022 X3, Edmunds review:

“I’m coming back to BMW after ten years with Audi cars. As good as Audi is, they just can’t duplicate or approach the excitement of getting behind the wheel of a BMW. I chose the red leather interior, which has changed for 2022 to a rich plum color. It’s gorgeous. The acceleration is strong and the steering is highly responsive. Nothing feels superfluous…”

2021 BMW X3

With two potent and fuel-efficient engine options available, the 2021 X3 is another solid choice.

For 2021 a number of standard safety and entertainment features were introduced. 

Updates included Android Auto smartphone compatibility, SiriusXM satellite radio access, and a standard Active Driving Assistance package, which provided owners with features such as blindspot monitoring and lane-departure warning. 

  • Edmunds: 4.2 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.4 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 81 / 100

2021 X3, Edmunds review:

“My first and definitely not last. I’m 6’1″ 225 and this fits me well. I also have back issues that I do not experience at all in this vehicle. I looked at all the competitors in this class and for me the BMW won because of the 6 cylinder, the space for rear passengers, and wow is it fun to drive.”

2020 BMW X3

Quiet, roomy and engaging to drive the 2020 X3 is a top pick.

For 2020 a plug-in hybrid powertrain, known as the xDrive30e, was added to the roster.

Its equipped with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor that offers 288 horsepower and up to 18 miles of electric-only driving. 

Navigation was also made standard for this year.

  • Edmunds: 3.5 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.4 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 80 / 100

2020 X3, Edmunds review:

“Recently purchased my new 2020 BMW X3, and I’m so happy I did! Coming from a Lexus NX, I was impressed with the performance, comfort, and technology packed into this car. I cross shopped the previous generation X3 when I got my last lease, but this generation is night and day better in terms of driving dynamics and pushed me to make the switch. It feels almost like I’m driving a 3 series sedan with how great it handles, and the power from the base engine is surprisingly quick and smooth…”

2018 BMW X3

The 2018 X3 was the first iteration of the third generation and has proven itself to be one of the least problematic years to date according to NHTSA stats.

This model year was all new end to end and is notably improved compared to the previous generation.

  • Edmunds: 4.2 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.4 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 80 / 100

2018 X3, Edmunds review:

“ … I’m very pleased so far. This is my first BMW, my previous recent vehicles being Lexus and Mercedes. I was pleased that I was able to get the car equipped with regular, rather than run-flat tires. I have averaged a bit over 27 mpg in 1,000 miles of mixed driving. I am particularly pleased with the intuitive controls and very good voice recognition. Both are far better than in previous vehicles I have owned…”

2018 BMW X3

2017 BMW X3

The 2017 X3 was the final installment of the second generation and although it’s not as advanced as its successors it is safe choice.

Since the 2018 X3 was slated to be the model year to receive the biggest improvements, the 2017 model didn’t receive any updates.

However, there were small improvements worth noting, such as new paint colors, wireless smartphone charging, and wi-fi hotspot capability. 

  • Edmunds: 3.9 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.4 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 82 / 100

2017 X3, Edmunds review:

“I have had two other BMWs in the past and loved them. This is my first foray into BMWs SUV world. I have to say that I love this vehicle just as much if not more than my others. It is a medium size SUV but is engineered inside to provide maximum storage and comfort. With the upgrade to the 6 cylinder (which is the engine I am use to having), the fun to drive factor and performance is definitely still there…”

2016 BMW X3

The 2016 X3 was praised for its performance, fuel economy, high-quality materials, roomy interior, and top-notch crash test scores.

This model year is available in three engine flavors: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4, 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4 and 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6.

In terms of revisions, the 2016 X3 received a standard 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, but this was exclusive only to the xDrive35i variant. 

  • Edmunds: 4.1 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.4 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 82 / 100

2016 X3, Edmunds review:

“I reviewed information online for Lexus, Mercedes, BMW, Volvo, Audi, Acura and Infinity. I keyed on safety, reliability, gas mileage and costs. I test drove each of the vehicles twice and took notes about strengths and weaknesses. I narrowed it down to Lexus and BMW primarily because of driving comfort, interior features and how I was treated at the dealership. I drove each one more time and the BMW just handled better. The interior features (look, comfort and navigation controls) were great and easy to master…”

2016 BMW X3

2014 BMW X3

Between this model year and the 2013 X3, this would definitely be a significantly better choice simply because it was far less problematic.

The 2013 X3 had widespread engine issues.

Owners and critics lauded this model year for its comfortable rear seat and copious amounts of passenger and cargo room.

  • Edmunds: 3.9 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.4 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 82 / 100

2014 X3, Edmunds review:

“My wife wanted a mid size SUV which was NOT front wheel drive or front wheel biased. This pretty much directed us to Audi Q5, BMW X3and Mercedes GLK350. Each had its strong points, but the BMW X3 had the most useable space and no real negatives. We’re very happy with our decision. Ours was pretty well optioned and had the highest sticker price of the 3, but with USAA and BMW incentives, wound up the least expensive. The base engine has plenty of zip and is reasonably fuel efficient (not quite up to EPA estimates, but still not bad). It handles nicely on the road…”

2012 BMW X3

If you’re looking for a slightly older model, then you can’t go far wrong with the 2012 X3.

This model year carried on mostly unchanged from its direct predecessor although it was notably less problematic.

This model comes with a long list of standard safety equipment including antilock disc brakes, automatic brake drying, stability control and hill descent control.

  • Edmunds: 3.8 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.4 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 79 / 100

2012 X3, Edmunds review:

“Really a great SUV. Great visibility, great looks, strong powertrain, extremely functional, appropriate repair/maintenance costs. The in-line six cylinder engine is very strong and reliable. Two notable repairs. Replacement of water pump and supply/return hoses at 99,000 miles (covered under extended 100k warranty). Replacement of intake air valve actuators at 125,000 miles. This was a tricky problem that local BMW dealer could not figure out, but independent BMW shop did…”

2010 BMW X3

The 2010 X3 was the final installment of the first generation and it should come as no surprise it was also one of the least problematic.

For 2010 the standard moonroof was dropped although a HD Radio system was added in its place.

This model was powered by a 260-horsepower, 3.0-liter in-line 6 engine with plenty of oompf.

  • Edmunds: 4.0 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.2 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 72 / 100

2010 X3, Edmunds review:

“My wife was tired of her Camry and wanted to sit high in traffic. Looked at the RX350, the E35 and even the new GLK, but nothing matched the driving dynamics of the X3. I don’t even like SUVs, but I really enjoyed driving this one. Brakes are even stronger than in my Mercedes, and perhaps the best highway ride of any car we’ve owned. Only complaint is the stereo controls are small and look alike, which is a common problem in BMW interiors…”

2010 BMW X3

2009 BMW X3

The 2009 X3 was the most reliable model from the first generation, it boasts a classic design and xDrive full-time all-wheel drive as standard.

Despite its age, the 2009 X3 still has great handling and impressive power delivery as well as a high-quality cabin.

We wouldn’t advise any model older than the 2009 X3 as they are notably more problematic.

  • Edmunds: 4.0 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.2 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 74 / 100

2009 X3, Edmunds review:

“2009 BMW X3 with full options – I bought this car used in March, 2017 with 83,000 miles on it to replace a 2007 BMW X3 with 165,000 miles which was the nicest car I had ever owned.  This one is better.  The transmission on the 2009 is smoother than the 2007, this one has the upgraded stereo and it sounds better, but also just the tuner knob is nicer and easier to use.  It could be just my perception, but it seems more stable in corners at speed.  Gas mileage is great on both – I get 21 or 22 mixed, and 26 to 28 highway in the Rocky mountains between 50 and 80 miles an hour…”

Consumer Scores For Best BMW X3 Years

Model YearEdmunds
Consumer Rating
Kelley Blue Book
Consumer Rating
JD Power
Consumer Rating
2023 BMW X34.6 / 5.04.4 / 5.082 / 100
2022 BMW X34.3 / 5.04.4 / 5.082 / 100
2021 BMW X34.2 / 5.04.4 / 5.081 / 100
2020 BMW X33.5 / 5.04.4 / 5.080 / 100
2018 BMW X34.2 / 5.04.4 / 5.080 / 100
2017 BMW X33.9 / 5.04.4 / 5.082 / 100
2016 BMW X34.1 / 5.04.4 / 5.082 / 100
2014 BMW X33.9 / 5.04.4 / 5.082 / 100
2012 BMW X33.8 / 5.04.4 / 5.079 / 100
2010 BMW X34.0 / 5.04.2 / 5.072 / 100
2009 BMW X34.0 / 5.04.2 / 5.074 / 100

Related: How Long Do BMW X3 Last? (11 Important Facts)

What Are The Worst Years For The BMW X3?

The X3, despite its fantastic features and great reputation, has had its fair share of flawed model years. 

2019 BMW X3

The 2019 BMW X3 saw a spike in complaints for various equipment problems. One common complaint was that the sunroof shattered randomly for no reason.

Other owners widely complained that the tailgate would open on its own, here’s what they had to say:

“Back hatch door opens randomly. It was parked overnight and stationery but neighbor reported it open this morning.”

“While reversing our car in our garage, the car trunk popped open and hit our garage roof creating scratches and peeled paint on the trunk lid.”

The 2019 X3 had a total of 5 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 81 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Sudden acceleration
  • Hatch opens randomly
  • Air conditioning not working
  • Check engine light on

2015 BMW X3

The engine was very problematic for the 2015 X3 according to NHTSA reports.

Owners filed complaints stating the engine and coolant warning light would come on and remain illuminated.

This would often be accompanied by various engine issues such as stalling and smoke coming from the vehicle.

The 2015 X3 had a total of 5 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 91 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Extreme noise with rear windows open
  • Frontal collision warning system (FCW) inoperative
  • Check engine light on
  • Comfort access not working
2015 BMW X3

2013 BMW X3

According to online statistics, the 2013 X3 takes the cake as the most problematic model year.

Timing chain failure was the biggest and most frequent complaint lodged by owners of this model, this would often result in engine failure and hefty repair bills.

Here are two owners’ reports:

“The vehicle (at 102k mileage) failed to start in heavy traffic without any warning signs, and was then towed to a local BMW shop. A mechanic found the broken timing chain with many bits of debris found in the engine during repair. A total cost to replace the timing chain was $3685. 05.”

“The timing chain broke at highway speed causing the engine to become completely inoperable. Apparently, this is extremely common in the BMW n20 engines.”

The 2013 X3 had a total of 54 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 281 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Broken timing chain guide
  • Engine failure
  • Engine stalls, shuts down while driving

2011 BMW X3

The 2011 X3 may not have had as many problems as the others on this list, but reports related to engine stalling and transmission issues were significant enough to warrant a spot on this list. 

Another commonly reported problem was the loss of power steering.

Owners reported that whilst driving the steering wheel seized followed by warning messages on the dash.

The 2011 X3 had a total of 1 complaint at CarComplaints.com and 113 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • LED lights failure
  • Power steering failed
  • Engine stalling

2008 BMW X3

The 2008 X3 was a victim of the Takata airbag recall, one of the biggest recalls in automotive history.  

These airbags were known to explode and fire bits of metal into the cabin with potentially lethal consequences.

There were also a number of engine-related complaints from owners stating that the engine shut off whilst driving.

The 2008 X3 had a total of 3 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 108 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Engine bolts are loose
  • Transmission hesitates
  • Heated seat shorted out

2007 BMW X3

The engine was the most problematic aspect of the 2007 X3, this stemmed from cooling system faults.

To add to this, reports have indicated that certain support components failed to hold up the engine properly, leading to car breakdowns on the road. 

Other owners reported various transmission issues such as hesitation upon acceleration.

Seats burning due to faulty heating elements was also widely reported.

The 2007 X3 had a total of 9 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 241 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Oil leaks
  • Engine making noise
  • Engine mount bolt failure
BMW X3 2007

2006 BMW X3

The 2006 X3 received a large number of complaints due to its airbag system.

Owners widely reported that the airbag warning indicator would illuminate and stay on.

This was linked to the passenger-side occupant mat sensor failing.

Overheating seats was another common problem that left some owners with burns.

The 2006 X3 had a total of 3 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 163 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Oil leak
  • Sunroof gets stuck open
  • Foul smell from air conditioning, heater
  • Heated seat getting too hot too fast

2005 and 2004 BMW X3

The 2004 and 2005 X3’s were the first installments of the model and unsurprisingly they came with a few teething issues.

Overheating seats, airbag issues and electrical glitches were among some of the more common complaints.

Here’s one owners complaint:

“The driver seat heating element burnt a hole through the leather seat. This happened while I was driving and wearing my seat belt. I felt the heat through my clothes and I was afraid it would catch my clothes on fire. I pulled over unstrapped my seat belt and examined the seat to find the hole burnt through.”

Despite these issues, the engine was generally quite reliable with hardly any reported problems.

  • The 2004 X3 had a total of 8 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 168 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.
  • The 2005 X3 had a total of 10 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 132 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Faulty sunroof
  • Headlight overheated
  • Heated seat on fire
  • Power windows falling down
2004 BMW X3

Related: Where Is The BMW X3 Made? (Solved & Explained)

What Years Have The Most Complaints?

Model YearComplaints(CarComplaints.com)Problems(CarProblemZoo.com)
2023 BMW X3NANA
2022 BMW X3NA13
2021 BMW X3128
2020 BMW X3424
2019 BMW X3581
2018 BMW X3133
2017 BMW X3350
2016 BMW X3854
2015 BMW X3591
2014 BMW X3661
2013 BMW X354281
2012 BMW X3655
2011 BMW X31113
2010 BMW X3235
2009 BMW X3123
2008 BMW X33108
2007 BMW X39241
2006 BMW X33163
2005 BMW X310132
2004 BMW X38168

What Problems Do BMW X3 Have?

  • Broken timing chain guide
  • Engine failure
  • Spontaneous acceleration
  • Engine stalls, shuts down while driving
  • Oil leaks
  • Engine making noise
  • Engine mount bolt failure
  • Faulty sunroof
  • Coolant reservoir leak
  • Headlight overheated
  • Brakes not working properly
  • Check engine light on
  • Strange rectangular shadow across dashboard
  • Transmission failure
  • Heated seat on fire
  • Power windows falling down

What Are The Best Alternatives To The BMW X3?

Make & ModelScoreMSRPFuel Economy (MPG)
Genesis GV708.7$42,900 – $55,000City: 19 – 22 /Highway: 24 – 28
BMW X38.5$45,400 – $72,900City: 15 – 23 /Highway: 20 – 29
Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class8.4$43,850 – $66,500City: 16 – 22 /Highway: 24 – 29
Acura RDX8.2$41,350 – $53,350City: 21 – 22 /Highway: 26 – 28
Lexus NX8.2NACity: NA /Highway: NA
Lincoln Corsair8.2$36,580 – $51,810City: 21 – 22 /Highway: 28 – 29
Volvo XC608.2$43,450 – $74,150City: NA /Highway: NA
Porsche Macan8.1$57,500 – $82,900City: 17 – 19 /Highway: 22 – 25
Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class8.1$38,600 – $49,950City: 21 – 23 /Highway: 26 – 30
Audi Q58.0$43,500 – $59,200City: NA /Highway: NA
Jaguar F-Pace8.0$52,400 – $89,500City: 15 – 22 /Highway: 21 – 27
BMW X47.8$53,400 – $76,400City: 15 – 21 /Highway: 20 – 28
Buick Envision7.6$33,400 – $47,460City: 22 – 23 /Highway: 29 – 31
Infiniti QX507.2$40,300 – $57,350City: 22 – 23 /Highway: 28 – 29
Alfa Romeo Stelvio7.0$45,550 – $84,650City: 17 – 22 /Highway: 23 – 29
Infiniti QX556.7$49,150 – $57,800City: 22 /Highway: 28
Land Rover Discovery Sport6.5$43,300 – $48,500City: 19 /Highway: 23

Source: cars.usnews.com, edmunds.com

Related: BMW X3 In Snow & Winter Driving? (Solved & Explained)

References

https://www.caranddriver.com/bmw/x3

https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/bmw/x3

https://www.carcomplaints.com/BMW/X3/

https://www.carproblemzoo.com/bmw/x3/

https://www.edmunds.com/bmw/x3/

https://www.kbb.com/bmw/x3/

https://www.jdpower.com/cars/2022/bmw/x3