2012 BMW X3 xDrive28i Hot
Although this second-generation X3 still provides sport sedan-like composure in the corners, its suspension is compliant enough to take the rough edges off the road. There's even the option of a Dynamic Handling package that also changes the suspension damping, throttle action, transmission shift schedule and stability control calibration to suit the driver's mood and/or road conditions.
The 2012 BMW X3 is available with two engines, both of which suffer from BMW's silly naming conventions. The entry-level X3 xDrive28i (xDrive is essentially BMW speak for all-wheel drive) provides a fairly spirited drive, while the X3 xDrive35i provides a very spirited drive thanks to its turbocharged, 300-horsepower six-cylinder engine. The X3's eight-speed transmission also deserves special mention for its quick ability to optimize performance. When you need "right now" response it can drop directly from 8th to 2nd gear in one shot, bypassing the gears in between.
Overall, the 2012 BMW X3 is a major player in the small luxury crossover SUV game. But it's not without peer. The Infiniti EX35, for instance, offers similar power and agility for considerably less money. The Mercedes-Benz GLK350 is less athletic but feels more solid. The Audi Q5 provides a smoother ride, while the Volvo XC60 is more family-friendly. Each offers a slightly different take on what the ideal luxury crossover should be. But if you want one with a performance-oriented personality, the 2012 BMW X3 is a great choice.