Spec Comparison: BMW X3 vs Lexus RX350

BMW X3 | July 23rd, 2016 by 5
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The current F25-generation BMW X3 is on its way out the door, with BMW making way for a new model to replace it. However, that …

The current F25-generation BMW X3 is on its way out the door, with BMW making way for a new model to replace it. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any life left in the old girl, as it’s still a great small SUV. To prove it, we’re going to compare it (on paper, at least) to one of the hottest, most popular luxury SUVs in America. The Lexus RX350.

Lexus wasn’t the first to debut a luxury SUV, but its first-generation of RX SUVs quickly became the most popular luxury SUV in America. People loved it for its smooth luxury and pillowy ride comfort. They also loved its bulletproof reliability (because it’s a Toyota, let’s be real). However, despite its incredible popularity, enthusiasts have always felt that the Lexus RX was actually pretty awful. It’s slow, uninspiring at best and so boring it might as well come with a bottle of Ambien. It’s bad to drive, flat out.

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However, the BMW X3 is almost the anti-Lexus RX. It actually has a somewhat firm ride, isn’t all that luxurious on the inside and is quite fun to drive for its size. In fact, it’s one of the more fun SUVs in its class to drive. It’s also not as bulletproof as the RX350. So, in many ways, these cars are polar opposites. So which one is better?

Let’s compare apples-to-apples, here. The lowest-spec Lexus RX350 brings a 3.5 liter naturally-aspirated V6 to the fight, packing 295 hp. Front-wheel drive is standard, but the optional all-wheel drive is the volume seller, so we’re gonna use that one. In the Bavarian corner, the X3 xDrive35i packs a 3.0 liter turbocharged I6, packing 300 hp and all-wheel drive. Both have eight-speed automatics supplied by ZF, so both have great gearboxes.

Despite only packing five more horsepower, the BMW X3 is the far faster vehicle. It gets from 0-60 mph in just 5.3 seconds while it takes the Toyo…err…Lexus 6.9 seconds to do the same sprint. Credit the abundance of low-down torque in the turbocharged BMW, as well as being almost 300 lbs lighter, for that time disparity. However, there’s still something to be said about naturally-aspirated engines and their throttle response.

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Though you will pay a premium for that. The Lexus RX350 AWD starts life at $44,240 while the BMW X3 xDrive35i starts at $46,025 while coming with much less equipment as standard. Both seat five passengers and have about the same cargo space. The Lexus will be the more reliable car in the long run, but the BMW X3 is far more engaging to drive. The interior of the Lexus is more comfortable, but the X3 is far more engaging to drive. The Lexus comes with more kit as standard, but the X3 is far more engaging to drive. Noticing a pattern here?

While the Lexus RX350 is a great value proposition, the BMW X3 is still the better car to actually one and drive. It’s a little short on creature comforts as standard and is a bit pricier than the Lexus, but it’s worth it for those who value actually driving their cars.

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