So, in no way do the BMW X3 and Toyota RAV4 compete with in each other. The BMW X3 is significantly more expensive to start with, comes with much more powerful engines, if far more luxurious and much more performance-oriented. The RAV4 isn’t a bad car by any means, it’s just different from the X3 and competes in a different segment. So why would anyone compare these two? Well, it’s fun to see which does better off-road, that’s why. And The Fast Lane Car just did exactly that.

Actually, this is really just a test of BMW’s rear-drive-biased xDrive all-wheel drive system vs Toyota’s front-drive-biased system with a center locking diff. So which one performs better on Colorado’s Gold Mine Hill, at nearly 9,000 ft of elevation?

Well, both cars have interesting advantages. The Toyota has more off-road oriented tires with aggressive rubber for this sort of thing. The BMW X3 has good all-terrain tires but they aren’t as aggressive. The Toyota also has a center locking differential, giving it a bit of an advantage in crawly stuff.

However, the BMW X3 has two more inches of ground clearance, to total eight inches, and its turbocharged engine is more capable at higher altitudes. So not only can it crawl over taller obstacles but its engine will have the power to get it there.

Both cars were put through the same two obstacles. The first one, was a bit of a rocky hill but nothing too crazy. Both cars easily handled it with not issues whatsoever.


The second test was quite a bit more difficult. It featured an uphill corner with a deep rut on the inside of the corner and a much higher elevation on the outside of the corner. So the car would be going in on a severely banked corner with a deep rut on the inside and rocks all in between. It’s quite tricky, actually.

The Toyota RAV4 went first with its center diff locked but it couldn’t get up through with two tries. After that, the traction control was turned off and it was able to get through with a bit of will-power. But it wasn’t easy. Next up was the BMW X3, which really doesn’t have any off-road settings or buttons. So they just went for it and it nailed it on the first shot without too much of an issue. It was impressive to watch the X3’s different wheels scramble for traction as the front passenger-side wheel kicked up off the ground and teh car essentially got through on three wheels.

Overall, both cars can do more than most customers will do with them but the BMW X3 performed better and can handle far more than most people expect. We can’t wait to see what the new one can do.