Behold the 2011 BMW X3. It's longer, wider and taller than its predecessors, but you'd be forgiven for thinking it looks remarkably similar to the last X3.
Naturally, BMW's twin-kidney grille is affixed up front, but like the new 5 and 7 Series, it's more upright and slightly larger than before. The lower air dam is slightly chiseled while staying true to BMW's recent organic shapes, and the wider headlamps come equipped with "Corona Rings" and optional Xenon bulbs.
Viewed in profile, the outgoing X3's slab sides have been augmented with a character line running aft of the front wheels and kicking up over the rear fenders, while an upswept D-pillar compliments the redesigned LED taillamps and subtle crease over the rear-mounted Roundel. All in, the new X3 (F25) is half an inch taller, 3.36 inches longer and 1.1 inches wider with a half-inch increase in ground clearance. In keeping with tradition, it's a "lifestyle" vehicle first with no pretenses of hardcore off-roading.
Like the outside, the interior is a subtle evolution of its forebear, with a staid German style balancing functionality and form. The joystick-style transmission lever carries over from BMW's most recent models, along with an 8.8-inch iDrive-controlled screen and a redesigned steering wheel with aluminum accents on the paddle shifters and lower spoke. With the rear seats set in place, rear cargo volume comes in at 19 cubic feet, growing to 56.6 cubes with the 60:40 rear seats folded flat.
The entry-level X3 xDrive28i comes equipped with BMW's naturally aspirated 3.0-liter inline six rated at 240 horsepower and 230 pound-feet of torque, allowing BMW's best-selling 'ute to sprint to 60 in 6.7 seconds - about a half second quicker than the outgoing model. Step up for the X3 xDrive35i and you're basking in 300 hp and 300 lb-ft provided by BMW's new single-turbo N55 inline-six. The 0-60 run clocks in at a claimed 5.5 seconds, with a top speed of 150 mph when kitted out with the optional Sport package.
Channeling that power to the ground is a standard eight-speed automatic gearbox with wider spreads and taller cruising gears to keep fuel economy in check, while standard all-wheel drive splits torque 40:60 front-to-rear thanks to an electronically controlled multi-disc diff and a host of other gizmos.
The MacPherson front struts have been redeveloped along with the multi-link rear suspension, while an optional electronic damping control adapts to the road and driver inputs. Normal, Sport and Sport Plus modes are mounted next to the gear selector, tweaking throttle response, transmission shifts, steering assist, DSC settings and suspension firmness.
The newest electronic system for the X3 is the Performance Control feature, which shuffles 80 percent of the torque to the rear under steady-state throttle. Like Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, the BMW's system brakes the inside rear wheel and powers the outside roller to curb understeer and provide a more neutral driving feeling.
Production of the X3 will remain at BMW's Spartanburg, SC plant and sales are set to begin towards the end of the year. Hit the jump for the full details and check out the positively massive gallery of images below.
Gallery: 2011 BMW X3