Suburban Dad: 2007 BMW X3


It wasn’t hard to get the kids to enjoy the BMW X3: They became fixated on, and fought over, the heated second-row seats. Or, as they called them, the “butt warmers.”

As for my wife and I, we loved the interior and the X3’s look, but thought it was just a little small for our family of five. Still, for the X3, maybe we could ship off one of the kids…

Having driven plenty of BMW sedans over the years, all the usual markers were in place. The beautiful interior, the nice attention to detail in the upholstery, the snazzy looks. There are plenty of creature comforts as well, although BMW doesn’t have the best icons to tell you each button’s function. Whoever decided the power door lock button should be located under the hazard lights button, and not on the driver and front passenger doors, ought to be smacked. That little mystery took me more than 90 minutes to figure out; at one point, I wound up using the key fob to unlock the doors — from inside the car!

There were some other little annoyances:

The navigation system isn’t a touch-screen, and having the interface control so far removed from the screen was not intuitive either. In addition, to make choices in the interface — which is a different setup than the much maligned iDrive — you turn the knob to the left (counter-clockwise) to move down the options. I’m pretty sure most U.S. drivers would expect to turn the knob clockwise to move down the list. Oh well.
Really, the worst thing about the X3 was the transmission in slow-speed situations. Since I was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic going home, I felt the problem a lot. The transmission really stuttered when shifting through first and into second. It would rev up, then sputter just a bit before kicking forward when it moved into second. I don’t know if it was just this vehicle (always a possibility) or something more endemic to X3s. By the time I’d spent an hour in the X3, the habit was driving me nuts. Even my daughter could sense it whenever we started from a hard stop.

Still, the ride was very smooth and the huge sunroof was impressive, letting in a ton of light on a gray January morning. When I needed to pass at highway speeds, the X3 responded quickly and nimbly.

The Wife: She found the ride extremely comfortable and didn’t notice the transmission lag as much as I did. She liked how the controls were laid out, but wondered, “What makes this car worth 50 grand?” To her mind, yes, she’d buy it if we were in the market for a high-end small SUV with the BMW nameplate. But she said she would happily give up the nice interior, sharp looks and nav system in exchange for a new RAV4 or CR-V…and the extra dough.

The Kids:
OK, I could list them one-by-one, but really, as far as this car is concerned, what would be the point? The talk was all “butt warmers,” all the time. The kids admired the X3 for its comfort and looks, but what they really loved were the heated seats. “Dad,” Teen Son observed, “my butt is sweating.” The 10-Year-Old Son weighed in with, “If we ever get this car, we have to get them to put a butt warmer in the middle.” In fact, that lack of a third (middle) heated seat led to a bitter battle between the Tweener Daughter and the 10-Year-Old. They might not be over it yet.

Would we buy this car? There’s a lot to be said for it, and other than the transmission and the limited space in the backseat, I’d vote yes. It likely already does well with suburban parents of small families, especially considering it has a ton of space in the cargo area for groceries and whatnot. For those who want the BMW nameplate and are willing to pay for the fancy extras, this could be their car.

By Suburban Dad | January 29, 2007 | Comments (22)


Marty Neilan

" was just a little small for our family of five."
"The transmission really stuttered when shifting through first and into second."
“What makes this car worth 50 grand?”
For that price, the suburban family could have TWO minivans that would each serve their needs better than the X3. And this IS 2007, so all performance myths about minivans should now be dispelled.

and our suburban dad actually does own a minivan.

50 grand could get an escalade...


I wouldn't have used the word "beautiful" to describe the interior. Good build quality or well put together, maybe, but it is very plain looking.

BMW lock and window buttons are almost always in the center console. The idea is that you can keep one hand on the steering wheel, while the other hand shifts / operates the buttons.

my wife and i went out this past weekend and looked at a bunch of small premium wagons and the only two 'entry lux' small suv's - this and the new acura rdx.

i sat in, but didn't drive the X3 because the dealership was very busy and we didn't feel like waiting. i'm sure it drives great. but the acura RDX blew it away for comfort, looks (a matter of opinion, i realize) and tech-gadget coolness. that was the one that made my jaw drop, and it's 10k less. a no-brainer.

oh, and i forgot to mention above, the rdx also has honda reliability


Yeah.. that is why I passed on the X3 as much as I love BMWs, and got the LR2 instead. The touch screen navigation is great, the 14 speaker surround sound with 7.1 channels definitely and audiophile's dream. The rear seats can fold flat, the X3 cannot. The off-road capability is nice to have too.


We got our beautiful blue on beige 2007 X3 about four months ago, and simply love it. The only options it has are heated front seats, heated steering wheel and privacy glass, so it was about $42K. The vinyl seats feel better than the leather I had in my 2002 Jetta, and the only thing I really wish it had was xenon lights. Our last SUV was a 2002 Mercedes ML500 with the 288hp V8, but this six cylinder is amazing, and I love the manual mode automatic transmission. We are averaging about 20mpg, with mostly stop and go driving. Incedentally, I leased the car for 360/mth, 12K/year, 24mths with $3K out of my pocket. From what I have seen recently, even for less expemsive SUV's like the Honda CR-V, it was a great deal.


I am now driving my 2nd BMW X3 (a 2007 that I got after trading in my 2004 model) and I love it just like I did the 2004 except for one thing -- the herky-jerky transmission. It is especially bad when I let off the gas on an up-hill slope (like at the stop-sign just before entering my neighborhood every night). It does 3 little jerk before coming to a stop. My 04 was a 2.5liter engine which they don't offer any more and the new model has a 6-speed tranny, but I thought that should make it shift more smoothly. I've taken it in to the dealer once and they reloaded the tranny software and implemented a service bulletin on the transmission but it's no better. Is anyone else experiencing this problem?


Yes! Our 2007 X3 is in the shop today for the 4th time because of the transmission. It behaves just like yours, Diane. The first 2 times, the dealership did not change any thing because they said they couldn't replicate the problem. The third time they reset the computer's memory (the part that adapts to your driving style) and the transmission was better for about a week. Now, the 4th time, they say that it is software related and they will update it. If that doesn't help, we are going to take a different approach - BMW corporation. As another post said, this is NOT the ultimate driving machine.


Our 2008 X3 has the same automatic transmission symptoms mentioned here, the dealer says that BMW is working on a fix, and in the meanwhile we have a $40,000 piece of garage furniture. They claim BMW will have a software fix in mid-March.


The 07 and 08 automatic have tranny problems. Do not wait for BMWNA to fix with updates this has been going on for over a year. The tranny is bad. Please check the NHTSA site for complaints and recalls and file a complaint.
BMWNA is now buying back a number of vehicles to avoid getting Lemon Law complaints on record. There are hundreds of people with this problem. Check a website called "" Don't let the dealer tell you all AWD's drive that way. Or it must be your driving style, etc....


I have been so terribly disappointed in the 2007 X3 I'm leasing. I paid a lot of money thinking BMW stood for quality and performance, and in the event there was a problem they would make it right. The automatic transmission is awful, it's herky jerky, has rough shifts and unexpected dips in power when you need it. I drove a 2006 X3 the other day and it's absolutely perfect -- smooth and instant power and acceleration. I don't know what's wrong with the 2007+ X3's transmission, but I am so shocked at BMW's failure to fix it and seeming indifference to the bad quality that I will never EVER purchase a BMW again. And BMW, you'd better believe I let everyone know about your quality and lack of customer service.


I own the 2007 X3, for the first 10,000 km's it was great. Then in one quick moment there was a thump and I was sitting at the side of the road. The car looked great, sounded great however the transmission made its mind up to strike. It would not recognize drive, reverse anything. I took it to the dealer. I was told there was a software update required. Four days later I have it back and the transmission is slow and embarrassing at lower speeds and hard shifting down when braking.

This has become frequent where having passengers is no longer fun. Lets face it, it was nice to show off my BMW and drive friends around and now I get comments regarding how crappy my transmission is. My car is 17 months old and on trips we take our Saturn which is more reliable. There needs to be a recall for this car. Please if you are reading this and you are only on your first "software update" for the transmission. Write to BMW Corporation and let them know this is not acceptable for a 'high end' Service Oriented Company.

Though its a small but it Prestigious.


Roger Wineinger

My 2007 x3 makes a whiny noise at 35 to 40 and at 65. Dealer tells me this is normal drivetrain noise. It drives me nuts since most driving is between 35-40.

Anyone else had this problem?


Who doesn't like this car?


The X3 automatic transmission problem is also in the 2009's. It does what these do to the nth degree.

It makes the ride at low speeds so bouncy and wobbly that things actually fly off the seats/floor while some cars are unable to accelerate promptly. The downshifting while decelerating to a stop is severe enough to have items slide off the seats. There is also a problem accelerating slowly onto a hill. The problem appears to be in the lower gears and in some cars only. The same problem is also said to be in the GM6 AT in other cars like the 3 series sedan. I don't know this for sure.

See for an entire thread devoted to this subject in the 2007-2009s.

Most cars do not appear to have this problem or perhaps their owners think it is 'normal' for a $40K-$50K BMW SAV to act in this manner. If this is normal, it isn't good.

It is so bumpy that it is unacceptable for passengers and not fun for the driver either. There are some software fixes that appear to fix the problem entirely for some but only temporarily or not at all for others.

It may be a problem with the 'learning' or adaptive system but it may just be a really bad design that is unacceptable in a car that costs this much. My two cents on the unacceptability. People have to decide for themselves what they find important.

Look up 2007 X3's, power train for this problem and see the thread.

I think it's not styles..

Its Really a beautiful car

Randomly browsing the good blogs, I went to yours. Truly speaking,I’m sure I’d visit here more often.Great job, keep posting interesting articles here. All The Best


My 2007 X3 (which I love) feels bouncy in the front. Sometimes worse than others but I just feel it does... Is this a big issue for this car? I just bought it a week ago and I really like everything about it but wanted to know more info about this... HELP!!!

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