The BMW X3 Is Still Chasing Highs From 2021
When the BMW X3 first came out for the 2004 model year, it was the first SUV of its kind. It kicked off the compact luxury SUV trend that spawned rivals like the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class (now the GLC-Class), the Audi Q5, and many more. This “Sports Activity Vehicle” followed in the footsteps of the midsize X5, and it continues as the German luxury brand’s compelling compact SUV offering.
Since the BMW X3 is the original compact luxury SUV and still one of the best, one would expect it to be the best-seller in its class. So, is it?
How are the BMW X3 sales numbers?
Sales of the BMW X3 have been in a bit of a slump compared to a few years ago. According to data on GoodCarBarCar, BMW has sold 27,745 units of the X3 in the first half of 2023. BMW is on track to sell fewer X3 SUVs in 2023 than in 2022, when it sold 65,800 units. The year before that was the best sales year on record for the X3; 75,858 were sold in 2021.
The BMW X3 sells pretty well, but it’s surprising that it doesn’t sell better. GCBC shows that it’s outsold by its two big German rivals, the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class and the Audi Q5. It’s also outsold by the sales leader in this class: the Lexus NX.
Why can’t the X3 outsell Mercedes-Benz or Audi?
There are a few reasons why the BMW X3 can’t outsell the Mercedes-Benz GLC or the Audi Q5. For one thing, Mercedes-Benz sells more vehicles, in general, than BMW. In most years, Mercedes-Benz has been outselling BMW in the U.S. market since the early 2000s. This would naturally also apply to the compact SUV class.
However, the same is not true for Audi. According to CarSalesBase, BMW has sold more than 300,000 vehicles in the U.S. every year from 2013-2021. On the other hand, Audi has an annual sales volume in the U.S. of around 200,000 units.
The Audi Q5 may be more popular than the BMW X3 because it comes standard with all-wheel drive and has a lower starting price. The Audi also gets slightly better fuel economy. The practical benefits of the Audi could sway the discerning luxury SUV shopper comparing the Q5 and X3 side-by-side.
The BMW X3 may also be seeing some cannibalization from other BMW SUVs. BMW has a whopping eight SUVs in its lineup, including two EVs. Buyers who would normally be attracted to the X3 may opt for the more affordable X1, the sportier X4, or the bigger X5.
Is this BMW X3 luxury SUV a good value in its class?
Even though the BMW X3 is outsold by its closest rivals, there’s a lot to love about this luxury SUV. It does an excellent job translating the BMW driving experience into a practical compact SUV. It is, indeed, the BMW 3 Series of SUVs. It even has stellar performance variants in the form of the M40i and X3 M.
There are many great options in this competitive class, but the BMW X3 has a distinct personality that its rivals can’t match.