Compact BMW X3 or X5 Midsize? What’s the Better Bimmer?

BMW’s X series of SUVs have, like their 3, 5, and 7-series car counterparts, set a standard for SUVs. In many ways, the X3 has become the go-to compact luxury SUV, while the BMW X5 is the go-to for midsize luxury SUVs. While the X3 SUV was significantly updated for 2022, the X5 has not been redesigned since 2019. Both are great SUVs, but which one fits your needs, the BMW X3 or X5?

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Consumer Reports recommends both, but not J.D. Power

a 2022 BMW X3 on a dock
2022 BMW X3 | BMW

Both the BMW X3 and X5 are recommended by Consumer Reports. The magazine praised the X3’s driving and quiet cabin but dinged it on reliability. Same thing for the X5. The current versions of the SUVs, the X5 was last redesigned in 2019 and the X3 for 2022, both saw improvements over their previous versions. J.D. Power does not rank either in the top three in their respective classes in its initial quality survey, but they do rank highly.

The X5 is the big X3

2022 BMW X5 in blue on a track. Either the BMW X3 or BMW X5 can be ordered in a fast M version.
2022 BMW X5 | BMW

The big difference between a BMW X3 or X5 is the size. The BMW X4 is the “coupe” version of the X3, and it loses space in the back thanks to its sportier sloping roof. The X5 is the bigger of the two Bimmer SUVs, but both have five seats and five doors. Ironically, the X3 has more legroom than the X5, by about an inch in front and back. But, the X5 can hold 72.3 cubic feet of stuff with the seats folded down, that’s 10 more than the X3. For comparison, the 2023 RAV4 holds 69.8 cubic feet of stuff with its seats folded.

How much does a BMW X3 or X5 cost?

The BMW X3 seats five comfortably, but the X5 will hold more stuff.
2022 BMW X3 | BMW

The X5 comes in four versions but they’re all highly customizable. The core model is the X5 sDrive40i or xDrive40i, which starts at $60,600. In BMW speak the s drive is two-wheel drive, while the x means all-wheel drive. If you add an e to the end, you get the X5 xDrive45e, which is a plug-in hybrid that starts at $63,700. Add the M and you get two versions, the X5 M50i, which starts at $82,800, and the top-level X5 M starts at $106,100 with a twin-turbo V8. The X5 M packs 617 horsepower and with the Competition package can hit 60 mph in 3.8 seconds.

The X3 is smaller and less expensive than an X5, which can be ordered with three rows. The X3 also comes in four versions; the $43,700 X3 sDrive30i and the $45,700 X3 xDrive30i are the same SUV with a turbocharged four-cylinder but the sDrive is the two-wheel-drive version, while the x denotes an all-wheel drive. Step up to the turbocharged six-cylinder in the X3 M40i for $57,800 and the X3 M top performance edition is $70,100. Three years of scheduled maintenance is covered on any 2023 BMW X3 or X5.

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The BMW X3 was updated for 2023

The all-new interior of the BMW X3 for 2022.
2022 BMW X3 interior | BMW

The X3 was redesigned in 2022 with some significant updates. The biggest updates to the X3, which had remained the same since 2018, are on the interior. The new one has the new iDrive system that now supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as well as a redesigned console that ditches the CD player. On the outside, the 2022 has a larger grille and new headlights. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine remains the same.

The BMW X5 2023 model can be ordered as a PHEV

Dashboard and front seats in 2023 BMW X5, which was recently updated.
2023 BMW X5 | BMW

The plug-in-hybrid concept is great because you can tootle around in all-electric mode and only use the gas engine if you need it. The X5 xDrive 45e has a turbocharged six-cylinder engine that is mated to a 111-horsepower electric motor. The PHEV can go 30 miles on all-electric power. Older versions of the X3 were PHEV-powered, but the option was dropped.

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There’s one special edition X5 for 2022

2022 X5 special Black Vermillion edition in black and red.
2022 BMW X5 | BMW

The X5 Black Vermillion is a black with red trim X5 with standard M Sport goodies. The Black Vermillion also has different bumpers, 22-inch wheels, a special M exhaust and a piano-black interior finish. The easy way to spot an X5 Black Vermillion, though, is by its aggressive grille with red teeth.

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