Trucks & SUVs

Should You Buy a BMW X3 or a Lexus RX 350?

The BMW X3 and the Lexus RX 350 are fighting for the same target market for the luxury four-door SUV. These two vehicles are very evenly matched in many ways. To help decide which is the best buy, we will look at a few specific categories: safety, reliability, cost, and drive experience

A BMW X3 driving on a dusty road
A BMW X3 on a test drive | Dasril Roszandi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Safety

While it may be a rather tricky thing to watch, here are the IIHS crash tests for the X3 and RX 350, respectively. 

BMW X3 crash test

Beginning with safety, the X3 was given the highest IIHS rating Top Safety Pick+, with the RX 350 right behind it as a Top Safety Pick. So the winner is the BMW but just barely. 

RX 350 crash test

Reliability

This category always seems to favor Lexus, whose parallel company Toyota, is highly respected. Another thing to keep in mind is the availability of shops that work on Lexus/Toyota always seems to be more prevalent. Reliability put the Lexus as the winner. 

2020 Lexus RX 350 | Lexus
2020 Lexus RX 350 | Lexus

Cost

The X3 is around $44,945, with the RX 350 closely matched at approximately $44,500. The Lexus RX 350 is the best selling Lexus in the US. The nicely optioned versions of each vehicle make a big difference. The BMW X3 can reach up to $76,900. With the top trim level of the Lexus RX 350 at $54,700. This put the Lexus as the clear winner. 

Drive experience 

X3 doesn’t fulfill the sporty aspect of an SUV. That said, it was given an 8.0/10 for performance by US News. The RX 350 was given a 7.4/10 in the same category. While the Lexus has an F Sport model of the 350, this should not be confused with a sports edition since it only pertains to suspension, trim, and interior design. In a head to head race, the BMW was the clear winner. 

When put head-to-head, US News declared the BMW X3 the winner, but again, barely. They rate the 2020 BMW X3 as #1 in Luxury Compact SUVs with the 2020 Lexus RX 350 right behind it at #2 in Luxury Midsize SUVs tied with the much more expensive 2020 BMW X5.

US News says, “The 2020 Lexus RX 350 ranks in the top half of the luxury midsize SUV class. It has an abundance of standard safety tech, a pillowy ride, and a potent V6 engine, but most rivals have more cargo room.”

And of the X3, they had this to say: “The 2020 BMW X3 sits near the top of our luxury compact SUV rankings. This BMW is fun to drive and features a roomy, well-built interior, making it a real contender in the class.”

So the final verdict is almost too close to call. Honestly, it comes down to the choice of the purchaser. Would you rather spend a little more and get a beefier engine that may not be as reliable, or would you like to spend a little less knowing that you are less likely to win a race of the light? Either way, these two automobiles will be the right choice.