What’s the Difference Between the BMW X1 and the BMW X3?

BMW builds brilliant luxury sedans and SUVs, but at this point, its SUVs are taking center stage. Two of the most popular crossovers in BMW’s current lineup are the 2020 BMW X1 and the 2020 BMW X3. Both are stylish and refined, but how would you pick between the X1 and the X3?

The BMW X1 is smaller 

A charcoal grey 2020 BMW X1 driving down the countryside.
2020 BMW X1 | BMW

Technically, the X1 is a subcompact luxury SUV, and the X3 is a compact one. The X1’s smaller size makes it easier to maneuver, but it doesn’t compromise on interior space. And as you would expect from BWM, the X1 performs well too. This crossover gets its power from 228-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission. 

The X1 is a balanced ride that’s sporty and responsive. It’s also pretty fuel-efficient for a small luxury crossover. On the inside, the X1 offers mostly high-quality materials, but its interior trimmings could be better. It comes standard with synthetic leather and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. 

BMW's X1 provides a comfortable, upscale interior.
2020 BMW X1 interior | BMW

In regards to infotainment, the X1 also does pretty well here. The iDrive interface includes an 8.8-inch touchscreen, navigation, Apple CarPlay, and HD Radio. Unfortunately, though, Android Auto is not available at all. That said, the X1 is more impressive in the advanced safety department. It comes with a long list of driver-assist features, including automatic emergency braking and speed limit recognition. 

The BMW X3 is more powerful

Gray 2020 BMW X3 M Competition crossover parked on a racetrack.
2020 BMW X3 M Competition | BMW

The X1 one is more about comfort and subtly, but the X3 is more about athletic performance. There are four different models available in the X3 lineup. Base models come with a 248-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and an eight-speed automatic transmission. This turbo-four is quick and engaging, but for a little more oomph, you’ll want to go up to the M40i variant.

The M40i has a 382-hp, 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine. And if you’re still craving a louder, faster experience, there are two performance-oriented trim levels. The X3 M has a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder that makes 473-hp. The X3 M Competition has the same engine, but it’s tuned to produce 503-hp. 

2020 BMW X3 M Competition interior, with tan-trimmed leather sport seats
2020 BMW X3 M Competition interior | BMW

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On the flip side, the X3 doesn’t have the same “wow factor” inside. The X3’s interior is undoubtedly upscale, but it’s not as bold when it comes to style. But more importantly, the X3 is comfortable and accommodating. And like the X1, the X3 comes with faux leather and a lengthy list of in-car electronics.

Deciding between the two

Pricing and power are the most significant factors to consider when deciding between the X1 and the X3. The X1 starts at $35,200, and the X3 starts at $41,950. If your priorities are luxury at a valued price, go with the X1. The X1 is more budget-friendly and ideal for those looking for an entry-level luxury model. But for a more tantalizing driving experience, it’s worth going up to the X3.