<!--:es-->BMW X3  THE ULTIMATE MOM MACHINE?<!--:-->


by Cindy Stagg


It’s no secret; I like BMWs. I’ve liked them since I was old enough to say “kidney-shaped emblem.” But I’m all grown up now; more mature. I have to look at this car from the perspective of a grown woman with two young children. Does the X3 fit the bill as the ultimate mom machine?

Besides the fact that it looks really good sitting in my driveway, it’s lower to the ground, making getting in and out easy for everyone in the family. Once everyone is buckled in, the best feature is the panoramic sunroof. While the weather was too cold to actually open it, we left it uncovered all week. It gave the kids a lot to look at, making for very un-boring rides, according to my nine-year-old. This, coming from a kid who’s disappointed when the current car I’m testing doesn’t have a DVD player.

The rear cargo area is downright spacious compared to other SUVs this size, and easily holds all the items necessary for a birthday party at the local park. I would have liked to have seen some smaller storage areas up front; for instance, there was no convenient place to keep my sunglasses or my clip-less garage door opener. We moms seem to have lots of loose items to hang onto and some storage up front would be nice. The other thing I didn’t like was the navigation screen, operated by a dial about a mile away from said screen, closer to the passenger side. It wasn’t intuitive to use, so I left the screen closed 80% of the time.

Just give me a touch-screen and let me be on my way. And just one heads up for you moms out there – the black leather interior is nice, but it shows every bit of dirt your kids’ shoes can hold.

The 3.0-liter engine is more than ample for the X3, though it seems to be missing some of that oomph you get when driving a BMW sedan. Still, it accelerates quickly and smoothly, and will get up and go on demand.

My X3 came with the automatic 6-speed transmission. I noticed that when cruising through my neighborhood at, say, 25 mph or less, it seemed to want to hang out in third gear, revving at around 3,000 rpm. I often found myself switching to steptronic mode just so I could shift it myself. I’d say this tranny is definitely happier at higher speeds.

BMW’s X-Drive is another handy feature – I cruised down a battered, wet, and very muddy road without even thinking about whether or not all four wheels were driving. True to its heritage, the X3 was happiest on a cruise through a winding, hilly canyon. The steering, suspension, and power combined for a thrilling and sure-footed driving experience.

If I had my choice of Beemers, there’d be a 6 Series convertible parked in my garage. However, for a young, active family that likes to get up and go, I’d say the X3 fits the bill just fine.