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Roadfly Magazine
Chef Alton Brown: BMWs, Books, Good Eats & Iron Chef America
Issue Fourteen
November 8, 2004
Alton Brown:
Talks Bikes, Books, & Good Eats
Helmet Guide:
What to Look For
2004 BMW X3 2.5i Sport
2005 Chrysler 300C Hemi
iPod FM Transmitter Review
Coming Next Issue
Chip Foose
BMW 760Li
VW Phaeton W12
Prepare for Winter

2004 BMW X3 2.5i Sport
The Younger X Does BMW Proud

BMW X3 Large 18" wheels were surprisingly good in off-road environment.

2004 BMW X3 3.0i interior

BMW X3 Optional headlamp washers round out our package.

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The X3 supplies hill descent control, an option that automatically provides controlled descents under slippery conditions, requiring no pedal input from the driver. Place the X3 in hill descent mode, and the X3 automatically modulates the brakes to help descend the steepest and most slippery of hills without any drama.

Speaking of drama (or lack thereof), both the brakes and the 5-speed automatic transmission performed flawlessly. The brakes were typical BMW - stellar, with great bite, control and feedback. We hauled our X3 from 70 to 0 in just 153-feet, which is amazing for a vehicle of this size. The ZF-sourced transmission offers three modes: sport, normal and manual, and true to our race-loving nature, we chose the sport mode and liked it best. Shifts were precise and crisp, and in sport mode, the transmission held its gears longer and downshifted with more precision.

All in all, we really enjoyed the BMW X3 2.5i, and were especially impressed by its off-road manners. We've read the complaints from other journalists about the ride quality, the power (or supposed lack thereof), and the viability of a small Bavarian sport-ute, but we think they're full of hooey. We found the 2004 BMW X3 to be purposeful, fun and competent, offering a great compromise between sport, utility and practicality. So whether you think of it as a smaller brother to the X5 or a bigger brother to the 3-series wagon, think of it as we did - fondly.

- Great off-road ride, with superb traction and handling
- Seamless xDrive system and automatic transmission
- Excellent interior room with typical BMW ergonomics
- Superb brakes
- Great driving dynamics
- No iDrive

- 2.5-liter could use a little more oomph
- Tinny sound/feel to doors
- Price can escalate quickly as options are added

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