2019 BMW X3 M40i essentials: Small, sporty and good-looking

Our Opinion: The big four players in this arena are the Lexus NX, Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC and this X3. The NX is a little smaller (the bigger Lexus RX gets an optional third row now), as is the Q5. Our X3 is the upgraded M40i, which runs up more specifically against the Audi SQ5 with 354 hp and the midgrade Mercedes-AMG GLC43 delivering 362 hp. The V8-powered GLC63 obviously blows it out of the water with 469 hp. The NX, Acura RDX and the X3 all sell at about the same rate.
If you want the sportiest small SUV you can get, you have to upgrade to the Mercedes-AMG GLC63 or the new X3 M. If you want the most comfortable, it’s probably the Mercedes base model or the Lexus NX. However, if you’re looking for a balanced, sporty SUV and want to land in the reasonable mid-50s price range, the choice is between the SQ5, this X3 M40i and the GLC43.
On looks, I’m picking the X3 over the Audi, but the SQ5 isn’t an ugly duckling. The X3 has a stronger, squared-off front end and probably looks tougher all the way around. The Audi is a little more slight, curvy and futuristic looking. They both sort of look like the same car as their respective previous models, so if you want something that “looks brand new” you might have to find something else.
Inside, and boy I hate to bang this drum again, but I will: The Mercedes feels more luxurious than the rest; I’d put the Lexus second. The materials in the Mercedes look and feel nicer, but the tech is so cutting edge it’s almost too much. The BMW gets the overall nod in infotainment ease of use. This X3 gets a huge sunroof too, which I love, except for weeks when the temps stay around 90 degrees and even with the AC on you feel like you’re getting cooked.