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The X3’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Passport doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.
The X3 has standard Active Protection, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Passport doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.
The X3 offers an optional Surround View to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Passport only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.
The X3’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Passport doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.
Both the X3 and the Passport have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.
For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the X3 its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 36 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Passport has not been tested, yet.
The X3 comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Passport’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.
The X3’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Passport’s (12 vs. 5 years).
BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the X3 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Honda doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Passport.
A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the X3’s engine. A rubber belt that needs periodic replacement drives the Passport’s camshafts. If the Passport’s cam drive belt breaks the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Honda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 15 more problems per 100 vehicles, Honda is ranked 23rd, below the industry average.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Honda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 13 more problems per 100 vehicles, Honda is ranked 12th.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Honda vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW 7 places higher in reliability than Honda.
The X3 M40i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 75 more horsepower (355 vs. 280) and 107 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 262) than the Passport’s 3.5 SOHC V6.
Regenerative brakes improve the X3’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Passport doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.
The X3 M40i’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Passport doesn’t offer launch control.
The X3’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Passport are solid, not vented.
The X3’s optional 245/40R21 front and 275/35R21 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series front and 35 series rear profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Passport Touring/Elite’s 45 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the X3 offers optional 21-inch wheels. The Passport’s largest wheels are only 20-inches.
Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the X3 can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Passport doesn’t offer run-flat tires.
The X3 has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Passport’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.
The X3 offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Passport’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the X3’s wheelbase is 1.8 inches longer than on the Passport (112.8 inches vs. 111 inches).
The X3 is 4.6 inches shorter than the Passport, making the X3 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.
The front grille of the X3 uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Passport doesn’t offer active grille shutters.
The X3’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Passport’s (4400 vs. 3500 pounds).
The X3 uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Passport uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.
The engine in the X3 is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Passport. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.
J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that BMW service is better than Honda. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 48% lower rating, Honda is ranked 25th.
The X3 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Passport doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
The power windows standard on both the X3 and the Passport have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the X3 is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Passport prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.
The X3’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Passport’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.
The X3’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Honda only offers heated mirrors on the Passport EX-L/Touring/Elite.
The X3’s power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The Passport’s power mirror controls are on the dash, hidden behind the steering wheel, where they are awkward to manipulate.
The X3’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Passport doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
Consumer Reports® chose the BMW X3 as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance.
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