2019 Volvo XC60 vs. 2018 BMW X3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Volvo XC60 have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The BMW X3 doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Volvo XC60 are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW X3 doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

Both the XC60 and X3 have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The XC60 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The X3’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The XC60’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 X3 doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the XC60 and the X3 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.


The X3’s redline is at 7000 RPM, which causes more engine wear, and a greater chance of a catastrophic engine failure. The XC60 has a 6000 RPM redline.


The XC60 has more powerful engines than the X3:




XC60 T5 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

250 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

XC60 T6 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

316 HP

295 lbs.-ft.

XC60 T8 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid

400 HP

472 lbs.-ft.

X3 xDrive30i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

248 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

X3 M40i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

355 HP

369 lbs.-ft.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the XC60 T8 running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the X3 xDrive30i (60 city/58 hwy MPGe vs. 22 city/29 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the XC60 T8 running its gasoline engine gets better fuel mileage than the X3 xDrive30i (26 city/28 hwy vs. 22 city/29 hwy).

The XC60 T8 can drive on battery power alone for up to 14 miles. The X3 must run its internal combustion engine to move.

The XC60 has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The X3 doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

The XC60 stops shorter than the X3:





60 to 0 MPH

124 feet

128 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

129 feet

138 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the XC60 has larger standard tires than the X3 (235/60R18 vs. 225/60R18). The XC60’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the X3 (255/45R20 vs. 245/45R20).

Suspension and Handling

The XC60 T6/T8 has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The XC60’s height leveling suspension allows the driver to raise ride height for better off-road clearance and then lower it again for easier entering and exiting and better on-road handling. The X3 doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the XC60 is 1.5 inches wider in the front and 1.1 inches wider in the rear than the track on the X3.

For better maneuverability, the XC60’s turning circle is 2 feet tighter than the X3 xDrive30i’s (37.4 feet vs. 39.4 feet). The XC60’s turning circle is 2.3 feet tighter than the X3 M40i’s (37.4 feet vs. 39.7 feet).

For greater off-road capability the XC60 has a greater minimum ground clearance than the X3 (8.5 vs. 8 inches), allowing the XC60 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.


The Volvo XC60 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 200 to 250 pounds less than the BMW X3.

Passenger Space

The XC60 has 1.2 inches more front legroom, .6 inches more front shoulder room, 1.6 inches more rear legroom and .3 inches more rear shoulder room than the X3.

Cargo Capacity

The XC60 has a much larger cargo area than the X3 with its rear seat up (30.2 vs. 28.7 cubic feet).

A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the XC60 easier. The XC60’s cargo hatch lift-over height is 24.3 inches, while the X3’s liftover is 28.5 inches.

The XC60’s cargo area is larger than the X3’s in almost every dimension:




Length to seat (2nd/1st)






To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the XC60’s available liftgate can be opened and closed just by waving your foot, leaving your hands completely free. The X3 doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.


The XC60 has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The X3 doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The XC60’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The X3 doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the XC60 has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the X3 only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

Consumer Reports rated the XC60’s headlight performance “Very Good,” a higher rating than the X3’s headlights, which were rated “Fair.”

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The XC60 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The X3 doesn’t offer headlight washers.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the XC60 Inscription keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The X3 doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

Model Availability

The XC60 is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The X3 doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the XC60 is less expensive to operate than the X3 because it costs $333 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the XC60 than the X3, including $369 less for a water pump, $666 less for a muffler, $123 less for a starter, $83 less for fuel injection, $241 less for front struts, $719 less for a timing belt/chain and $1049 less for a power steering pump.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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