2020 Lexus RX Series vs. 2019 BMW X3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Lexus RX Series 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 Lexus RX Series 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.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The RX Series offers optional Auto Brake that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The X3 doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

Both the RX Series and the X3 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

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Lexus’ powertrain warranty covers the RX Series 2 years and 20,000 miles longer than BMW covers the X3. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the X3 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

Reliability

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A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the RX Series’ reliability 18 points higher than the X3.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the RX Series first among midsize premium suvs in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The X3 isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are better in initial quality than BMW vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus 8th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 12 more problems per 100 vehicles, BMW is ranked 20th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than BMW vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus first in reliability, above the industry average. With 16 more problems per 100 vehicles, BMW is ranked 7th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than BMW vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. BMW is ranked 8th.

Engine

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The RX 350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 47 more horsepower (295 vs. 248) and 10 lbs.-ft. more torque (268 vs. 258) than the X3 s/xDrive30i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the RX Series gets better fuel mileage than the X3:

MPG

RX Series

AWD

450h 3.5 DOHC V6

31 city/28 hwy

X3

RWD

sDrive30i 2.0 Turbo 4-cyl.

23 city/30 hwy

AWD

xDrive30i 2.0 Turbo 4-cyl.

22 city/29 hwy

M40i 3.0 Turbo V6

20 city/27 hwy

The RX Series’ standard fuel tank has 1.5 gallons more fuel capacity than the X3 M40i’s standard fuel tank (19.2 vs. 17.7 gallons).

Transmission

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The RX 450h has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The X3 doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

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The RX Series stops shorter than the X3:

RX Series

X3

60 to 0 MPH

123 feet

127 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the RX Series has larger tires than the X3 (235/65R18 vs. 225/60R18).

Suspension and Handling

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The RX 350 executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the X3 xDrive30i (27.1 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .63 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the RX Series’ turning circle is .6 feet tighter than the X3 xDrive30i’s (38.8 feet vs. 39.4 feet). The RX Series’ turning circle is .9 feet tighter than the X3 M40i’s (38.8 feet vs. 39.7 feet).

For greater off-road capability the RX Series has a greater minimum ground clearance than the X3 (8.2 vs. 8 inches), allowing the RX Series to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Passenger Space

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The RX Series has 3.8 inches more front legroom, .2 inches more front shoulder room, 1.6 inches more rear legroom and 1.6 inches more rear shoulder room than the X3.

Cargo Capacity

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To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the RX Series’ available liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, 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.

Servicing Ease

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J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Lexus service is better than BMW. J.D. Power ranks Lexus second in service department satisfaction. With a 34% lower rating, BMW is ranked 11th.

Ergonomics

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The RX Series 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 RX Series’ standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and 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 RX Series 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.

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

Optional air-conditioned seats in the RX Series 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.

The RX Series offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The X3 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Economic Advantages

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According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the RX Series is less expensive to operate than the X3 because it costs $345 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the RX Series than the X3, including $494 less for a muffler, $23 less for front brake pads, $1 less for a starter, $233 less for fuel injection, $127 less for a fuel pump and $382 less for front struts.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/10/21

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Lexus RX Series and the BMW X3, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Lexus RX Series outsold the BMW X3 by 36% during 2018.

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

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