2020 Volvo XC40 vs. 2019 BMW X3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Volvo XC40 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 XC40 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 XC40 and X3 have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The XC40 offers optional 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.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The XC40 offers an optional CTA Auto Brake that use 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 XC40 and the X3 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, driver alert monitors, available blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

Reliability

The X3’s redline is at 7000 RPM, which causes more engine wear, and a greater chance of a catastrophic engine failure. The XC40 has a 6000 RPM redline.

Engine

As tested in Consumer Reports the XC40 T5 is faster than the X3 s/xDrive30i:

XC40

X3

Zero to 30 MPH

2.9 sec

3.1 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

7.3 sec

7.7 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

4.9 sec

5 sec

Quarter Mile

15.6 sec

16 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

94 MPH

92 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the XC40 gets better fuel mileage than the X3:

MPG

XC40

FWD

T4 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

23 city/33 hwy

AWD

T5 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

X3

RWD

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

23 city/30 hwy

AWD

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

22 city/29 hwy

3.0 turbo 6-cyl.

20 city/27 hwy

The XC40 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

For better stopping power the XC40’s standard front brake rotors are larger than those on the X3:

XC40

X3

Front Rotors

13.6 inches

13 inches

The XC40 stops shorter than the X3:

XC40

X3

60 to 0 MPH

125 feet

127 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

135 feet

138 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the XC40 has larger standard tires than the X3 (235/55R18 vs. 225/60R18).

The XC40’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the X3 xDrive30i’s standard 60 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

The XC40 has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The XC40’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 maneuverability, the XC40’s turning circle is 2 feet tighter than the X3 xDrive30i’s (37.4 feet vs. 39.4 feet). The XC40’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 XC40 has a greater minimum ground clearance than the X3 (8.3 vs. 8 inches), allowing the XC40 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

The Volvo XC40 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 350 to 400 pounds less than the BMW X3.

The XC40 is 11.7 inches shorter than the X3, making the XC40 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The XC40 has .6 inches more front legroom and .3 inches more rear shoulder room than the X3.

Cargo Capacity

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the XC40’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.

Towing

Maximum trailer towing in the BMW X3 is limited to 4400 pounds. The XC40 offers up to a 4630 lbs. towing capacity.

Ergonomics

The XC40 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.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are optional on the XC40 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The X3 doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the XC40 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 XC40’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 XC40 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The X3 doesn’t offer headlight washers.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the XC40 is less expensive to operate than the X3 because it costs $516 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the XC40 than the X3, including $480 less for a water pump, $599 less for a muffler, $44 less for front brake pads, $352 less for a starter, $310 less for fuel injection, $289 less for front struts, $441 less for a timing belt/chain and $1083 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

Motor Trend performed a comparison test in its January 2019 issue and they ranked the Volvo XC40 T5 R-Design AWD higher than the BMW X3 xDrive30i.

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

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