2021 Volvo XC60 vs. 2020 BMW X3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 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 2020/10/21

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 Volvo XC60 offers optional built in child booster seats. They’re more crash worthy than an added child seat because of their direct attachment to the seat. BMW doesn’t offer the convenience and security of a built-in child booster seat in the X3. Their owners must carry a heavy booster seat in and out of the vehicle; XC60 owners can just fold their built-in child seat up or down.

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, crash mitigating brakes, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning, driver alert monitors, available all wheel drive and around view monitors.

Reliability

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The battery on the XC60 is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the XC60’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The X3’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

Engine

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The XC60 has more powerful engines than the X3:

Horsepower

Torque

XC60 T5 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder

250 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

XC60 T6 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder

316 HP

295 lbs.-ft.

XC60 T8 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder hybrid

400 HP

472 lbs.-ft.

XC60 T8 P.E. 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder hybrid

415 HP

494 lbs.-ft.

X3 s/xDrive30i 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder

248 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

X3 M40i 3.0 turbo 6-cylinder

355 HP

369 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Motor Trend the XC60 T5 is faster than the X3 xDrive30i:

XC60

X3

Zero to 60 MPH

6.2 sec

6.7 sec

Quarter Mile

14.7 sec

15.1 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

© 1999 - 2020 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 2020/10/21

On the EPA test cycle the XC60 T8 gets better fuel mileage than the X3 xDrive30i (56 city/57 hwy vs. 24 city/29 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the XC60 Recharge running its gasoline engine gets better fuel mileage than the X3 xDrive30i (26 city/28 hwy vs. 24 city/29 hwy).

The XC60 T8 can drive on battery power alone for up to 19 miles. The X3 must run its internal combustion engine to move.

The XC60 Hybrid’s standard fuel tank has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the X3’s standard fuel tank (18.5 vs. 17.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The XC60’s standard fuel tank has 1.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the X3 M40i’s standard fuel tank (18.8 vs. 17.7 gallons).

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

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For better stopping power the XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the X3:

XC60 T8 P. E.

X3

X3 M40i

Front Rotors

14.6 inches

13 inches

13.7 inches

The XC60 stops much shorter than the X3:

XC60

X3

60 to 0 MPH

115 feet

127 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

129 feet

138 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the XC60 has larger standard tires than the X3 (235/60R18 vs. 225/60R18). The XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the X3 (265/35R22 vs. 245/45R20).

The XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the X3’s optional 40 series front tires.

Suspension and Handling

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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 1.3 inches wider in the front and .8 inches wider in the rear than the track on the X3.

The XC60 T5 AWD Momentum handles at .87 G’s, while the X3 xDrive30i pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The XC60 T5 AWD Momentum executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1 seconds quicker than the X3 xDrive30i (26.6 seconds @ .64 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .63 average G’s).

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.

Passenger Space

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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

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The XC60 has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the X3 with its rear seat up (30.2 vs. 28.7 cubic feet). The XC60 has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the X3 with its rear seat folded (63.3 vs. 62.7 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 26 inches, while the X3’s liftover is 28.5 inches.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the XC60’s 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.

Ergonomics

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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.

Unlike the driver-only memory system in the X3, the XC60 R-Design/Inscription has a passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are optional on the XC60 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 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.

The XC60 Inscription offers optional massaging front seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging seats aren’t available in the X3.

Economic Advantages

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According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the XC60 is less expensive to operate than the X3 because it costs $336 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the XC60 than the X3, including $386 less for a water pump, $704 less for a muffler, $132 less for a starter, $87 less for fuel injection, $243 less for front struts, $740 less for a timing belt/chain and $1071 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 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 2020/10/21

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Volvo XC60 and the BMW X3, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the XC60 third among compact premium SUVs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The X3 isn’t in the top three.

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

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