Since the introduction of the BMW X SAV they have been fast selling models. The X3 was actually BMW's best-selling model in the United States in 2019. Given the X3 is a popular car it makes sense that the X4 is a common comparison. BMW X3 vs X4 models share many similarities, but also have a number of important differences. In this article, we discuss BMW X3 vs X4 specs, price, performance, reliability, and more.
X3 vs X4 Basic Info
Both the X3 and X4 are Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV). However, BMW instead refers to the X3 as a Sport Activity Vehicle (SAV) and the X4 as a Sports Activity Coupe (SAC). The X4 is still a 5 door SUV but it uses styling elements similar to a coupe - notably the sloping roof. X4 models are even built off the same design & chassis as the X3.
Anyways, the X3 dates back to MY 2004 while the X4 did not come around until MY 2015. This is an important aspect of the BMW X3 vs X4 comparison. Most people likely aren't comparing a 2004 X3 to a 2015 X4. As such, we will exclude some older X3 models from the bulk of this discussion.
It's still important to consider older models to help drive home specific points. So, we will include some references to older BMW X3's. To paint the full picture let's first start with the chassis and model year info.
BMW X3 & X4 Chassis
The X3 is broken down by the following chassis and model year:
- 2004-2010 X3 (E83)
- 2011-2014 X3 (F25)
- 2015-2017 X3 (F25 LCI)
- 2018-pres. X3 (G01)
Our primary focus in this article is the 2015+ F25 models as well as the 2018+ G01 X3. The F25 chassis actually dates back to 2011, but it went through an LCI (Life Cycle Impulse) facelift for MY 2015. Focusing on these X3's help paint a fair comparison with the X4.
BMW X4 models are of the following chassis and years:
- 2015-2018 X4 (F26)
- 2019-pres. X4 (G02)
You'll notice the chassis codes with the BMW X3 vs X4 are very similar. After all, they are built upon the same platform and share much of the same basic styling. One major difference off the bat is the fact the X4 is 1 year behind the X3.
BMW X3 vs X4 Price
Before purchasing a BMW X SUV price is likely one of the most important topics. Which models are in the budget? What's the difference in MSRP? What about the price difference when buying used? Let's jump in and address these topics.
A 2022 base model X3 starts at $43,700 while the X4 starts at $51,800. However, the base model X3 is rear-wheel drive while the base X4 is all-wheel drive. If you look at the AWD X3 the price climbs to $45,700. For the M40i or M models the price difference shrinks to less than $5,000. However, it's still a significant price difference for similar SAV's.
The X4 is intended to be a higher-end model than the X3, so the price difference makes some sense. Remember, the X4 has things like AWD and sport suspension standard. There's also a larger touchscreen and instrument cluster on the X4. Point is - the BMW X3 vs X4 price difference is there for a reason. Is it worth paying the extra, though?
When it comes to brand new cars we would probably argue for no. There are too many similarities to justify a $6,100 gap between the X3 xDrive30i and X4 xDrive30i, in our opinion. However, the price gap does close when looking at used models.
Used X Prices
In the used market price gaps tend to shrink. Generally, the older the model the more the price gap shrinks. However, that's not exactly the case with the BMW X3 vs X4. Some of it likely comes down to the fact that we're looking at 2015+ models. Another aspect is likely that the X4 is much less popular, which helps keep prices up a bit.
We researched these used car prices with a few filters: fewer than 70,000 miles, no accidents or damage, and clean titles. Using this, most 2015-2016 X4 models come in around $26,000 to $35,000. Similar X3's will run you about $20,000 to $30,000. In other words, the BMW X3 vs X4 price difference of about $4,000 to $6,000+ holds true in the used market too.
Looking at older X3 models to compare price isn't completely fair. However, the X3 does date back well before 2015. This means there are plenty of opportunities to get into an X3 for even less money if the budget doesn't allow for 2015+ models. It would also mean the X4 is out of the question.
Price Is the Main Difference
To be honest, price is the primary difference between the two SAV's. Much of the rest is very similar. However, it's important we address more topics about the BMW X3 vs X4. This will help paint the full picture and help you make an informed decision on which BMW SAV is right for you.
BMW X Engines
We're looking at performance as a whole here, so there are a few primary topics within. Engines, power, weight, and handing. Starting with engines - the BMW X3 vs X4 share the same exact engine options when looking at the same year and chassis. For the sake of not getting overly complex we're not including diesel engines here. Anyways, here's the breakdown:
F25 X3 & F26 X4
The F25 X3 also has some other engine options like the N52 naturally aspirated engine. However, this is only available in 2011-2012 models (before the X4's time). Anyways, this is the performance topic so the above links direct to performance/bolt-on mod guides. We will also provide the same for the newer G chassis just below.
G01 X3 & G02 X4
- B48 inline-4 turbo (20i and 30i models)
- B58 inline-6 turbo (M40i models)
- S58 inline-6 twin turbo (X3 M and X4 M)
You'll notice these engines are similar to the older generation X3 vs X4. The N20 and B48 are both 2.0L turbo engines and the latter is simply the newer engine. That also applies to the N55 and B58. However, the G chassis adds in the M models with the (what will likely be one of the most legendary engines ever) S58 twin turbo engine.
BMW X3 vs X4 Performance
If the engine options are the same and the X3 & X4 are built on the same platform they should deliver similar performance, right? Exactly. Model for model, BMW claims the exact same 0-60 time for the X3 vs X4. For example, the 2022 X3 M40i and X4 M40i both deliver 0-60 times of 4.4 seconds. As a side note - that's pretty darn quick for an SAV, and the M models deliver an even more impressive 3.9s 0-60.
These are both impressive performance SAV's. Even if the X3 or X4 edges the other out by a couple tenths of a second it's nothing you'll notice in the real world. Ultimately, straight-line performance is so similar that it should not be a factor in your BMW X3 vs X4 decision.
The biggest factor is the specific year and engine. BMW's newest B-series engines generally offer more performance and potential than their predecessors. Then there's the addition of the absolutely insane S58 engine in M models.
X3 & X4 Handling
Despite the sportier looks of the X4 these SUV's clock in at roughly the same weight. OK. So, now we have cars with the same engine, same platform, and same weight. Handling should be nearly identical, right? Yes and no.
This is where things get a bit more interesting and tend to favor the BMW X4. The base X3 receives standard BMW suspension while an X4 gets the M Sport suspension. On base model cars this gives the X4 a slight edge. However, M Sport suspension is an option on the base X3. Of course, that will begin to close the price gap of the BMW X3 vs X4.
However, M Sport suspension is standard on higher-end models like the M40i and M. These models do have the smaller price difference from the factory, but it's still to the tune of about $3,500 to $4,000+.
Back to the initial point - the X3 and X4 both deliver very similar handling. The X4 has a small edge in some situations, but it still shouldn't be enough to sway your decision one way or the other. A common theme seems to be in the works here.
X3/X4 Interior & Features
This is another area where the X4 earns a slight edge. It's simply the higher-end BMW in terms of standard features. That's not to say the X3 doesn't have its fair share of technology and features, though.
Both the X3 and X4 share many similarities in the interior. The overall design, layout, and upholstery is the same. One main difference is the larger screen and fully customizable instrument cluster on the X4. There's also a panoramic moonroof on the BMW X4.
These are available upgrades on the X3, but they aren't standard features as they are on the X4. If you really value these options then you should consider the cost of adding them to the X3. You'll notice the price gets a lot closer when you add these upgrades.
BMW X3 vs X4 Size
In honor of keeping things moving we'll be quick here. Let's ignore exterior dimensions since these cars share the same base platform. It's so close that - sticking with the overall theme - exterior dimensions likely aren't a deciding factor.
One aspect that might be deciding is the interior. Consider the sloping roof of the X4 for its coupe-inspired styling and design. Indeed, that does cut down on interior space of the X4. The cargo space behind the rear seats is a decent bit smaller (to the tune of 10 cubic feet or about 50%). Rear seats also sit ever so slightly further up leading to about 1" less legroom for passengers.
Ultimately, the X3 is the more adventure and family friendly SUV. Space isn't a huge difference unless you're looking to stack things height-wise. You're still sacrificing some by opting for the less spacious X4, but depending on your needs that might not matter at all.
Is the X4 Worth The Money?
Of course, we can't answer this question for everyone. It all depends on what you value in a car or SUV. Choosing between an X3 vs X4 may be a very close decision. In our opinion, the X3 delivers the better value thanks to its similar features, same engine options, and more space.
However, if you really value some of the standard features of the X4 then you may consider adding them to the X3 as well. That closes the price gap of the BMW X3 vs X4. At this point the X4 may be the more appealing choice if you appreciate the sportier design.