When descending a steep, off-road slope, the X3 xDrive’s standard Hill Descent Control allows you to creep down safely. The XC60 doesn’t offer Hill Descent Control.
The X3 has standard BMW Assist, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The XC60 doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.
Both the X3 and the XC60 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding and available all wheel drive.
The X3’s corrosion warranty is 2 years and unlimited miles longer than the XC60’s (12/unlimited vs. 10/100,000).
BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the X3 for 1 year and 14,000 miles longer than Volvo pays for maintenance for the XC60 (4/50,000 vs. 3/36,000).
To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the X3 has a standard 210-amp alternator. The XC60’s 180-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.
J.D. Power and Associates rated the X3 second among compact premium suvs in their 2013 Initial Quality Study. The XC60 isn’t in the top three in its category.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2014 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Volvo vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 7 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volvo is ranked 13th.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2014 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Volvo vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 11th in reliability. With 22 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volvo is ranked 21st.
The X3’s 2.0 turbo diesel produces 44 lbs.-ft. more torque (280 vs. 236) than the XC60 3.2’s standard 3.2 DOHC 6 cyl. The X3’s 2.0 turbo diesel produces 22 lbs.-ft. more torque (280 vs. 258) than the XC60 T5 Drive-E’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.
On the EPA test cycle the X3 xDrive28d gets better fuel mileage than the XC60 3.2 (27 city/34 hwy vs. 17 city/24 hwy).
On the EPA test cycle the X3 xDrive35i xDrive 6 cyl. gets better fuel mileage than the XC60 T6 AWD 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. (300 HP) (19 city/26 hwy vs. 17 city/24 hwy).
Regardless of its engine, the X3’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Volvo only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the XC60 Drive-E.
The X3’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the XC60 are solid, not vented.
For better traction, the X3 has larger standard tires than the XC60 (245/50R18 vs. 235/60R18).
The X3’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the XC60’s 60 series tires. The X3’s optional 245/40R20 front and 275/35R20 rear tires have a lower 40 series front and 35 series rear profile than the XC60’s optional 45 series tires.
Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the X3 can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The XC60 doesn’t offer run-flat tires.
The X3 has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The XC60’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.
The X3 offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The XC60’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.
The X3 has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The XC60 doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the X3’s wheelbase is 1.4 inches longer than on the XC60 (110.6 inches vs. 109.2 inches).
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the X3 is 1.9 inches wider in the rear than on the XC60.
The X3’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (50.1% to 49.9%) than the XC60’s (58.9% to 41.1%). This gives the X3 more stable handling and braking.
The X3 has 2.7 inches more front headroom, 1.7 inches more front shoulder room, 1 inch more rear headroom, .4 inches more rear legroom and 2.2 inches more rear shoulder room than the XC60.
A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the X3 easier. The X3’s cargo hatch lift-over height is 27.8 inches, while the XC60’s liftover is 29.4 inches.
To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the X3’s available liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The XC60 doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.
The X3 offers an optional heads-up display which projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts onto the windshield, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The XC60 doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
The X3’s front and rear power windows all lower with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The XC60’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open them fully.
To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the X3 has standard extendable sun visors. The XC60 doesn’t offer extendable visors.
The X3’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The XC60 doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
J.D. Power and Associates rated the X3 second among compact premium suvs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The XC60 isn’t in the top three in its category.
The BMW X3 outsold the Volvo XC60 by over two to one during the 2014 model year.