7. BMW X3 xDrive28d: Oil’s Well
Base price: $43,050
EPA fuel-economy rating: 27/34/30 mpg city/highway/combined
Diesel ain’t dead, despite the emissions-cheating scandal engulfing Volkswagen and its Audi and Porsche brands, by far the principal purveyors of the fuel in the U.S. It remains a viable propellant, and the diesel version of BMW’s fine compact crossover is ample evidence. From its turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder comes a stout 280 pound-feet of torque. That’s more significant than its 181 horsepower: torque is the muscle behind acceleration and, especially, throttle response. Slight lag off the line keeps its 0-60-mph run to a middling 7.8 seconds, but once underway, the xDrive28d answers your right foot as alertly as the 6-cylinder xDrive35i with its 300 horsepower, 300 pound-feet of torque – and $4,250-higher base price.
Fuel-economy ratings are no contest, the 28d trouncing the xDrive35i’s 19/26/21 mpg city/highway/combined and even the 240-horsepower gas 4-cylider xDrive28i’s 21/28/24. And it exhibits the impressive balance of ride control and taut handling that marks every X3. The automaker’s xDrive all-wheel drive is standard and aids traction on surfaces dry and slippery. Its default 60-percent-rear torque bias contributes to the sporty driving feel. All X3’s also come with BMW
’s driver-selectable Eco Pro mode. It maximizes fuel efficiency by disengaging the powertrain between 30 mph and 100 mph when your foot is off the accelerator. Going full-premium-crossover requires lots of options – leather upholstery is a $1,450 extra, for example. But diesel drivers know the fuel isn’t difficult to find and that range – some 550 miles between fill ups in an xDrive28d – is a secret pleasure.