I Love The Performance Of My BMW But I Need Something Bigger! What Car Should I Buy?

This week's reader wants to replace his M-Sport X3 with something a tad bigger without giving up performance

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Image: BMW

Dan is a retired Air Force officer in the DC/Baltimore metro. He has an M-Sport X3 that he really loves but the car is over ten years old and a bit too small for family trips. He wants to replace it with something a bit bigger, but he doesn’t want to give up tech or performance. What car should he buy?

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Here is the scenario:

I currently drive a 2011 BMW X3 35i with M-sport package, fully loaded to include a HUD. I love the power and how it handles, but between the age and occasionally needing more cargo space behind the rear seat I am looking to replace it. Family of three, but barely fits luggage when going on a week trip and needs cargo rack on trailer hitch for week-long Beach trips with all the chairs/umbrella/etc. I drove a modified E36 M3 sedan ( twin screw supercharged) before having a kid. Looking for something a couple years old.

I would like something with a lot of tech but I don’t want anything sluggish when it comes to merging. Also it must be able to fit in a single garage without folding the mirrors. I do not want an EV.. My budget is up to $60,000.

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Quick Facts:

Budget: up to $60,000

Location: DC/Baltimore area

Daily Driver: Yes

Wants: Performance, Tech, a bit more space

Doesn’t want: An EV

Expert 1: Tom McParland - Give in to Your Need for Speed

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Image: Autotrader.com
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Well, Dan, it seems that what you enjoy most about your BMW is the nice boost from the turbo-6 along with the luxury features you would expect from a German brand. Moving up to something bigger, but not too big can be a tricky proposition especially if you want to maintain a level of performance.

Being that you are a retired service member, I’m fairly certain there is some regulation in the Pentagon that says that all service members, at some point in time, need to own an overpowered MOPAR V8. Therefore, the natural upgrade for the X3 is a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. The best replacement for German turbos is displacement by way of a 6.4-liter V8 that cranks out 475 horsepower.

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While not technically a luxury car, the Grand Cherokee, in upper trims, does a pretty good job of blurring those lines and as a mid-size SUV—you will get the extra rear seat and cargo space you need without having to worry about fitting it into the garage. The trick to finding a good SRT is avoiding some of the more suspect dealers in the region. This mean-looking matte grey at a Jaguar dealer seems promising if you are willing to travel or ship it.

Expert 2: Owen Bellwood - Do it With a Bit of Class

A photo of a silver Range Rover SUV from 2018.
Photo: Land Rover Alexandria
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Dan, you’ve had a good suggestion thrown your way already. But, I can tell you’re a man of class, so you deserve a set of wheels to match that. And while it’ll be nice hooning ‘round town in a V8 Grand Cherokee, there’s a more sophisticated choice out there.

What you need to replace your X3 is clearly a Range Rover. And not just any Range Rover, a supercharged V8 Range Rover. It’s obvious, when you think about it. This way, you’ll get your hands on a five-liter, supercharged motor that kicks out more than 500 hp. You’ll get to enjoy all that while being ensconced in luxury and, really, what more could you want from a car?

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To come in under $60K you’re going to be looking for something second hand and, thankfully, there are some nice options in your area. I’m taken by this lovely Loire Blue metallic example, but it’s pushing 100,000 miles. So instead, why not go for this 2018 Range Rover that comes with a black leather interior that packs in more tech than you can shake a stick at. Enjoy!

Expert 3: Lawrence Hodge - The Obvious Choice

2016 BMW X5 M
Image: BMW
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Dan, it looks like you’re a BMW fan. So why not keep it in the family? Before I saw that you needed more space I would’ve suggested an X3 M. But seeing that you do, why not move one step up?

What you need is an X5 M. You get a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 with 567 hp, all-wheel drive, and monster sounding exhaust. It hauls ass too, hitting 60 mph in less than four seconds. And for that extra room, it can haul stuff too. With the rear seat folded there’s 76.7 cubic feet of cargo space; even with the seats up you still have almost 40 cubic feet. If you’re willing to go a couple years older to get into one, I found one within your budget in Alexandria. A 2018 for $48,860 isn’t a bad deal.

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Expert 4: José Rodríguez Jr. - Six Cylinder Culture Shock

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Photo: Cars.com
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Dan, it sounds like a sporty — albeit, small — SUV has served you well, and while I’m inclined to get you to try another vehicle type, like a performance truck or wagon, it sounds like your frequent trips would benefit from a slightly bigger SUV with enclosed cargo space. But a “big” SUV doesn’t have to be sluggish, which is why I’m recommending this 2022 Acura MDX Type S.

The MDX Type S lacks the eight cylinders of the SUVs listed above, but when set to drive mode Sport Plus (+), the MDX will go from a three-row SUV to a rear-wheel biased sports car whose talents go beyond straight-line acceleration. The flagship MDX gives up the brute power of something with a V8 but makes up for it with excellent handling courtesy of torque vectoring all-wheel drive. All that on top of the turbocharged V6's respectable 355 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque.

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There’s plenty of tech inside without any of the clutter that older Acuras used to have; infotainment is clearly laid out, housed in a single screen rather than the old center stack with two displays. The only thing that might be overkill for your family of three is the number of passengers who fit in the MDX (with its whopping seven seats), but that’s easily fixed by folding the third row chairs to gain some generous cargo space. And as a fellow E36 owner (you a former owner) and old BMW fan who relies on a family member’s Acura, trust me, it’s always a culture shock to drive a vehicle with a fantastic six-cylinder engine and components that just work.