BMW X3 (with extra tires) luggage test

“Hey Jack, do you have a photo of the BMW X3 cargo area that is not plugged in?” I asked Jack Palmer, the road test editor.

“What do you mean, that picture is of the X3 M competition,” he replied.

Hmmm. You see, the reason I was asking the reason that I posted our BMW X3 review a while ago, I noticed that the X3 in question had an elevated cargo floor. It wasn’t on the last X3 I drove, and in general, things like this are like the Subaru Crossstrake Hybrid with battery stuff under the cargo floor. Therefore, my guess is that Jack provided a picture of the now-closed X3 plug-in hybrid.

Look and see, when I got an X3 M contest myself, it was also what I would call the “cargo floor stage”.

Ah, so what’s the deal? Answer: An extra tire!

You see, BMW is (finally) moving away from run-flat tires. My idea? Customer demand. BMW received numerous complaints about compromised rides and huge replacement costs. Or there are other reasons, but they don’t really matter in this context.

You see, BMW has started offering some of its cars with spare tires again in recent years. Most of these included front-drive-based cars: the X1, X2 and 2 Series Gran Coupe. Their packaging has made it possible for the underfloor cavities built into run-flat-wearing BMWs worth about 15 years.

It looks like a sack that encloses with a drawstring.

I guess this option has proved popular because BMW now offers the X3 with an additional tire option. Unfortunately, the X3 was not engineered / packaged with that hole in mind. The result is a cargo area with a stage.

And remember, it’s not even a full-size extra. No. Compact extra “tires.”

OK, so what does that mean for the cargo capacity of the BMW X3? Okay, it’s officially listed as 28.7 cubic feet, but you can throw it out the window altogether.

Unfortunately, the last time I had an over-the-counter X3 I didn’t check the luggage, so I definitely wouldn’t know the difference. But this results with the extra tire stage.

Like each luggage test, I use two medium-sized roller suitcases to check in at the airport (26 inches long, 16 wide, 11 deep), two roll-board suitcases that only fit overhead (24L x 15W) x 10D). And a small roll-board that fits easily (23L x 15W x 10D). I also include my wife’s overnight fancy bag to enhance things a bit (21L x 12W x 12D).

That would be one of the big bags. As you can see, it doesn’t fit the cargo cover in place. This is typical for a compact SUV.

Yes, I could have removed the cargo cover, but for the worst case scenario at the airport I always do this test with the cover first: you are picking up people from the airport, and either they have more than you expected, or you forgot to remove the cargo cover. Either way, the thing has to go somewhere. And there’s definitely nowhere to go on the X3 unless there’s enough space for an extra tire.

Medium-sized carry-ons may fit next to them, but in the end it’s best for me. A big bag is lost.

This is technically the same number of bags that Mercedes GLC can handle, but it can swallow both large bags (vs. one of the smaller black bags there) and there was more space left. And theoretically, GLC is supposed to have a small cargo area.

Okay, let’s get the cargo cover out.

So all the bags fit, but that’s all he wrote. The large blue bag is also steep, partially blocking the rear view, and the fancy bag is awkwardly next to it. You can clearly see how much space is left without the extra tires: lower all the bags by about 3 inches. There may be enough space upstairs to secure extra bags without having to fly into the cabin after braking.

There are different competitors to compare here. Clockwise from top left: Mercedes GLC, Genesis GV70, Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, Audi Q5 PHEV.

In short, all luggage was able to swallow the test bags except the Q5 (I didn’t take a picture with the fancy bag on the Stelvio, but it fits). The difference is that when everything inside the X3 is packed, there is no space left, while Benz, Genesis and Alpha do. And no, not all the front of the bag in the Audi is as usable as it seems.

Now, here’s another competitor that blows them all out of the water: the Acura RDX.

It’s not just a bag, but a complete Coleman cooler. How? It has underfloor storage. It also has an extra tire.

In the end, the X3 Cargo Floor Stage isn’t as big of a competition as I expected, but if you want extra tires, you have to make a sacrifice. It is also important to note that the GLC can fit a compact spare in its small under-floor storage area and you can get one for the GV70 as well. The Q5 may have one, but not with the plug-in hybrid. After all, it has batteries.

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