New & Used BMW X4: In Depth
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The BMW X4 is the latest coupe-like crossover SUV to join the German automaker's lineup. Derived from the similar X3 sport-utility vehicle, the X4 shares drivetrains and general dimensions, while its sleeker roofline gives it a more dramatic profile.
It's the same idea applied to BMW's larger SUVs—the X5 and the derivative X6.
The X4's rivals today include the Porsche Macan and Range Rover Evoque, and perhaps the Mercedes GLC.
MORE: Read our 2016 BMW X4 preview
The new X4 shares the mid-size X3's mechanicals, but wraps them in a sleeker shape, one with a sporty stance and a lower roofline—and less cargo room in back. It also has a slightly sportier tune than its conventionally shaped sibling.
Why choose the X4 out of all of BMW's hatchbacks, wagons, coupes, and SUVs? BMW argues it's for the design. It doesn't have much different a footprint from the X3—it's 1.3 inches wider, 1.5 inches lower, and exactly the same length—but the proportions are very different, as are many of the details.
The X4's low, arched roof earns it its claim to coupe-likeness, while strong, dynamic character lines along the side add further hints of athleticism not normally seen on crossovers. At the nose of the X4, you'll find a very familiar version of BMW styling, with SUV cues, including a set of wide, deep air inlets, an apparent skidplate (or skidplate-mimicking design), and, of course, the signature kidney grilles. The headlights of the X4—twin round units—are quite dramatic, and complemented by LED fog lamps. Toward the rear, the X4 has the "signature swage line" alongside—split in two here, for a more dynamic look—while in back the X4 is probably at its most conventional, with a treatment that looks quite car-like, only lifted upward.
BMW offers three powertrains in the X4, all with standard with xDrive all-wheel drive. The xDrive28i is powered by a turbocharged 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder, while the xDrive35i model uses a turbocharged 300-hp, 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder engine. All X4s get an excellent eight-speed automatic transmission that provides smooth and quick shifts just like it does in many other BMW models.
For its first model year, the X4 didn't offer an M-powered rival for vehicles like the Porsche Macan Turbo. That changes in the 2016 model year with the addition of the uprated and upgraded BMW X4 M40i. It presses the turbocharged six for another 55 hp, bringing the total to 355 hp, and bumps torque to 343 pound-feet. With a standard eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, the new model's good for a 0-60 mph run in 4.7 seconds, and a governed top speed of 150 mph. There's a unique calibration for the all-wheel-drive system and the automatic; a distinct sport suspension tune; more responsive steering; 20-inch wheels and tires; and a sport-tuned exhaust system with a resonator that pumps some engine noise into the cabin. The cockpit also gets a leather steering wheel, gear shift lever, sports seats, door sills and instrument cluster.
Since underpinnings are largely carried over from the X3, much of that model's driving experience extends here—meaning that the X3 rides tall like a crossover, but launches with every bit of the authority of a sport sedan, and without the squat and nosedive that are pretty typical in bigger vehicles. The variable sport steering system is standard here, as are steering-wheel paddle shifters. Suspension and steering are both tuned slightly more sporty than in a comparable X3. And while the X4 really doesn’t look that trail-focused, it at least has an advanced enough all-wheel-drive system to handle most situations, although tires and ground clearance are limiting factors.
The X4 offers comfortable seating for four adults, with the area between the two well-bolstered outboard positions acting as an occasional spot for a child or adult on a short trip. Cargo space in the X4 ranges from 17.7 cubic feet with the rear seats up to 49.4 in full-on cargo mode. All X4s include a power hatch mechanism, while choosing Comfort Access also brings the Smart Opener feature, which provides hands-free opening by waving a foot below the rear bumper.
Features and equipment follow the mold of BMW's existing X vehicles, including a wide array of exterior and interior color options and upholstery styles; advanced electronics and entertainment gear; and high-tech safety features. Like other modern BMWs, the X4's infotainment functions are manipulated through the brand's latest iDrive controller; it incorporates a touchpad, allowing users to trace out individual characters when choosing a destination in the navigation system or selecting names from a phonebook. Rear Park Distance Control is a standard feature as well, made somewhat necessary by the short rear window. An available M Aerodynamics Package will bring a collection of sporty BMW M finishing touches to the look, both on the outside and in the cabin.