- Beautiful lines
- Great performance
- Good options
- Better warranty
- Available 6-speed manual
- Charges more for CarPlay…
- …and everything costs extra
- Small rear seat
- Looks dated compared to competitors
features & specs
The 2020 BMW 4-Series gets the vintage formula correct with good power in a compact shape.
The 2020 BMW 4-Series has us all tied up, and that’s before we’ve taken any turns.
What’s likely to be its last year in the current iteration, the two-door coupe and convertible, and five-door hatchback (which BMW calls a Gran Coupe) earn a 6.0 on our overall scale. That rating is based on the 430i coupe, which is the most affordable and most popular. If rated alone, the Gran Coupe and/or 440i would rate higher due to better interior space or more power. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The 4-Series is available in 430i or 440i configurations, with turbo-4 or turbo-6 power respectively. All-wheel drive is optional on all models.
With the 4-Series, BMW offers a wide range of configurations on a largely overlooked car—including the M4, which we cover separately. The coupe and convertible are sexy and contemporary, the Gran Coupe is even sexier and on-trend—if buyers didn’t prefer crossovers.
The base 2.0-liter turbo-4 makes 248 horsepower and sings in 430i models. In coupes, it can be paired with an 8-speed automatic or 6-speed manual, the latter of which is dying faster than network news.
The optional 320-hp turbo-6 in 440i models is a performer, but a costly upgrade. The 440i coupe can be equipped with a manual, too. (Hurry if you’re looking for a rear-drive new BMW with three pedals, its days are numbered.)
The Gran Coupe is the most comfortable of the bunch, but even it's not fit for more than four adults on a long trip. The coupe and convertible are best for two—up to four in a pinch.
Every 4-Series gets automatic emergency braking as standard equipment, and many safety features are available but cost extra.
Base cars cost about $45,000 and want for little. They get 18-inch wheels, synthetic leather upholstery, an 8.8-inch touchscreen, automatic emergency braking, and a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty. Apple CarPlay is free for a year, $80 per year after that. Too expensive? Hold on to that thought.
A fully loaded 4-Series can crest more than $73,000, which is serious money even by BMW’s standards. A la carte items can keep the price sane, and a few small packages can save us from the heavy stuff. But the turbo-6 adds at least $6,400 to the bottom line, opting for the convertible adds about $8,000 itself, and all-wheel drive is another $2,000. A BMW 440i xDrive convertible is a mouthful, but also BMW-speak for “more than $60,000.”
2020 BMW 4-Series
Handsome and understated, the 2020 4-Series has the right proportions and looks—for now.
The 2020 4-Series still looks great, but it’s aged. BMW’s purported successor to the 4-Series adds a far bigger snout and, well, we’re mixed.
We’ll take what we’re given and stamp it with a 6 for style. If rated alone, the Gran Coupe would do better, but more buyers will pick the coupe.
Regardless of number of doors—or roofs—the coupe, convertible, and five-door hatchback all share the same long hood and muscular proportions. The swept-back windshield looks fast—and the 4-Series is fast—but it’s losing ground to its Mercedes rival.
The nose and tail were redone slightly two years ago, but those differences will be hard to spot. A newer 4-Series is on the way soon, complete with chrome buckteeth, that we just can’t even deal with right now.
Inside, the BMW is more reserved with a conservative interior that’s just old now. It manages to stay relevant among competitors such as the Audi A5, but BMW’s plain interior is falling further behind to newer competitors.
2020 BMW 4-Series
Every powertrain available in the 4-Series is a good one.
Three body styles, two engines, up to four driven wheels, not one bad pick.
The 2020 4-Series gets all of Bavaria’s best gas-powered engines and files them in one place for us to find.
Our rating here applies to the base 430i coupe, which is more popular among buyers, but we agree that the 4-Series gets much better with more power or less roof. Consider one or both. It’s a 7 with points above average for its potency and poise.
The 430i uses a 248-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 that’s good for sprints up to 60 mph in less than six seconds. Paired to rear- or all-wheel drive, with an 8-speed automatic or 6-speed manual, the base engine is engaging and bright—especially with the smooth shifting 8-speed.
The upgraded 440i subs in a stout turbo-6 that makes 320 hp and 330 pound-feet, but also adds more than $6,000 to the bottom line. It pulls sweetly, and flexes past 100 mph without a hiccup—our licenses are sore from their workouts. The turbo-6 launches up to 60 mph in less than five seconds, which was the provenance of M-branded cars from not-too-long ago. The 440i coupe can still be found with a 6-speed manual, but its days are numbered. (Gran Coupes and convertibles are all automatic, all the time.)
All coupes, convertibles, and Gran Coupes can be fitted with BMW’s all-wheel-drive system, which it calls xDrive. The system defaults to a 40/60-split, front to rear, but can move power around to slipping wheels within milliseconds. It’s one of our favorite all-wheel-drive systems, notably because its rearward bias gives us all the good sports car feels.
The three suspension tunes available in the 4-Series vary, but all steer toward more confident handling. The base suspension will be hard to find, but it’s very good thanks to BMW’s institutional knowledge using double wishbones and tuning them well. The M Sport suspension is available, and dials in a firmer ride, but most of our time behind the wheel has been on cars equipped with adaptive dampers that toggle between normal and sport settings. There’s plenty of daylight between the two drive modes, and each works well for its intended mission.
The 4-Series steers confidently and firmly, a track package upgrade adds a variable ratio that’s nice, but also very quick in the corners. Buyer beware.
2020 BMW 4-Series
Comfort & Quality
Best for two, the 2020 BMW 4-Series forces us to rethink how many people to invite for our next weekend getaway.
Since the branches on the 4-Series family tree stretch far and wide, the BMW’s comfort is harder to generalize than Arbor Day gift packages. For instance, head room in the coupe is cramped but head room in the convertible is theoretically limited to the lower troposphere.
This year, like last year, the 4-Series is as a two-door coupe or convertible, or a five-door hatchback based on the coupe.
Our comfort score of 5 here applies to the coupe, which is more popular with buyers. We give it a point above average for its cargo space but take it back for a back seat that’s too cramped for even medium-size adults. The Gran Coupe helps alleviate some of those bad-knee blues, but why not just get a 3-Series instead.
Despite the wide variety of body styles, all 4-Series start with the same front seats that are shod in synthetic leather upholstery. The front seats are the best seats, although taller drivers may crane forward to see outward.
The front seats are comfortable and most 4-Series will leave the factory with heaters fitted into the seats as part of popular options packages. The optional sport seats are a worthwhile upgrade—especially in the 440i—thanks to better bolstering.
The rear seats in the coupe and convertible are a challenge to get into and out of—even staying in place is a chore. On paper, BMW says the available leg room is 33.7 inches but it’s really less than that. Only small adults and children will fit in the back for long stretches. The Gran Coupe improves on that space, but the dramatic roofline cuts deeply into available head space in the rear.
Gran Coupes have the most cargo space with 17 cubic feet of room under the rear glass. Coupes offer 15.7 cubic feet of trunk space, and convertibles boast 13.1 cubes with the top up, 7.8 with the top stowed in the rear.
Most of the surfaces of the 4-Series are high-quality and durable, although cheap plastics on the center console feel a little dull for the price.
2020 BMW 4-Series
The 2020 4-Series lacks official crash-test data.
The BMW 4-Series hasn’t been crash-tested by any of the major rating agencies in the U.S. and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.
Short of official crash-test data, we can’t assign a score here.
Beyond those official scores, all versions of the 4-Series get automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and a system that can automatically notify first responders if the car is involved in a serious crash. Safety extras including adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and blind-spot monitors are bundled into disparate options packages that can add thousands to the total cost of the 4-Series. Mainstream automakers don’t typically do that, most make all or many of those features part of a standard feature included in the price of the car. We wished BMW would do the same.
Outward vision in the 4-Series can be a challenge, especially for tall drivers or long torsos. Our 6-foot-3 editor had to crane his neck down to see lights at an intersection, for instance.
2020 BMW 4-Series
The 2020 BMW 4-Series has it all: good standard kit, good options, good warranty.
The 2020 4-Series comes well-equipped and in just about any body style with multiple powertrain configurations.
Base 430i coupes get synthetic leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, 18-inch wheels, automatic emergency braking, automatic climate controls, an 8.8-inch touchscreen with navigation and Apple CarPlay compatibility free for one year. (BMW charges a subscription fee for subsequent years.)
Starting from an average score of 5, the 4-Series gets points above average for its base features, exceptional options, a generously sized touchscreen and a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty that’s better than most of its direct rivals. It loses a point for that CarPlay subscription fee, which no other automaker charges for. The 4-Series is an 8 for features.
This year, the base coupe and Gran Coupe cost about the same and start at about $45,000, including destination. Convertibles are pricier and add about $8,000 to the bottom line. All-wheel drive, which BMW calls xDrive, adds another $2,000 more.
BMW lumps many features into package groups: M Sport, Luxury, and Executive. Few conveniences are available as a la carte items, which helps keep the cost low. A fully loaded 4-Series can cost more than $70,000, where we’d rather spend that kind of money on a sports car.
We’d add a convenience package that includes heated front seats, lumbar support, and blind-spot monitors for $1,100 on the 430i. Premium audio by Harman Kardon would be a $875 luxury we’d likely spring for, too.
If the power of a 440i is more compelling, we’d consider opting for the M Sport package upgrade for $3,700 to unlock the car’s performance. Included in that package are heated front seats, blind-spot monitors, an adaptive suspension, a thicker steering wheel, and a choice among 18- or 19-inch wheels with summer performance tires available on most wheel combinations. A track handling upgrade for $1,700 includes better brakes and a variable steering ratio for occasional track days.
BMW's standard warranty covers three years of maintenance and includes a 4-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty that's better than most of its rivals.
2020 BMW 4-Series
Most 2020 4-Series manage combined mileage in the mid-20s.
Despite the wide range of available powertrains and configurations, most of the 2020 4-Series models manage combined mileage in the high 20s.
The base 430i coupe is more popular with buyers and the EPA rates it at 23 mpg city, 34 highway, 27 combined. That’s a 5 on our scale.
Opting for the higher power turbo-6 in 440i coupes and convertibles dents mileage considerably. The EPA rates the 440i convertible at 19/27/22 mpg.
All-wheel drive zaps about 2 mpg across the board from coupe and convertible models.
The 4-Series Gran Coupe, which is the four-door body style, is rated similarly to the coupe.