- Strong performance and good fuel economy from its two available engines
- High-quality cabin looks and feels expensive
- Comfortable ride quality despite its sporty nature
- Responsive handling bettered only by pricier sport-tuned rivals
- High-performance M40i trim level is a rarity for the segment
- Low rear seat reduces comfort relative to the X3 and most competitors
- Small cargo area for a vehicle in this class
- Rearward visibility is compromised by sloping roofline
- Costs more than a similarly equipped X3 which offers more room inside
- Some controls can be difficult to learn
- Adaptive cruise control doesn't perform as well as those of rivals
There are reasons people buy SUVs besides cargo capacity, extra ground clearance and access to all-wheel drive. Maybe you like sitting up high. Maybe you think they're cooler than a car. Maybe you've just driven them for years and it's what you prefer. Whatever the reason, the 2017 BMW X4 is one of the choices for those who aren't necessarily looking for a traditional SUV.
The X4 shares most of its componentry with the BMW X3. The cabin design and controls, its base engine, available features and the majority of mechanical bits and pieces are the same. Its most obvious area of difference is the X4's roofline, which slants down in such a way that BMW calls the X4 a coupe. This reduces comfort in the back, as the seat bottom is lower to open up more headroom. Cargo capacity is also compromised by the lower roof, so best to think of it as a trunk, really.
There is another key difference between the X4 and the X3. It's called the M40i. Unique to the X4, this high-performance model builds on the outgoing xDrive35i model. With a whopping 360 horsepower and numerous handling enhancements, it ups the ante in this segment just as compelling new performance entries like the Jaguar F-Pace, Mercedes-Benz GLC43 AMG Coupe and Porsche Macan GTS arrive on the scene for 2017.
In the end, though, it's hard for us to divorce the U from SUV, even if BMW's marketers refer to the X4 as an SAC, or Sport Activity Coupe. Whatever, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, who cares if its tail is a little different? As such, we think those well-rounded new competitors are ultimately less compromised. So too are more conventional compact luxury SUVs like BMW's own X3. So although not everyone buys an SUV for the same reasons, the X4's appeal may still be a bit limited.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2017
Mid way through last year the xDrive35i model was replaced by the more performance-oriented M40i model. For all 2017 models, wireless phone charging and a Wi-Fi hotspot are added to the options list, while the upgraded iDrive interface included with navigation has been updated. Finally, the steering wheel included in the optional M Sport package has a new design.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2017 BMW X4 is a four-door, five-passenger compact luxury SUV with a coupelike roofline. There are two trim levels, which correspond with engine choice: xDrive28i and M40i. Both come standard with all-wheel drive and a sport-tuned eight-speed automatic transmission that are optional on the otherwise mechanically related X3.
The X4 xDrive28i comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic adaptive xenon headlights, LED running lights and foglights, adaptive LED taillights, automatic wipers, a sunroof, auto-dimming and power-folding mirrors, a power liftgate, rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats with driver memory settings, "SensaTec" premium vinyl upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, paddle shifters, a 40/20/40-split folding rear seat, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, BMW Assist emergency telematics, the iDrive electronics interface and a nine-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.
The X4 xDrive28i is available with several feature packages. The Premium package includes hands-free liftgate access via a foot sensor, "Comfort Access" keyless entry and ignition, leather upholstery, front seat power lumbar adjustments and satellite radio. The M Sport package adds 19-inch sport wheels (20-inchers are optional), a body kit, front sport seats, a sport steering wheel, an increased top speed and numerous interior trim enhancements. The Driver Assistance package adds front parking sensors and a rearview camera.
Besides its more powerful engine and various other performance enhancements, the M40i includes front parking sensors and the M Sport and Premium package content. The rearview camera is available as a stand-alone option.
There are several packages available on all X4's. The Driver Assistance Plus package adds a variety of accident avoidance technologies (see Safety section) and opens the door to the optional adaptive cruise control. The Cold Weather package consists of retractable headlight washers, a heated steering wheel and heated front and rear seats. The Lighting package features full LED headlights with automatic high beams.
The Technology package features a larger central iDrive screen, an upgraded iDrive controller, a navigation system, an enhanced driver information display in the gauge cluster, a head-up display, smartphone-app integration and BMW Remote Services (featuring remote vehicle access via smartphone and remote locking/unlocking via BMW's call center).
Stand-alone options include some of the above items (navigation, adaptive cruise, heated front seats) plus a driver-adjustable suspension, an automated parking system and wireless smartphone charging bundled with on-board Wi-Fi.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
The X4's front compartment feels somewhat more intimate than that of the X3, highlighted by a wide center console that creates a sporty, dual-cockpit feel. Top-quality materials are evident throughout and the various tech controls and features are typical for the segment (which means they'll probably be user- friendly enough after a lengthy get-to-know-you process).
The standard front seats provide adequate comfort, but definitely check out the M Sport front seats as their bolsters are much more substantial all around. The back seat may be an issue, though. It's well-shaped for two, but the bottom cushion has been mounted quite low to accommodate the downward sloping roofline. This reduces comfort considerably and headroom for taller passengers can still be tight. The back seats of more conventionally roofed rivals, including the X3, are much better. Even the similarly shaped Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Coupe has a more spacious and comfortable back seat.
Things don't improve further back. With 17.7 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seat and 49.4 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded down, this crossover has less cargo room than the humble Volkswagen Golf hatchback. Now, there's no doubt that many will be fine with diminished practicality if they value the M4's distinctive styling, but just know that virtually every compact luxury SUV is more capable of carrying a big TV box or whatever other bulky items that would normally fit in an SUV. For comparison sake, the X3 maximum measurements are 27.6 cubes and 63.3 cubes, respectively.
Every 2017 X4 includes standard antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, rear parking sensors, active head restraints, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Also standard is BMW Assist eCall, which includes automatic collision notification and an emergency assistance button.
The Driver Assistance package adds front parking sensors and a rearview camera. The Driver Assistance Plus package adds those items plus active blind-spot monitoring, a surround-view camera system, lane departure warning, forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking and (available at extra cost) adaptive cruise control.
Optional safety equipment includes front parking sensors, a rearview camera, a surround-view camera system, active blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning and a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking.
During Edmunds testing, an X4 xDrive 28i came to a stop from 60 mph in 122 feet, an average performance among similarly sized luxury crossovers.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2017 BMW X4 xDrive28i has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive, an eight-speed automatic transmission and an automatic stop/start system are standard. At the Edmunds test track, an X4 xDrive28i sprinted to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, which makes it the quickest in the segment for a base engine (at the time of this writing). We expect EPA-estimated fuel economy to stand at 23 mpg combined (20 mpg city/28 mpg highway) for 2017.
The M40i has a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 good for 360 hp and 343 lb-ft of torque. It, too, has all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic. BMW says that it will hit 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, which would best (by quite a lot) all in the segment except the Porsche Macan Turbo. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 21 mpg combined (19 mpg city/26 mpg highway), which is pretty remarkable given its performance.
There are no complaints when it comes to performance. The "base" turbo four-cylinder packs a real wallop when you put your foot in it, pressing you back in your seat and making a mockery of its claimed 240-hp output. Really, this is more than enough power for most shoppers. Only those desiring overkill should consider the M40i, which is a legitimate high-performance proposition with acceleration numbers that rival high-powered sport sedans.
Similar accollades can be heaped upon the M40i's prowess around corners, as its steering and road-holding abilities should stand up well to not only the Porsche Macan but also other competitors from Jaguar and Mercedes. The same can't quite be said of the xDrive28i, though, which we've found to be a bit squishy and ponderous for a vehicle bearing the BMW badge. It's more comfort-oriented, which may nevertheless be welcomed by some shoppers.
You might already know that sitting up high and having a commanding view of the road can be a great thing. So if you're looking for a luxury SUV that gives you that sense of security along with a sleek design and strong performance, the uniquely styled 2016 BMW X4 is an interesting alternative.