For a few years it was trendy to bash the SUV. But the venerable sport utility vehicle persevered, kept accentuating the positive (like the old song said), and slowly but surely won over millions of people.
Still, there have been folks who love the idea of a cargo-carrying, four-wheel-drive servant, but they just can’t give up the sporty fun of their coupes and sedans. Oh, if only someone would take those two concepts and meld them into one.
Well, behold the X4. It may not be the perfect combination of the two, but it sure is close – and that pretty much was BMW’s goal from the beginning.
There are two things primarily contributing to the coupe feel, one under the hood and one above your head.
If you opt for the M40i trim level, you’ll understand what I mean as soon as you touch the accelerator. This car – oops, SUV – jumps off the starting line. In 0-60 tests it’s been clocked at an impressive 4.7 seconds. So who says you have to plod along in a sport utility vehicle?
(Granted, the other available trim level, the xDrive28i – and who names these things? – isn’t shabby; it’s just not nearly as sporty as its sibling.)
Then we get to reason number two for the coupe feel, and that has to do with the X4’s styling. Specifically, the roof line. Engineers designed it to slope downward, giving the vehicle a sleek, jackrabbit appearance. There’s no doubt the intention was to appeal to those seeking a performance look.
But there are trade-offs, and the first involves seating in the back. Because of the sloping roof, BMW lowered the rear seat just a touch. Sure, adults can fit back there, but headroom was marginally sacrificed. In fact, I actually banged my head the first time I slipped into the back seat. Keep that in mind if you’re thinking of Uber-ing a bunch of NBA players around town.
The other consequence of the roof is a narrower view out the back window. If you’re big on visibility – and I am – you’ll have to decide if style is more important.
There’s no denying the X4 looks great on the outside. Inside, well . . . it’s a BMW. Luxury and functionality meet in a comfortable and tech-savvy marriage. You won’t have many complaints about the style and feel of it all. As usual the materials are first-rate, and most creature comforts are taken care of.
With those tech controls, though, you might spend some time getting acquainted. That’s just the world we live in; luxury car makers feel the need to somewhat over-complicate the most basic controls. But no worries, you’ll pick it all up in no time.
Falling into the SUV/Crossover class, the X4 will be counted on to haul a few things from time to time. This is one of the few areas where it comes up short. Even with the rear seats folded flat, cargo space is cramped when compared to others in the segment.
For the record, however, I bought a table and two chairs at a furniture store during my test week. Neither the table’s box nor the chairs’ box would fit in the back. But, after removing them from their boxes they stowed just fine. It’s always going to depend on what you’re hauling.
And, frankly, nobody gets this vehicle with the ultimate dream of moving furniture. So, again, what’s most important to you?
Once on the road, the drive is simply superb. Speedy and superb. And that’s all we need to say about that.
I wasn’t sure if BMW needed to add to their X3 and X5 fleet, but I’m glad they did. If you’re hoping to combine crossover handiness with sports car-like handling and acceleration, the X4 is a solid – and fun – choice.
The 2017 BMW X4 M40i
3.0L TwinPower Turbo V6, 8-speed automatic transmission
As tested, with options: $67,495
Fuel economy: 19/26/21 combined
Reviewed by Dom Testa
Vehicle provided by manufacturer