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Cars 2019: BMW X4 Road Test & Review

The 2019 BMW X4 is the sloping-roofed variant of the X3 premium compact crossover. After a redesigned X3 debuted for the 2018 model year, the X4 is following close behind with a similar set of upgrades. It’s built in Spartanburg, South Carolina, for every territory around the world.

BMW calls the X4 (and the larger X6, based on the mid-size X5) a “sport activity vehicle,” or SAV. It may sound like marketing fluff, but it’s not too far from the truth. Every BMW has an enthusiast leaning to some degree. This trait is evident in the regular X4 and amplified in the range-topping M40i version. It also comes with a specific style and undeniable cachet. Join us on this in-depth road test and review to see how good the new X4 is.

Pricing and Competitors

The 2019 BMW X4 xDrive30i starts at $51,445. The higher-performance 2019 M40i trim is priced from $61,445. This puts the X4 range in competition with the 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4Matic Coupe ($47,595) and its 362-hp GLC 43 AMG variant ($61,395). Audi doesn’t offer a slope-roofed version of its Q5 ($42,475) and SQ5 ($55,275), but they’re still extremely stylish, and the 354-hp SQ5 is an enjoyable drive.

In the case of the X4 and GLC, these “four-door crossover coupe” versions are more expensive than their squarer counterparts, although they also tend to be equipped a little more lavishly.

Equipment

German cars are often sparsely stocked, forcing buyers to choose more options — which gets pricey in a hurry — but the X4’s level of standard equipment is fairly generous.

Both X4 trims come standard with SensaTec simulated leather upholstery, which is much better in reality than the description might suggest. Other features include 19-inch alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, variable-ratio steering, a powered tailgate, front and rear parking sensors, a panoramic sunroof, navigation, and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration. This last item is a welcome inclusion since BMW often charges an extra $300 in its other vehicles. Android Auto, however, is not available.

The M40i comes with stronger brakes to complement its bigger engine, an adaptive suspension, sport exhaust, full LED exterior lighting, and some aerodynamic additions.

Options

Restraint is required to prevent the bottom line from expanding too much. Naturally, there’s the opportunity to go for leather upholstery with contrasting stitching and piping, plus 20-inch alloy wheels (or 21-inch alloys for the M40i), heated seats and steering wheel, gesture control for the infotainment system, ambient cabin lighting, a configurable digital driver information display, a 360-degree camera system, and much more.

It’s a smart idea to select one of the driver assistance packages, preferably the Plus version. This will bring active cruise control with stop/go functions, active lane keeping, traffic jam driving assistance, and blind-spot monitoring with front and rear cross-traffic alerts. It’s $1,700, but it could pay for itself in a split second.

Comfort and Cargo

The X4’s front seats aren’t immediately comfortable right from the first moment that tush meets cushion. Actually, they feel more like you sit on them rather them in them. It can take some adjusting to get them just right, and even then there might be some tweaking after a few miles. But you’ll find that they’re supportive in all the right places, and they offer adjustable side cushioning.

With an average adult male in the driver’s seat, a person of the same dimensions can sit behind and have no problems with legroom. And despite that sloping roof, rear headroom is adequate. Luggage space behind the rear seat is 18.5 cubic feet, increasing to 50.5 cubic feet when the rear seat is folded down. Pretty useful. However, the BMW X3 enjoys an even more impressive 28.7 cubic feet behind the rear seat and 62.7 cubic feet when it’s folded.

Engines and Fuel Economy

The X4 xDrive30i has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The M40i enjoys 355 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque from a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six (this is a classic BMW configuration). Both are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive (known as xDrive in BMW’s world) is standard.

At the time of writing this review, neither BMW nor the Environmental Protection Agency had any fuel consumption estimates for the X4 xDrive30i. However, the mechanically identical 2018 X3 xDrive30i achieves 22 mpg in the city, 29 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg combined. EPA estimates for the 2019 X4 M40i are 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway/23 mpg combined.

Safety

As well as all the federally mandated safety equipment, the X4 comes standard with a telematics bundle with an SOS button and automatic collision notification. The 2019 X4 hasn’t been crash-tested by any North American agencies yet and may never be, but the 2018 X3 stablemate has. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the X3 a Top Safety Pick Plus, while the previous-generation X3 was also given the top score of five stars overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Factor in the raised driving position and standard all-wheel drive, and there should be no concerns about the X4’s protection credentials.

Interior Design

The X4 seats five passengers (well, four and a bit), and it has a cabin full of quality materials laid out in a functional yet still aesthetically pleasing way. In typical BMW style, the center console is angled slightly toward the driver, as it should be.

There’s nothing gimmicky or particularly noteworthy about the X4’s interior, just an understated class. The standard panoramic sunroof, meanwhile, is a surefire cure for any feelings of claustrophobia in the rear quarters.

Exterior Design

The 2019 X4 is wider and longer than its predecessor. But looking at this vehicle without having a 2018 model parked alongside, it would be easy to conclude that there’s no significant difference between the two generations. Maybe that was the point. If anything, it looks like the nose is higher.

Those previously immune to whatever outward charms BMW crossovers held probably won’t be swayed by this new X4. On the other hand, it won’t disappoint the faithful who have bought into the whole “four-door crossover coupe” concept and don’t mind losing some practicality for a sleeker look.

Performance

Most buyers should be perfectly happy with the thrust from the four-cylinder xDrive30i version, which sprints from standstill to 60 mph in a respectable six seconds. During everyday use, its 248 hp is energetic enough for virtually every situation.

The M40i isn’t a full-on M version of the X4. Instead, it kind of capitalizes on the M brand while bolstering performance and bringing a little more pizazz. It can hit 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and has the option of a 155-mph top speed, which makes this vehicle more of an indulgence. But then the X4 is a fastback crossover with less practicality than the regular X3, so it starts out as something of an indulgence already.

Handling

The X4 drives better than a crossover ever really needs to. Then again, it is a BMW, with the dynamic abilities that usually accompany this illustrious badge. When the roads become curvy, the X4 is a jewel. Everything about it — steering, braking, body control — works so well. It allows the driver to get on the gas early when exiting a corner. Driving modes ranging from Eco to Sport Plus affect responses of the steering, throttle, and transmission. Sport is a great all-purpose setting, with the options of clicking up to Sport Plus or down to Comfort, depending on conditions.

The sportier suspension setup of the M40i is even more precise, yet it still doesn’t have to compromise on ride quality.

Final Thoughts

Although the 2019 BMW X4 M40i is wonderfully spry, the notion of a crossover that behaves like a sports car seems a bit off-kilter. Why not buy a sports car and enjoy the lower center of gravity? So our choice would probably be the X4 xDrive30i, since it’s appreciably less expensive and still has a fantastic engine.

The X4 doesn’t have a wide appeal, yet this apparent drawback can help its resale values — it will be rarer than the X3 and much prized among its fans. As long as the difference in cargo capacity isn’t an issue and the budget is available, there are no major reasons not to buy the 2019 BMW X4.