BMW X4 xDrive 30i

BMW X4 xDrive 30i

Test Drive Notes Library
  • Pros

  • It’s an X3. The X4 is every bit as nice as the X3 on which it's almost entirely based. That means it’s fun to drive, firmly luxurious, and high tech. You’ll notice the only thing we left out is “utilitarian.”

  • Fun. Like the X3, it's certainly one of the best driving SUVs out there. Handling is excellent, with virtually no body lean. At 4000+ pounds, the X4 is hefty enough to be very stable and solid-feeling at all speeds. It’s also quick. BMW’s 248 hp, 4-cylinder turbocharged engine has plenty of power, even for this two ton beast. The 8-speed automatic is one of the smoothest and fastest shifting we’ve driven. You never have to wait for it to make up its mind. There’s an available 6-cylinder, twin turbo, 365 hp option, but the 4-cylinder more than does the job.

  • Comfort. BMW has improved on the old X3/X4 platform, giving the new one a more supple, less slappy ride. Despite it’s sporty handling, the X4 soaks up the bumps well. Inside, the cabin is notably quiet, the seats are very comfortable, and the materials are high end. There’s enough room for two to sit in back comfortably, as long as they don’t play for the Warriors. The roof slopes back there and cuts into the headroom.

  • Standard AWD. The “SUV” body style has become so common, that you shouldn’t assume they all have standard all wheel drive. The X4 does.

  • Good ergonomics. BMW’s iDrive is at least as easy to use as any other system on the market. They’ve been improving it gradually for years now. The large size and high placement of the screen at the top of the center console helps you keep your eyes on the road (or take them less far away from the road when you need to use the screen). The horizontal orientation of the touch screen also helps, letting you see more options on the screen without scrolling. But spend the money and get the superb heads up display, so taking your eyes off the road is an even rarer event. It’s clear, adjustable, and projects all of the information you need through the windshield so it appears to be floating at the far end of the hood. It even projects phone and entertainment info momentarily when you use the steering wheel mounted switches.

  • Available safety. Forward collision warning and city speed automatic emergency braking are standard. High speed emergency braking should be standard, too, as should blind spot monitoring. Both are optional, but at least available. Everybody should get them.

  • Good fuel economy. We got a surprising 24 mpg overall in the X4. It’s no Prius, but on the other hand, it’s no Prius.

  • Cons

  • Use of space. Due to the fastback design (which is the real appeal of the X4 over the X3), there’s less usable space in the X4. There’s less headroom in the back for really tall folks, and there’s less cargo room behind the rear seats (although there is a useful under floor bin back there). While there definitely IS room for “stuff," especially if you fold down the rear seats, the capacity doesn’t match the more squared off rear end of the X3. There’s also a high load lip at the back of the cargo area that we found annoying. If utility is important, the X3 is your car.

  • Rear visibility. We’ve gotten pretty used to poor rearward visibility these days. It seems that most car makers have just assumed that no one’s going to look out the back window anymore. We’ll all just use our back up cameras. But because of the slope of the rear window in the X4, rear visibility is almost non-existent. And while the back up camera helps when you’re backing up, it doesn’t help when you’re going forward, and just want to see what’s going on behind you. Blind spot monitors help, too, when changing lanes, but we always find it reassuring to see that a tandem Fed-Ex truck isn’t coming up on our right. We’d love to see more manufacturers use GM’s excellent video rear view mirror. It skips the rear window (and the D-pillars) entirely and uses a camera to show you, bright and clear, what’s behind the vehicle.

  • Premium required. If you’re spending $55K on a car, perhaps the extra 25 or 30 cents a gallon to fill up with premium fuel isn’t going to bother you. But with gas prices historically volatile, there might come a day when you curse under your breath when you’re paying $80 a tank.

  • Option creep. If you’ve shopped for a luxury car recently, you know the drill. You look at the price and say, “Hey, maybe I can afford one of those.” Then, by the time you get the safety features you need, and the options you want, the price is $10-15K higher. The X4 avoids that to some extent, by making the starting price about $10,000 more than the base X3 on which its based. With that higher price comes some of the things that would be options on the X3, like city speed automatic emergency braking. So some of the options are built in. Still, our test X4 listed for $50,450, and rang out at $57,895.

Test Drive Notes Library

Get the Car Talk Newsletter