In a time when compact SUVs are exploding in popularity, especially in the luxury world, BMW is making one crossover that’s a little different from the norm. While the BMW X3 is a rather conventional approach to the luxury crossover, the 2018 BMW X4 offers something different. It’s technically in the same class as the more conservative X3, but it’s a "4-door coupe" that aims to have the sporty appearance of a coupe combined with the functionality of an SUV.
The BMW X4 was a bit of an oddity in luxury crossovers when it came out a few years ago with its unconventional coupe-like design. It’s what BMW calls a "Sports Activity Coupe" with a design that puts form over function and has a bit of a love-it-or-hate-it look, including with our own staff. Aesthetics aside, we found out whether this SUV has traditionally engaging driving dynamics for a BMW and whether it’s actually functional as an SUV.
Our staff found the interior to be nice and reasonably luxurious, but not great. Our editors Dwight and Tommy both noted that the seats were uncomfortable, which shouldn’t be a complaint in any luxury vehicle, especially at this price point of more than $50,000. Dwight pointed out a few little things he didn’t like in the interior, like the fact that the air vents have two different looks and the start button seemed like a tacked-on afterthought. These are minor gripes, but they add up to make for an interior that doesn’t really have a cohesive design.
Despite some discomfort woes, the X4 does come standard with some nice features, including a backup camera, rain-sensing windshield wipers and Bluetooth phone connectivity. It can be optioned with more luxury features like a heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control and a clever parking assistance system.
The BMW X4 is available with two different twin-turbo engines: a 2.0-liter inline-four and a 3.0-liter inline-six. The 4-cylinder offers strong performance on paper, delivering 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque while the bigger 6-cylinder in the M40i guise makes 355 hp and 343 lb-ft of torque.
It’s exciting that both engines available in the X4 have twin turbochargers, but we found the engine in our tester to suffer from turbo lag. Turbo lag is what happens when you press down on the accelerator of a turbocharged vehicle and have to wait for the turbocharger to spool up before it eventually gives you a boost. This was a common quirk of early turbocharged cars, but it’s something that’s pretty much been engineered away by now.
That’s not the case with the twin-scroll turbocharged engine in our X4. Our editors Dwight and Ben both agreed that the turbo lag was noticeable. Dwight noted that it’s a nice-driving car on the highway and in the city, but it didn’t have the engaging driving dynamics that BMW has spent decades building a reputation for.
The X4 has a starting price of $50,450, which is about $10,000 higher than the similar X3. If you want the 6-cylinder engine, it adds an extra $10,000 to the MSRP. The X3 has a boxier, more conventional SUV shape, which makes it more practical with more interior space, all while being quite a bit more affordable. For these reasons, the X4 doesn’t offer much of a value proposition unless you really want that "4-door coupe" look. Also, Tommy pointed out that you get nickled and dimed for every little feature you want to add to this BMW, which can easily drive the price tag way up. One nice feature that does add value to the X4 is standard all-wheel drive.
As for reliability, U.S. News has ranked the X4 to have "better than most" reliability. That reliability combined with BMW’s 4-year/50,000-mile warranty should provide some peace of mind to discerning shoppers.
The X4 isn’t a bad luxury crossover, especially if you want to stand out, but it also has a few flaws that might have you taking a closer look at its competitors. Overall, there’s nothing wrong with how the X4 drives aside from the engine’s turbo lag, but enthusiasts expecting BMW driving dynamics might be disappointed by this crossover.
The X4 is for anyone looking for something a little more interesting than your average luxury crossover. It aims to be three different cars in one: A coupe, a hatchback and an SUV. If you want all three in one luxurious package, the X4 might be the crossover for you.