By Allyson Harwood
In its ongoing quest to make a vehicle for every buyer no matter how small the niche, BMW has created the all-new 2015 X4, which is sportier than a typical 5-passenger SUV (and not quite as practical). This is a vehicle that is difficult to categorize, but because its underpinnings are based on those of the X3 SUV, it makes sense to think of this as an SUV variant. Its unique coupe-like style sets it apart from the rest of the SUV crowd, and puts it in a group with standout lookers like the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque and, to a lesser extent, the Mercedes-Benz GLK.
The X4 is somewhere between a station wagon and an SUV. It has all-wheel drive for all-season confidence, yet handles more like a car. The 2015 BMW X4 would catch the eye of someone who wants something sportier than an SUV, but still needs cargo space.
This all-new BMW has polarizing styling that isn’t going to appeal to everyone. It also doesn’t provide the cargo space or interior volume that an SUV does, so it isn't the most practical possible pick.
The 5-passenger X4 is all-new for 2015. It is based on BMW's X3 SUV platform, but is longer, lower and sportier. There are two engines, a 4-cylinder in the xDrive28i and a 6-cylinder in the xDrive35i, and all X4s come with an 8-speed automatic and all-wheel drive.
While BMW is known for making driver's cars, their SUVs aren't typically as sporty as their sports sedans. Then there's the 2015 BMW X4. This quasi-SUV drives much more like...
... a car, despite being based on the same underpinnings as the BMW X3 SUV. But BMW gave the X4 its own personality by lowering the ride height, making it longer, retuning the suspension, and giving it sportier steering. That mix makes the X4 downright fun on a twisty road. It's a treat to dive into corners with, staying planted and unfazed. We drove the turbo inline-6-powered X4 xDrive35i, backed by an 8-speed automatic transmission. With 300 horsepower, the inline-6 made the X4 very quick, and the suspension made the car spry and nimble. The X4's four selectable driving modes – Sport+, Sport, Comfort and Eco Pro – change the car's attitude, letting you bias your driving experience toward fuel efficiency or performance.
BMW made the sporty X4 an impressive fuel sipper. EfficientDynamics includes auto start/stop, low-rolling-resistance tires, brake-energy regeneration and a coasting function – technology you'd find in a hybrid. It works with the Eco Pro drive mode, which optimizes throttle response and transmission shifts, to achieve 28 highway mpg.
M SPORT PACKAGE
This isn’t just an attractive styling package, even though the white sport seats with red stitching and the unique wheels look terrific. The M Sport package also comes with a sportier suspension than the regular X4, and that makes runs on twisty mountain roads a thrill.
The 2015 BMW X4 we drove had a stylish cabin that combined black dash, doors and headliner with brushed aluminum accents. Its M Sport package added form-fitting white leather sport seats with contrasting red stitching. While the X4 still seats five fairly comfortably, the second row doesn’t offer as much legroom as the X3, . The 40/20/40 split rear seat helps make the interior versatile. It can hold up to 49.4 cubic feet of cargo when the rear seats are down. It's easy to reach that cargo, too: The Smart Opener allows you to open the tailgate with a wave of your foot.
The BMW X4's styling is the most controversial aspect of the vehicle. It also defines everything else about the car. Giving an SUV the lines of a coupe means that the rear end slopes down more dramatically, and that in turn reduces headroom and cargo volume beneath the rear hatch. But like it or not, the 2015 BMW X4 has a look that is all its own, instantly making it a car that stands out on the road. To make it more exclusive, the M Sport package adds aerodynamic cues, exclusive colors and 18-, 19- or 20-inch wheels.
All-wheel drive is a nice feature to have when weather gets rough, and in the X4, it comes standard. So do the power hatch and run-flat tires. Another nice standard feature: paddle shifters for the sport transmission. Whether you get the xDrive28i or the xDrive35i, Driving Dynamics control with Eco Pro, HD Radio and rear park distance control – which uses sensors and an alarm to let you know when the X4 is getting close to objects behind you – are also included.
BMW offers plenty of options, all wrapped into easy-to-order packages. Aside from the aforementioned M Sport package, there's the Technology package that adds navigation, head-up display and real-time traffic. You can also get the Lighting package, which includes full LED lighting. The Premium package groups lumbar support, a Nevada leather interior and satellite radio. Stand-alone choices for the 2015 X4 include Dynamic Damper Control which adjusts suspension to smooth the ride over potholes, harman/kardon surround sound and Concierge services that put you in touch with live help to find restaurants, ATMs and more with the push of a button.
There are two engines to choose from in the
BMW X4, both of which are turbocharged, and both of which are available in other vehicles throughout BMW's lineup, including the 3 Series sedans, the X3 SUV and 4 Series coupes. The 2015 BMW X4 comes with one transmission, an excellent 8-speed automatic, and as of right now, there is no rear-wheel-drive version.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
240 horsepower @ 5,000-6,500 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,450-4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/28 mpg (estimated)
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6
300 horsepower @ 5,800-6,000 rpm
300 lb-ft of torque @ 1,200-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 (estimated)
The 2015 BMW X4 xDrive28i starts at just over $45,600 and the xDrive35i starts at around $49,000, both including $925 destination. Shoot the moon and get all the possible options and those prices go up to about $62,000 and $66,000, respectively. Comparing the new X4 to the Range Rover Evoque, another uniquely styled sporty SUV, you'll find the Land Rover's price starting at about $42,000 and maxing out at over $65,000. Before you make your final deal, however, be sure to take look at Kelley Blue Book's Fair Purchase Price to get a better idea of what folks in your area are paying for their X4s.