By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 7.4
BMW hasn't heard of a vehicle niche it doesn't like. With that in mind, it introduced the BMW X4 last year as an entry into the small, somewhat practical, definitely fun-to-drive, 5-passenger SUV market. Based on the BMW X3, the 2016 BMW X4 is more of an SUV than a sporty hatchback. That said, its smaller cargo area makes it less useful than the bigger X3, although the coupe-like styling and fun-to-drive nature more than make up for that. Those characteristics set it apart from its competition, which consists mostly of smaller SUVs like the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque and Mercedes-Benz GLA, although both are notably smaller than a 2016 X4.
If you want your luxury SUV to emphasize sport more than utility, then a new BMW X4 might be just the ticket. With its sporty handling and sharp styling, the 2016 X4 definitely puts a priority on driving, while still giving you more cargo room than a sedan.
On the other hand, if you want your SUV to be a utility vehicle, then all the sharp handling in the world won't change your mind. Instead, the BMW X3 might be a better pick, or maybe a competitor like the Mercedes-Benz GLC or Land Rover Discovery.
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All-new last year, the 2016 BMW X4 gets only a handful of revisions this year. Bluetooth functionality is enhanced, with changes including the ability to connect two phones simultaneously, and the addition of BMW Mobile Office, which allows you to check email, update your calendar, and other functions.
Most SUVs aren't particularly fun to drive. However, BMW is trying to change that with the 2016 BMW X4. Although it retains the taller stance of an SUV, it sports...
... a coupe-like body. The upshot is that this quasi-SUV drives much more like a car, despite being based on the same underpinnings as the BMW X3 SUV. With a retuned suspension, sportier steering and a pair of powerful engines to choose from, the BMW X4 is downright fun on a twisty road. The 2016 X4 is a luxury SUV that dives into corners, staying planted and unfazed. Backed by an 8-speed automatic transmission, the available 300-horsepower, turbocharged inline-6 powering the X4 xDrive35i makes the X4 very quick. The suspension adjusts through four modes – Sport+, Sport, Comfort and Eco Pro – all of which change the car's attitude and let you pick efficiency, performance or spots in between.
The Eco Pro drive mode makes the BMW X4 a decent fuel-sipper, with the turbocharged 4-cylinder in the X4 xDrive28i getting up to 28 mpg on the highway. It's due to BMW's EfficientDynamics, which includes hybrid-like technologies such as auto start/stop, low-rolling-resistance tires, brake-energy regeneration and a coasting function.
M SPORT PACKAGE
We're also suckers for performance, and the upgraded suspension on the M Sport package available on the 2016 X4 makes short work of twisty roads. The great-looking wheels and white sport seats with red stitching are just icing on the cake.
The 2016 X4 interior is familiar, with black dash, doors, headliner and brushed-aluminum accents, combined with BMW's typically good controls and layout. We liked the M Sport package's form-fitting white leather sport seats with contrasting red stitching. Surprisingly, the rear seat can seat three in relative comfort, although legroom isn't as good as the BMW X3. The 40/20/40-folding split rear seat helps customize the cargo area's shape, and when all three sections are folded it expands to 49.4 cubic feet. A wave of your foot opens the hatch thanks to the X4's Smart Opener.
The BMW X4 has generated some controversy for its styling, and we'll admit that the sleek hatchback lines atop a beefy SUV chassis take a bit of getting used to. Nonetheless, it looks better than the larger X6. The dramatically sloped rear end looks cool, even if it inhibits rear-seat headroom and cargo space. But BMW is banking that 2016 X4 customers will be more interested in those sleek lines and the sharper handling they promise than in passenger and cargo hauling. The M Sport package adds aggressive styling cues, and buyers can choose wheels up to 20-inches across.
Along with all-wheel drive, a power hatch and run-flat tires, all 2016 BMW X4 models get enhanced Bluetooth and USB functionality, which includes BMW's Mobile Office for using email, text and other functions from your car. Given its sporty nature, the X4 also gets paddle shifters for its automatic transmission, which complement the standard Driving Dynamics control feature's Sport and Sport+ modes. Other features are HD Radio, rear parking assist, and on 6-cylinder-powered xDrive35i models, a standard harman/kardon surround-sound audio system.
Some of the numerous option packages available for the 2016 X4 get price cuts this year. For example, the Driver Assistance Plus package – which bundles blind-spot detection, side- and top-view cameras, collision mitigation and other safety tech – is $200 less. The Technology Package bundles navigation, head-up display and real-time traffic, and it's $400 less this year. A Lighting package adds LED headlights, and a Premium package upgrades the seats and leather. An available Dynamic Damper Control adjusts the suspension to smooth the ride over potholes. Note that Concierge service is now part of the Connected Drive bundle.
Two turbocharged engines – one powerful, one really powerful – tempt the right foot of BMW X4 drivers. On the 2016 X4 xDrive28i there's the tried-and-true 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder we've come to love in so many other BMW models. The X4 xDrive35i offers up the turbocharged 3.0-liter 6-cylinder we love even more. Both come connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive is standard across the board. Fuel economy is surprisingly good for this type of vehicle, with the xDrive28i achieving up to 28 mpg on the highway. That's good news, as both X4 models demand premium fuel to satisfy their appetites.
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: 20/28 mpg
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: 19/27 mpg
The 2016 BMW X4’s relative lack of utility compared to the X3 extends to its price. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the 2016 X4 xDrive28i starts at about $45,900, while the 6-cylinder X4 xDrive35i starts around $50,250; both prices include a $995 destination charge. Load up on options and you're well into the $60,000 range. Those base prices are a few thousand more than the X3, but then again, BMW doesn't think X3 and X4 buyers will cross-shop. Compare the BMW X4 to the Range Rover Evoque, another uniquely styled sporty SUV, and you'll find the 4-cylinder-only Land Rover's price starts a bit lower, and tops out a bit higher than the xDrive28i. 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.