by Gabe Beita Kiser
After the success of the X6, it was a no-brainer for BMW to turn their attention to making a smaller SUV coupe based on the X3. The 2018 X4 is part of the first generation introduced in 2014, and while it is designed around the X3, it is smaller and more expensive. The 2018 X4 has a two-trim range, with both models exclusively configured as all-wheel-drive. The base model xDrive28i has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, while the top-end M40i is fitted with a turbocharged 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine; both make use of a slick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. There are many rivals in the compact crossover segment like the Range Rover Evoque, Mercedes GLC, and the Audi Q5, and with its contentious look, nimble handling, and smooth ride quality, is able to stand its ground against competitors. The question remains, though: is it worth spending money on a niche-focused SUV with limited cargo space, cramped back seat, and pricey add-ons, all for the sake of style?
2018 holds no new updates or changes for the BMW X4, most probably because a refreshed model is on the horizon. It carries over unchanged.
This Bimmer looks like they took an X3 and squashed the back end in to give it a new shape, and the truth is, that's exactly what they've done with the hunchbacked X4. The front end is classic BMW with the central kidney grille, which opens and closes to aid aerodynamics, holding it all together. The molded bumper features generous air intakes and some sporty round fog lights beneath the LED headlights. The X4 has a slightly raised stance whether shod with the standard 19-inch, or 20-inch alloy wheels, and the distinct sloping roof dominates the side profile. The rear has large sculptured taillight clusters sitting above the stylish dual exhausts.
The X4 has average dimensions for its class, with a length of 184.3 inches on a 110.6-inch wheelbase. The height is 63.9 inches, and the width is 74.1 inches on the xDrive28i, and 74.8 inches on the M40i. The xDrive28i has a curb weight of 4,130 lbs while the M40i weighs in at 4,235 lbs. In comparison, the Mercedes GLC Coupe has a length of 183.3 inches on a 113.1-inch wheelbase; it is also taller and slightly wider than the X4.
There's a vibrant color palette available for the 2018 X4 encompassing both metallic and non-metallic colors, with certain options available to the varying trim levels. Jet Black and Alpine White feature at no additional cost, while the metallics, including Chestnut Bronze, Glacier Silver, Black Sapphire, Dark Graphite, and Carbon Black cost an extra $550. Mineral White and Mineral Silver also fall under this spectrum, adding to the range of lighter shades. Melbourne Red and Deep Sea Blue, also at $550, are a little more assertive and look particularly good on the X4.
Performance is one of the strongpoints of the X4, and both engines are lively and effortlessly get up to speed. The base-model xDrive28i's 240 horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-pot can easily get the crossover from 0 to 60 mph in around six seconds, which is more than enough for most day to day driving. Not only is it quick off the line, but it also holds the road well with its all-wheel-drive, which splits the torque with 40 percent going to the front wheels and 60 percent going to the rear. Taking power to a whole new level, the M40i, with its wild 355 hp turbo-six, has a fantastic pace off the line and hits 60 mph in under five seconds. With figures like that, some of the smaller BMW sedans must be blushing. The xDrive28i will probably be the most popular of the two with enough zest for everyday driving while those who crave an X4 M will have to make do with the M40i, at least until next year brings with it a real M-tuned X4.
Two powertrain options across the range provide ample fervor to both models. The xDrive28i, with its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, makes a decent 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Next to that, the potent M40i variant boasts a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder, which produces a hefty 355 hp and 343 lb-ft of torque. Both use BMW's eight-speed automatic transmission, which is one of the best in the business.
The xDrive28i is fun to drive and is, thankfully, one of the few entry-level SUVs that never feels underpowered. It delivers a great balance between zippy performance and decent fuel economy and feels equally at home whether on short drives or out on the open road. BMW built its reputation with cars that have great performance and driving dynamics, and the M40i is testament to that legacy. For a compact crossover, it lands a big punch. The eight-speed auto box that keeps everything running smoothly is the star of this show though; it has a knack of timing both upshifts and downshifts with precision and smoothness, and make the idea of phased-out stick shifts seem like less of a big deal.
The whole point of the X4 is to have an SUV that drives like a car, and in that respect, it mostly succeeds. The all-wheel-drive gives it phenomenal grip and aids the handling significantly. Although the weight of the X4 can be felt when cornering at speed, it sticks to the road like glue, and there's minimal body roll. As an option, BMW also offers Dynamic Damper Control to adjust the suspension according to the road conditions automatically and further improve the handling. For an SUV, the ride can be a bit harsh, but that can also be attributed to the sports-car angle that BMW is trying for as well as the 19- and 20-inch wheels. As a car with sporty aspirations, the steering feels surprisingly numb, but it gets the job done. The brakes are firm and respond without any spongy feel, performing on par for a vehicle in this segment.
While obviously not a true offroader, the X4's all-wheel drive and energetic engines make it more capable than many in its class, and as such, it's a pity that there's such limited space to pack for a weekend getaway. BMW seems to have achieved its goal of fusing a car and SUV into one to create the X4.
Fuel economy for both models is average, with the xDrive28i getting EPA estimates of 20/28/23 mpg and the M40i faring slightly worse at 18/25/21 mpg city/highway/combined. Both versions are fitted with a 17.7-gallon fuel tank, and based on the combined figures, the xDrive28i has an estimated range of 407 miles, while the M40i can travel around 370 miles before needing to refuel. The rival Mercedes GLC 300 all-wheel-drive offers more impressive fuel economy figures of 21/28/24 mpg and has a range of 418 miles thanks to the 17.4-gallon tank.
Premium feel materials and clean lines characterize the interior of the X4. Both the black plastic and aluminum trim look solid, and the wood trims add a touch of class. The buttons are all intuitively placed and simple to use. BMW's iDrive is one of the most practical infotainment systems to use and in the X4 is connected to a 6.5-inch infotainment display which dominates the center of the dash. The attention to detail is brilliant, with flawless stitching on the seats and dash, and soft padding on the areas that make contact with passenger's knees. The comfortable seats come in either Sensatec, BMW's imitation leather, or genuine Nevada Leather. The accommodation isn't as generous as the X3 due to the sloping roof, but four occupants can fit with ease provided they aren't too tall.
Some of the interior practicality had to be sacrificed for the sake of style, but the trade-off isn't too bad. Front occupants get a comfortable 39.3 inches of headroom and 40.4 inches of legroom. Rear passengers aren't so lucky, with only 37.3 inches of headroom and 34.8 inches of legroom available. The legroom is slightly restrictive, and the headroom also comes at a premium. Passengers over six-foot-tall will find their heads resting against the low roofline and will have to be careful when getting in. By way of comparison, the X3 obviously has more space with 41.1 inches of headroom and 40.3 inches of legroom in the front, and 39.1 inches of headroom and 36.4 inches of legroom in the rear - meaning more comfort for the larger occupant.
BMW has a stellar reputation for building solid interiors, and the X4 is no different. The X4's interior has a premium feel to it, with both soft-touch and hard-touch plastics neatly joined together with elegant stitching running the length of the dashboard. The well-placed, practical buttons also have a durable and robust feel to them. BMW offers a range of interior trims in both wood and metal finish for a more bespoke experience, including Brushed Aluminum, Fineline Anthracite, Burl Walnut, and Dark Copper. Sensatec upholstery is standard on the xDrive28i in either Beige or Black. Nevada leather is available as standard on the M40i in Sand Beige, Oyster Nevada, and Saddle Brown amongst others. Nevada leather is also available as a $1,450 optional extra on the xDrive28i.
In terms of volume, the X4 doesn't fare too badly, but because of the awkward shape of the trunk, it may be challenging to get taller objects in. However, the 17.7 cubic feet is enough for most day to day items like the weekly shopping, and can be increased to 49.4 cu-ft by dropping the rear seats. Of course, it doesn't come close to the 28.7 cu-ft that the X3 has with the seats up, or the 62.7 cu-ft it has with all its seats folded down, but what the X4 lacks in space, it makes up for with personality - at least, according to some fans.
Small-item storage is adequate with a standard-sized glovebox, front cupholders, front, and rear door pockets, as well as rear cupholders on the rear armrest. There is also front seatback storage and a storage bin in the center console.
The X4 comes with many standard features but falls short of some of the more luxurious features with other models in the BMW range have as standard. Still, there are many options to further increase the features with the various optional packages, but the costs can quickly push the price of the X4 to a ridiculous level.
Features on the entry-level xDrive28i include dual-zone climate control, imitation leather upholstery, a rearview camera, sunroof, heated and folding power mirrors, a power liftgate, eight-way power-adjustable seats with memory function, front and rear parking sensors, and cruise control. Building on these features, the M40i adds the M Package which includes a sport-tuned suspension, increased top speed, sports seats, a sports suspension, black exterior trim, and aerodynamic kit. It also adds keyless entry and ignition, ten-way power-adjustable seats, Nevada leather, and adaptive suspension.
The standard infotainment system in the xDrive28i is a bit basic but should get the job done with a 6.5-inch infotainment screen linked to BMW's iDrive and a nine-speakers. It also has Bluetooth connectivity, a CD player, HD radio, and USB and AUX inputs. The M40i gets upgraded to a Harman Kardon audio system with a trial version of SiriusXM satellite radio.
Unfortunately, Android Auto isn't available at all, and Apple CarPlay is available at a cost of $300, but only if you also pay $1,700 for navigation. This seems unreasonable as many lower-tier car makers are offering it at no extra cost. Wireless charging and a Wi-Fi hotspot are also optional extras.
There have been no recalls for the 2018 BMW X4, and it has a better than average reliability rating of three-and-a-half out of five from J.D. Power, which is quite average for this segment. The X4 has a basic warranty and powertrain warranty of four years/50,000 miles. The perforation and corrosion warranty lasts for 12-years/unlimited mileage, and roadside assistance runs for four years/unlimited mileage. BMW Ultimate Care is also offered for three years/36,000 miles.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has evaluated the 2018 BMW X4, but the European NCAP rating allocated to it was a full five stars, which bodes well for the vehicle's overall levels of safety. The X4 is expected to emulate the safety ratings of its counterpart the X3, which got a best-possible rating of Good in most of the IIHS tests.
The X4 has many standard safety features, as well as offering optional add-ons. Stability control, traction control, four-wheel ABS, tire pressure monitoring, adaptive headlights, and emergency braking preparation are standard fare, as are six airbags including both front and rear head airbags, and side curtain airbags. Driver aids are sparse, but at least include front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. The more advanced items, such as blind-spot monitoring, forward collision detection, surround-view camera, a head-up display, and a surround-view camera, need to be optioned on separately. It's great that the optional features are offered, but the cost can escalate exponentially. The Driving Assistance Plus Package comes at a cost of $1,700 and includes blind-spot monitoring, active driving assistant a surround-view camera, and speed limit info. The Driving Assistance Package is $1,200 and consists of a rearview camera and park distance control.
he X4 isn't easy to judge as good or bad because it is targeted at such a niche market; people who will love this vehicle are those looking for a stylish SUV with car-like performance and are happy to forego practicality, and pay more for that privilege. In terms of practicality, the X3 is a far better option because it's essentially the same car, but with more space and at a better price. However, the X4 is still a fun, distinctive vehicle in its own right. Many people love the unique look and want to break from convention. The interior is comfortable, and the options available mean you can truly customize this vehicle to suit you. The engine lineup is also brilliant and makes the X4 a fun and engaging drive - that's where the X4 starts showing why it's worth the money. After all, it's hard to put a price on the fun factor.
The entry-level xDrive28i starts at an MSRP of $47,600, while the M40i starts at an MSRP of $59,250. These figures exclude and registration, licensing, and taxes, as well as the $995 destination fee. Comparatively, the X3 xDrive28i starts at $42,650 and the X3 M40i starts at $54,500.
There are two models in the X4 range, namely the base xDrive28i, and the fully-loaded M40i.
The xDrive28 is powered by a 240 hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and an all-wheel-drive powertrain. It comes standard with dual-zone climate control, Sensatec upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable front seats, a universal garage door opener, cruise control, adaptive Xenon headlights, sunroof, power-folding mirrors, and a power liftgate. It also has a 6.5-inch display screen with iDrive, nine-speakers, a CD player, Bluetooth connectivity, BMW Assist emergency telematics, AM/FM radio, and USB and AUX inputs. Some of the standard safety equipment includes front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera.
The M40i is the more powerful trim with a 355 hp turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine. It has the same features as the xDrive28i but adds adaptive suspension, ten-way power-adjustable seats, keyless entry and ignition, and a Harman Kardon audio system with a one-year subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio. It also comes with the M Sport Package, which includes aerodynamic exterior touches, sports seats, a sports steering wheel, black exterior trim, a sport-tuned suspension, and an increased top speed.
As with all BMWs, there's the option of customizing the car with a number of optional packages and features. One of the more popular packages is the Driver Assistance Plus Package at $1,200, which includes blind-spot detection, active driving assist, surround-view camera, and speed limit info. There's also the Driver Assistance Package at $1,700 which incorporates a rearview camera and park distance control. The Cold Weather Package at $950 adds a heated steering wheel, heated front, and rear seats, and retractable headlight washers.
There are also some standalone options like blind-spot detection at $500, Apple CarPlay compatibility at $300, and the onboard navigation system at $1,700.
The entry-level xDrive28i is a capable daily driver which has adequate power for most occasions as well as a comfortable and upmarket interior. It has many features and sticks to the road with its all-wheel-drive system. But why settle for average, when the M40i encapsulates the idea of what a sporty coupe SUV should be? It's 355 hp engine makes it a pleasure to drive, and it feels like a high-riding hot-hatch, with uncomparable fun-factor for this segment. The fact that it comes with the M Sport Package makes it even better, and the adaptive suspension further increases its sportiness. If you're going for this somewhat controversial vehicle anyway, you may as well go all-in and aim for the top-end of the range and splash out on the M40i.
It's hard to mention the X4 without talking about the X3 on which it is based. The X4 is based on the second-generation X3, which has since been replaced with the new third generation. The X3 uses similar engines and has similar model names as well. It's ironic that the X3 is newer and bigger and still costs less, despite having similar power. The X4 240 hp xDrive28i starts at $47,600, while the X3 248 hp xDrive30i starts at $42,650. At the top of the range, the X4 355 hp M40i has a base price of $59,250, and the X3's 355 hp M40i comes in at $54,500. The interior of the X3 is very similar to the X4, but it comes with additional standard features like Apple CarPlay and a touchscreen. The X3 is newer and has more space and more features for a much lower price than the X4, and it definitely makes more sense to buy.
Every BMW model has to have a Mercedes as its nemesis, and for the X4 it's the GLC Coupe. Compared to the X4, the GLC starts at $46,600 for the entry-level GLC 300, with its 241 hp turbocharged 2.0 liter, four-cylinder engine with nine-speed automatic transmission. Next is the AMG GLC 43 at $60,400 with a 363 hp turbocharged 3.0 liter, six-cylinder, also with a nine-speed automatic. These two models compete directly with the xDrive28i, and the M40i at $47,600 and $59,250 respectively. Mercedes also has more performance-oriented models in the 503hp GLC 63 S at $80,750.
They are both similarly styled and have similar space, but the Mercedes has a slightly better interior with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay available on an 8.4-inch display. In terms of driving, they are both pleasant to drive and stick to the road. The GLC narrowly wins, only because it has more models to choose from, and those models simply blow away anything the X4 can throw at them.