2019 BMW X4
BY: Eric Peters
How do you make a crossover SUV not just another crossover SUV? One way is to chop the roof and make it look less like just another crossover SUV. Another way is to make it drive differently than other crossover SUVs — by putting something more than merely utilitarian under the hood.
BMW has done both things with the 2019 X4.
What It Is The X4 is a more interesting version of the X3, BMW’s midsize crossover SUV.
Both are mechanically — and even dimensionally — similar, but the X4 has a much sleeker (and much lower) profile. This costs a little headroom and cargo room, but not so much of either that the X4 becomes an impractical X3. The base price for the xDrive30i is $50,450. The high-performance M40i — which gets a 355-horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter straight six-cylinder in place of the standard turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine — costs $60,450 to start.
What’s New The 2019 X4 is completely redesigned ahead of the X3, which carries over into 2019 unchanged. The new X4 is similar in concept — and overall appearance — to the 2018 X4, but it’s a bit more practical now because it’s a little bit larger now.
BMW added 3 inches to its length, as well as some to its width, and that made it possible to punch out some more room for cargo, both behind the second row and with the second row folded.
It’s still not quite as much cargo space versus the X3, but the difference is less now: 50.5 cubic feet of total capacity for the X4 versus 62.7 for the 2018 X3. There’s also about an inch more legroom in back, too.
What’s Good It’s almost as practical as a crossover of the same size, but it doesn’t look like other crossovers. It doesn’t drive like most crossovers either. All-wheel drive is standard in both trims (it’s optional in the X3).
What’s Not So Good It costs a lot more than the X3 — which is $41,100 to start.
Apple CarPlay is available but optional — and subscription-based. Android Auto isn’t available at all.
Under the Hood
The standard engine in the X4 is BMW’s familiar 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, tuned in this case to 248 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque at 1,450 rpm.
It’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system as standard equipment.
The M40i gets the larger 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder, its power goosed to 355 horsepower and 343 foot-pounds of torque by a pair of turbochargers. It also comes with the eight-speed automatic and xDrive AWD, with a heavy-duty locking rear differential added to the mix.
This version of the X4 can get from zero to 60 mph in an exceptionally speedy 4.6 seconds, or nearly as fast as a new Mustang GT. But with AWD and 8 inches of ground clearance, the BMW isn’t flummoxed by snow — or even the absence of pavement under foot.
On the Road
Both of the X4 engines are exemplars of the new generation of turbocharged engines, which are designed to behave like bigger engines without the turbos.
If you didn’t know, you couldn’t tell.
The 2.0 engine’s peak torque (258 foot-pounds) is developed at 1,450 rpm and holds steady throughout the majority of the powerband. The six-cylinder develops its peak 343 foot-pounds of torque (output comparable to a 5-liter V-8 without a turbo) at a maximum 1,520 rpm.
The result is big-engine feel without the big engine — and with a smaller engine’s appetite.
Nether of these are gas misers. And they both expect premium unleaded, but mid-20s mpg (what you can expect to average) is better than the high teens you’d probably average with a bigger engine of comparable output.
At the Curb
If you look at the X4 from the door pulls up, you’ll see the profile of the 3 Series coupe. The roofline is low and slicked back. It’s 2.2 inches lower than the X3 roofline (63.8 inches versus 66 inches). Hence BMW’s term for this don’t-call-it-a-crossover: a Sports Activity Coupe. The four doors notwithstanding. It’s longer and wider than the current X3, too. This was done to make it a bit more practical than the first-generation X4. There’s almost an inch more back-seat legroom (35.5 inches versus 34.8 in the 2018 X4), and cargo space behind the second row has been increased to 18.5 cubic feet. Total cargo capacity is now 50.5 cubic feet, which is only about 11 cubic feet less than that in the X3 (62.7 cubic feet).
Some of the tech features that used to be available only in the highest-end BMW models like the 7 Series flagship are filtering to in-the-middle models like the X4. For example, you can get Gesture Control, which you can use to adjust the sound system volume without actually touching anything. It’s included with the Premium Package, which also gets you a heated steering wheel and a heads-up display.
A flat-screen gauge display is available, too.
One of the few things that’s not is Android Auto, which is an odd omission. Apple CarPlay is available, but you have to pay extra and it’s subscription-based.
The Bottom Line
If you need a crossover but don’t want just another one, the X4 could be the end run you’ve been looking for.
Eric’s new book, “Don’t Get Taken for a Ride!” is available now. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, COPYRIGHT 2018 CREATORS.COM