BMW's 2017 X4 is a member of that emerging class of crossover SUVs that don't want to be crossover SUVs. It rides high like a crossover. The seating position is upright for better visibility as in a crossover. And, like a proper crossover, it's available with all-wheel drive. What it's lacking is all the utility you expect in a crossover.
BMW practically invented this new micro-niche within the macro-niche market for crossovers when it introduced the X6 for the 2008 model year. The X6, to oversimplify only very slightly, is an X5 that's had the rear part of its roof chopped off in favor of a fastback. Cargo capacity? That's gone. Headroom? Compromised.
What the X6 is to the large X5, the X4 is to the smaller X3 crossover. As a concept, it's a leap beyond the SUV. It's a sport-utility vehicle shorn of that pesky "utility" part. BMW calls it a "sports activity vehicle." So whatever. And, hey, it does look pretty good.
The most basic X4 is the X4 xDrive28i powered by BMW's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 240 horsepower and backed by BMW's eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting ability. It feeds the xDrive all-wheel-drive system.
Loitering in the ether above the "normal" X4 is the new X4 M40i that comes with a layer of awesome applied by BMW's in-house tuning shop, M. Replacing the X4 xDrive35i, the M40i uses a fortified version, the turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six rated a thumper-spec 355 horsepower. That's 55 more horses than were available in the xDrive35i and it almost makes the X4 seem, in a twisted way, logical. Think a 0-60 mph time in 4.5 seconds or less. That's starship acceleration. Though it would be nice if this starship had better outward visibility and the rear seat passengers had some additional noggin space.
Fuel economy is almost beside the point with the X4, but "almost" is a big word that leaves plenty of wiggle room. So the EPA rates the X4 xDrive28i at 23 mpg combined (20 city/27 highway). Despite its additional 115 hp, the fuel economy of the X4 M40i is close behind at 21 mpg combined (19 city/26 highway).
BMW's options lists are long and can get pricey. So before indulging, it pays to do some research. Or there may be an X4 in dealer inventory that's perfect for you, if you know where to look. Edmunds is here to help you with both needs. So use all the tools on this site and call us if that isn't enough.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.