I will never question a BMW’s ride and handling. Whether you are in a roadster or an SUV, you are guaranteed to have one of the best-driving vehicles on the market.
Such is absolutely the case with the 2019 BMW X4.
On my first foray out, I stepped into the left lane to go with the flow of traffic and got frustrated because I thought everyone was moving too slow. Until I looked down at my speedometer.
Needless to say, I was not going 55 mph.
The design, on the other hand, is questionable in my book. I’ve never been a fan of the egglike profile that was first introduced with the X6 back in 2008. I thought (hoped!) it would be a fad that would soon die out, but BMW kept making them, and other automakers started emulating them.
While Honda’s and Acura’s sloped-back SUVs have disappeared, BMW keeps producing new ones. In fact, the X4 is all-new for 2019, entering its second generation.
Someone clearly likes this look. It just isn’t me.
The interior is a completely different story. It’s classic BMW, complete with a large infotainment screen above the center stack, comfortable sport seats, well-stitched leather and surfaces that are pleasing to touch.
The test vehicle came equipped with the Tacora Red Vernasca leather seating surfaces ($1,700), and it was a stunning contrast to the black exterior.
One thing to note: While the interior is zesty with color choices, the exterior paint colors are limited. I hope you like black. Or white. Or black. Or white. Or gray.
Alpine White and Jet Black are the only two colors available without a paint premium, and the only available colors that aren’t some variation of black or white include Flamenco Red Metallic, Dark Olive Metallic and Phytonic Blue Metallic (all $550 extra)
Ride & Handling
The test vehicle was an X4 xDrive30i, which comes equipped with a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder turbocharged engine. It delivers 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque and promises a 0-to-60-mph time of 6 seconds.
This engine operates beautifully on the highway. For aggressive passing maneuvers and fast-pace highway merges, it is a thing of beauty. Effortless, fast and everything you could possibly want. At highway speeds, the X4 digs in to the pavement and the air flows around the edges – perhaps the one benefit of the egg shape. This gives you a feeling of stability at higher speeds.
I did notice, however, a tinge of turbo lag when accelerating from a stop that can be problematic if you’re trying to make a left turn into a small window of traffic. My heart almost stopped when I was trying to access a main road from a side street and there was a pause before acceleration.
Alternatively, there is an M Performance model that comes with an inline 6-cylinder engine that delivers 355 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque.
All-wheel drive is standard on all X4s.
EPA estimates that you should get 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg, on the highway. In a week of combined driving, I averaged about 19.7 mpg.
Tech & gadgets
One of the neatest things the X4 has going for it is the industry-first wireless Apple CarPlay. However, this is kind of a happy/sad tech feature. I love that you don’t have to get mired in wires to connect to the phone mirroring system. But the fact that you aren’t wired in means there will be a delay between giving a command and the execution of said command.
Though BMW offers CarPlay, it does not offer Android Auto.
Additionally, in typical BMW everything’s-an-option fashion, CarPlay isn’t free like it is on virtually every other automakers’ vehicles. BMW makes it a subscription-based feature with a free one-year trial. It’ll cost $80 per year and is purchased through the ConnectedDrive Store.
Other tech features of note include the standard 10.25-inch touchscreen display, available head-up display, an available WiFi hotspot for up to 10 devices, a 360-degree back up camera, BMW connected services and available safety features such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and lane keep assist.
Instead of doing trims, per se, BMW is a fan of tiers, design themes and options -- lots of options.
If you opt for the X4 M40i ($60,450), with the up-level engine, you jump right into the options. But if you start with the X4 xDrive30i ($50,450), you first select design theme xLine vs. M Sport Design (+$2,720), and then add your “tier.”
Features in the tiers are also available as individual options, but this gives you the opportunity to bundle some of the more popular options together for better pricing.
Tiers are as follows:
Convenience (+$1,000): Available on the xLine design theme, as the M Sport Design adds these features as standard. This tier adds comfort access keyless entry, lumbar support and SiriusXM radio.
Premium (+$1,600): Available on both design themes, this tier includes Comfort features on xLine and adds a heated steering wheel, gesture control and head-up display.
Executive (+5,850): Available on both design themes, this tier includes all Premium features and adds surround view with 3D view, active park distance control, dynamic digital instrument cluster, adaptive full LED lights, automatic high beams, parking assistant plus and ambient lighting.
The test vehicle was an X4 XDrive30i with the Executive Tier packaging. Additional options included the Driving Assistance Package, Dark Graphite Metallic exterior paint, wireless charging and WiFi hotspot for an as-tested price of $57,895.
The BMW X4 offers standard front collision warning, city collision mitigation and speed limit information. Up-level available safety features include adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, front cross-traffic alert and side collision avoidance.
The BMW X4 hasn’t been rated by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Ever.
New for 2019
The X4 is all-new for 2019. Vehicle highlights include a wider track, lower center of gravity, a 75-percent larger multi-color head-up display, a new panoramic moonroof and 3-zone climate control.
A few of my favorite things
I love driving this car. As soon as you get behind the wheel you forget you’re in an SUV – or “Sport Activity Coupe” as BMW likes to call it. The seats are supportive, and highway maneuvers are effortless.
Even though there was some lag with the wireless Apple CarPlay, I liked not having to wire in every time I got into the car.
It’s also worth noting that even though the rear of the vehicle is severely sloped, there’s still a decent amount of cargo volume at 18.5 cubic feet.
What I can leave
I love that automakers are creatively thinking about how to make a seat that fits both tall and small drivers. And seat extenders seem like the answer to all ills. Or they would be if the lowest setting truly fit the fifth percentile female. Yet I found the seat bottoms in the X4 just a tad too long.
While I like the idea of gesture control, it’s still a bit finicky. I found that when I would reach for my water bottle in the cup holder, it would sometimes mute my audio. And if I was setting my Waze navigation before leaving my garage, it would change my radio stations with every swipe on my phone.
Additionally, I loathe the fact that CarPlay is a subscription-based option.
Also of note: There really aren’t many exterior color options available for the X4, and in fact, the only colors available without an upcharge are black and white.
The bottom line
The tagline “The Ultimate Driving Machine” is appropriate for all things BMW. And even if I don’t like how the X4 looks, I love how it drives.
So, if you can get beyond the exterior façade – and a lot of people apparently can – then the X4 has a lot to offer, including decent second-row legroom, flexible cargo storage and fun-to-drive dynamics.