The 2016 BMW X4 marks the second year of production for this so-called "sports-activity coupe." That’s BMW’s term, mind you, not ours. What does it mean? Well, in practice, it refers to an existing BMW crossover: in this case, the exemplary X3, which has undergone some serious cosmetic surgery, emerging as a beefy hatchback with a rakish fastback roof line. You lose some cargo and passenger space in the deal, but you theoretically gain some style and sportiness. Naturally, you have to pay more, too.
The 2016 BMW X4 isn’t exactly a track star, but it’s a decent handler by crossover standards.
Possibly you can sense our skepticism. But if you think the BMW X4 looks cooler than the X3, who are we to tell you otherwise? Under the skin, the X4 shares its superb four- and 6-cylinder turbocharged engines with the X3, lacking only the latter’s optional turbodiesel four. Its features are largely the same, too, which means it offers a very generous array of convenience and technology items. At heart, it’s just a different flavor of X3, and if you drive them both, who knows? The X4 just might feel like a better fit for your lifestyle.
If you’re looking for X4 alternatives, there aren’t many that fall into the same category. You’ve got to try the 2016 BMW X3, of course, but it’s a traditional crossover with a different look altogether. The sleek 2016 Porsche Macan is a tough match-up with its superior power and handling, but it might be hard to find one you want in the X4’s price range. As for the 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, it certainly has head-turning looks, but its mandatory turbo 4-cylinder engine is rather unappetizing, and its handling is no great shakes, either.
At the end of the day, then, the 2016 BMW X4 has more going for it than the skeptics might think. It’s easy to fixate on the similar X3’s superior versatility, but if you look at what else is out there, you’ll see that the SUVS "B" rated X4 could actually make sense for the right shopper.
Both of the X4’s engines are absolutely first-rate. The "base" turbo 4-cylinder packs a real wallop when you put your foot in it, pressing you back in your seat and making a mockery of its claimed 240-hp output. The xDrive35i, meanwhile, is quick enough to keep up with a number of high-performance sport sedans. Shifts come quickly yet smoothly from the sharp transmission, making the otherwise welcome shift paddles seem superfluous in most scenarios. In short, there aren’t any weaknesses in the X4’s powertrain portfolio.
The 2016 X4 wouldn’t be our first choice for driving through a snowy mountain range, but with its four-wheel thrust and decent ground clearance, it’s got all-weather skills.
On the other hand, a letdown may be in store if you’re expecting razor-sharp handling from this supposedly sportified crossover. Pressed hard on a curvy road, the X4 feels more ponderous than expected, even though it comes standard with some aggressive features that are optional on the X3, such as variable-ratio steering and torque-vectoring all-wheel drive. Nonetheless, it keeps its composure well enough, while its drive is sufficiently supple unless you spring for a set of sexy-looking big wheels (especially the optional 20s). In any form, the X4 exhibits excellent high-speed stability and generally holds road noise to an absolute minimum.
The 2016 BMW X4 is a four-door crossover with coupelike styling. There are two trim levels, each with its own engine: 4-cylinder xDrive28i and 6-cylinder xDrive35i.
The X4 xDrive28i comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, variable-ratio steering, automatic adaptive xenon headlights, LED running lights and foglights, adaptive LED taillights, automatic wipers, a sunroof, auto-dimming mirrors (with exterior power-folding functionality), a power liftgate, rear parking sensors, ambient interior lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control, "SensaTec" premium vinyl upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, eight-way power front seats with driver memory settings, 40/20/40-split folding rear seatbacks, Bluetooth phone and sound connectivity, BMW Assist emergency telematics, the iDrive electronics interface and a nine-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio and a USB port and an auxiliary sound input.
Aside from its more powerful engine, the xDrive35i adds 19-inch wheels and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.
Every 2016 X4 comes standard with iDrive, which includes a large control knob to the right of the shift lever.
The X4’s many available options are generally bundled into packages. The Premium package includes hands-free liftgate access via a foot sensor, keyless entry and ignition, leather upholstery, front seat power lumbar adjustments and satellite radio. The Cold Weather package consists of retractable headlight washers, a heated steering wheel and heated front and rear seats. The Lighting package features full LED headlights with automatic high beams.
The Driver Assistance package adds front parking sensors and a rearview camera. Spring for the Driver Assistance Plus package and you’ll also get active blind-spot monitoring, a surround-view camera system, lane-departure warning, a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking and (available at extra cost) adaptive cruise control.
The Technology package features a larger central iDrive screen, a navigation system, an enhanced driver information display in the gauge cluster, a head-up display, smartphone-app integration and BMW Remote Services (featuring remote car access via smartphone and remote locking/unlocking via BMW’s call center).
The M Sport package adds 19-inch sport wheels (20-inchers are optional), an aerodynamic body kit, front sport seats, a sport steering wheel, an increased top-speed limiter and numerous interior trim enhancements.
Stand-alone options include some of the above items (e.g., the navigation system and, for xDrive28i, the Harman Kardon sound system) plus adaptive suspension dampers and an automated parking system.
The front compartment of the X4 feels somewhat more intimate than that of the X3, highlighted by a wide center console that creates a sporty, dual-cockpit feel. Top-quality materials are evident throughout. The standard seats provide adequate comfort, but definitely check out the M Sport front seats if you’re interested, as their bolsters are much more substantial all around. The rear seat is well shaped for two, but the bottom cushion has been mounted low to accommodate the encroaching roof line. Even so, headroom for taller passengers can be tight.
The M Sport package endows the 2016 BMW X4 with a decidedly sporty flat-bottom steering wheel, among other interior upgrades.
The optional navigation system boasts an upgraded widescreen display with extraordinary graphics, and its enhanced iDrive control interface adds a touchpad for letter and character inputs. Either way, we’ve found that iDrive responds quickly to commands, but it often takes a few more clicks and spins of the knob to access desired functions compared with competitor systems. Still, you can’t argue with the deep capabilities it provides.
If you’re looking for serious hauling capability, the X4 comes up short. With 17.7 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seat and 49.4 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded down, this chubby crossover gets nosed out by the humble Volkswagen Golf hatchback. To be fair, the Golf is actually incredibly spacious for a compact hatch. Meanwhile, X4 competitors like the Macan and Range Rover Evoque are similarly challenged. Still, given the X3’s superior standard and maximum measurements (27.6 cubes and 63.3 cubes, respectively), there’s no doubt that form has trumped function in this case.
Standard safety equipment on the 2016 BMW X4 includes antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, rear parking sensors, active head restraints, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Also standard is BMW Assist eCall, which includes automatic collision notification and an emergency assistance button.
The Driver Assistance package adds front parking sensors and a rearview camera. Spring for the Driver Assistance Plus package and you’ll also get active blind-spot monitoring, a surround-view camera system, lane-departure warning, forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking and (available at extra cost) adaptive cruise control.
Optional safety equipment includes front parking sensors, a rearview camera, a surround-view camera system, active blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking.
During SUVS testing, an X4 xDrive 28i came to a stop from 60 miles per hour in 122 feet, an average performance among similarly sized luxury crossovers.
The X4 xDrive28i uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder rated at 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, while the xDrive35i gets a turbocharged 6-cylinder that packs 300 hp and 300 lb-ft. Both send power to all four wheels via a standard sport-tuned eight-speed automatic transmission (an extra-cost option on the X3). The all-wheel-drive system includes standard torque-vectoring ("Performance Control") to maximize handling precision.
With standard all-wheel drive, the 2016 BMW X4 should prove capable on snow-covered roads.
At the SUVS test track, an X4 xDrive28i sprinted to 60 miles per hour in 6.3 seconds, which is pretty quick for the entry-level trim and notably faster than an X3 with the same engine. BMW claims the X4 xDrive35i requires just 5.2 seconds to hit 60.
On the fuel economy front, the xDrive28i earns EPA estimates of 23 miles per gallon combined (20 city/28 highway), and it achieved an extraordinary 28.1 miles per gallon on the SUVS mixed-driving evaluation route. The xDrive35i, meanwhile, nearly matches that efficiency at 22 miles per gallon combined (19 city/27 highway). All X4s come with an automatic stop-start function that shuts off the engine when you’re stopped to save fuel.
Powerful and fuel-efficient engines; cozy ride; solid construction.
With coupelike styling on a crossover SUV body, the 2016 BMW X4 is certainly a distinctive vehicle, though its utility pales in comparison to less style-driven models.