If it works, do it again. The X4 is BMW's boldly-styled X6 four-door-coupe-crossover concept fitted to a smaller form factor—in this case, using the X3 crossover as the basis instead of the X5. Like its big sister, the X4 mixes an upscale image with a surprisingly good driving experience; still, don't expect much in the way of heavy hauling or off-road chops.

Pricing and Equipment

The X4 comes in three versions. The xDrive28i and xDrive35i are powered by BMW's familiar turbocharged inline-four and inline-six motors, respectively. New this year is the X4 M40i, which cranks out 355 horsepower. In each case power is sent to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The X4 shares its platform with the X3; both are built at BMW's massive South Carolina facility. Per modern BMW practice, all driving systems are heavily computerized and managed through several driving-mode settings. Also as usual for BMWs, the X4 is loaded with occupant-safety systems; although the X4 has not been crash-tested by the IIHS, we expect its crashworthiness to be very similar to the X3's excellent results.

  • The 28i and 35i are available with either xLine (a few dress accents) or M Sport (a light performance-image treatment) trim to better match those who prefer another touch of high-class ornamentation or live a more active lifestyle, respectively.
  • We recommend taking the plunge on Dynamic Damper Control, which brings more driving mode options and an improved handling balance. We then recommend leaving it in Sport or Sport Plus as much as possible, which brings everything back to the reality that this is a BMW, after all.
  • Prepare for the typical BMW experience of resolving option package clashes and occasionally adding expensive features to get other (often expensive) features.

Choosing the X4's fashionable lines means spending a few thousand dollars more than on a comparable X3. The X4 xDrive28i starts at $45,250, the 35i lists at $49,700 and base on the M40i is $57,800; add $995 for delivery and then start considering your options, which can rapidly add several thousand dollars more to the bottom line.

Performance Pros

BMW X4

The X4 takes everything good about the X3—already one of the best-performing crossovers—and gives it a bit more of an edge. Revised suspension tuning and a lower center of gravity endow the X4 with handling much better than its urbane image and considerable mass might suggest.

  • Acceleration ranges from wonderfully usable in the 28i to forceful in the M40i.
  • The all-wheel drive system is optimized for fast road use, balancing torque delivery between the axles to provide a brilliant mix of stability and feel.
  • Performance Control is a generic name for an interesting handling-enhancement technique: the stability-control system is programmed to work a bit like a limited-slip differential, feeding more power to the outside rear wheel to improve turn-in in a corner.

Performance Cons

  • The tradeoff that comes with the on-road focus of the AWD system is the need to stay on well-defined roads or paths. Even the inclusion of BMW's Hill Descent Control system doesn't make the X4 a viable off-roader.
  • BMW's engine stop/start system helps boost gas mileage but is still not as seamless as it should be, occasionally sending a slight judder through the body.

Interior Pros

BMW X4

The X4's interior is textbook contemporary BMW: full of high-tech attitude and modern design. Materials and fit are excellent, and even if the array of buttons and controls can be a bit overwhelming at first it all works very well after a bit of familiarization.

  • A tasteful dose of trim adds some brightness and class to the businesslike dash, nicely balancing the design between Spartan plainness and gaudy excess.
  • BMW's steady improvements have turned the once-loathed iDrive into an effective and usable infotainment system. Opting for navigation upgrades the display to a touchscreen.
  • A long list of driver assists and extra sensors are available to help manage the X4 in conditions from harsh weather to chaotic mall parking lots.

Interior Cons

  • Rear headroom and cargo capacity are maybe better than the fastback roofline would suggest, but fitting three across in back is pushing the case a bit; the interior designers clearly intend for two (preferably not very tall) passengers to sit in the second row.
  • Given the X4's all-weather capabilities and easy appeal to skiers, it's a surprise to see that heated seats are a fairly expensive option.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

Even if it isn't as supernatural as the X6 in the inertia-management stakes, we are still seriously impressed by the tall, heavy X4's ability to hustle along a tight two-lane. All those computers and sensors and actuators working in close concert with BMW's traditional excellent suspension tuning pay off.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

For a vehicle with clear upscale pretensions, we cannot understand why BMW insists on making fairly ordinary features—heated seats again, but also navigation and a rearview camera—expensive options instead of standard equipment.

The Bottom Line

If the look and attitude work for you, the machinery underneath will more than hold up its end of the consideration. Be prepared to pay premium pricing in exchange for premium equipment, though.