2019 BMW X4 XDrive30i Review - Function Follows Form
2019 BMW X4 xDrive30i
There was a loud, painful sounding thunk. It wasn’t the sound of the door closing that has been compared for generations to that of a bank vault. Rather, my teenaged daughter whacked her head on the low, sweeping C-pillar, reminding me of the countless concussion protocol waivers I’ve digitally signed over her years in various competitive sports.
No damage that required missing a game, thankfully – only wounded pride. But it served as a reminder that there is a price to be paid for style. The current fashion of four-door “coupes,” whether of the sedan or crossover variety, may be trendy, but for those raising kids of greater than average height, this 2019 BMW X4 might not be the ideal statement vehicle.
Webster’s Dictionary defines “ coupé” as “a 2-door automobile often seating only two persons,” and that’s all for my middle school term paper on the dual subjects of automotive construction and semantics. BMW calls this a Sports Activity Coupe, which I will print here once for search engine optimization purposes. In reality, it’s a four-door crossover with a steeply raked hatchback.
There must be people out there who prefer this hunchback look over that of a more square-rigged crossover, else BMW wouldn’t commit the time on the line in South Carolina to it. I’ll freely admit I’m not a fan, but I do appreciate when automakers take risks. Forward of the B-pillar, it looks fine, though I can’t get over the shape of the wheel wells front and rear – they aren’t fully round, but neither are they squared off. There’s an asymmetrical kink in both front and rear cutouts that looks out of place.
Beyond the B-pillar, the X4 goes off the rails. The subtle spoiler atop the rear glass visually lengthens the roof but creates extra lines that make everything look disjointed. The sweep of the line atop the fender leads to a duckbill spoiler aft of the glass, further confusing the onlooker. It’s bulbous and unappealing.
The interior is similarly good in first class, while getting less so as one moves toward coach. The front seats are excellent, with the manual adjustment for thigh support being especially welcome for my weirdly proportioned legs. Points are added for the lovely red leather – too few automakers offer red anymore. The rear seat, by BMW’s calculations, loses just an inch of headroom from the more mainstream X3 on which the X4 is based. However, at five feet, seven inches, my teenager needed to tilt her head to keep from pressing her noggin into the nicely upholstered headliner. I could see her head clearly in the rear-view mirror, of course, since the view out of the rear of the X4 was severely limited by the fastback design. Cargo room is similarly impacted – that shallow glass drops cargo space with the rear seats erect from 28.7 cubic feet on the X3 to 18.5 cubes on this X4. This is not the crossover with which you should haul that old 35-inch tube TV to Goodwill.
Fortunately, the X4 is built on the good bones of the excellent X3. That means driving manners that are much better than one would expect for the class. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (inexplicably alluded to as a three-liter as part of the xDrive30i nomenclature) feels more powerful than the 248 horsepower listed, allowing the 4,146 pound crossover to fairly leap off the line to a factory-quoted zero-to-sixty of six seconds flat. Upshifts from the eight-speed automatic are quick yet smooth, while downshifts are nicely timed for the most part.
I will note that the transmission seems to anticipate coming to a complete stop, such as at a traffic light. Under gradual braking in these scenarios, the shifting gets a bit abrupt, apparently in effort to induce engine braking and get the engine shut down for the fuel-saving start-stop feature. This means braking for that traffic light can get a bit jerky.
Handling is surprising, in a good way. This is a heavy vehicle, but the steering is nicely weighted, giving reasonable feedback when driving with verve. On the highway, the ride is quiet, while impacts with bumps and potholes are dispatched with a quiet thud and little drama. The top-down camera view makes parking much simpler than it should be, considering the minimal rear window. Further, the mileage I experienced (27.3 MPG, with a mix of driving skewed more toward low-speed city miles) was frankly impressive. The X4 is easy to live with.
Surely there will be those reading this for whom the styling is beyond appealing. More power to you, I say. If you like the styling and can manage with the limits on head and cargo room, there is no reason not to pull the trigger. The X4 rides and drives beautifully, with more power and better acceleration than one would expect from this class of small luxury crossover. It’s comfortable, efficient, quiet, and displays a badge that generally commands a bit of respect from onlookers, if that’s important to you.
[Get new and used BMW X4 pricing here!]
But I need that extra space. The X4 doesn’t provide it. The kid has the bruise to prove it.
[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]
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