BMW X4 xDrive28i

Surprise! BMW is trying to become an eco-friendly brand. (And it's working.)

The BMW x4 xDrive28i will direct you to the greenest route and shuts off fuel while coasting. (Courtesy of BMW)
bmw x4drive28i cars and trucks eco friendly autos

The Sell: Sleeker than BMW’s X3, taller than a three-series wagon, this is a mix between a tall coupe and a small crossover. 

The Test: You can forgive us for not thinking of BMW as an “eco” brand. It’s the “Ultimate Driving Machine,” not the ultimate tree-hugging machine. But a week in the i3 and the X4 offers a glimpse at where BMW’s going, not where the brand’s been.

The X4 ($44,700; 20 mpg city/28 hwy) has what BMW calls Eco Pro, which directs you to the greenest route (avoiding big climbs and traffic), and shuts off fuel while the car’s coasting. There’s an auto-stop/start mode that kills the engine when you’re stuck in traffic or sitting at a red light. Instead of a stick shift, the X4 gets an ultra-smooth-shifting, eight-speed automatic transmission that you can also shift manually.

The car has AWD, as well as about 50 cubic feet of cargo room. And the rear seat splits 40/20/40, the better to create a bespoke wagon-like space for gear and passengers.

You might be wondering why you’d get the X4 instead of the amazing $43,450 diesel-powered 328d wagon we praised last year, which has a hair more cargo room, AWD, and gets an astonishing 43 mpg on the highway. But the 328d rides at a ground-hugging 5.7 inches, while the X4 has eight inches of ground clearance, but still corners like a classic sporty BMW.

What’s Missing: More rear seat legroom

The Verdict: Wagon-like utility, fire-road ride height, and European sports-sedan handling.

Filed To: Cars
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