BMW X4 xDrive28i
Surprise! BMW is trying to become an eco-friendly brand. (And it's working.)
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
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.