Behind the Wheel

2020 BMW X4 M Competition Review: Feisty family-friendly fun

The BMW X4 Competition is track- and family-ready.

Photo courtesy of BMW Of North America

This is the X4 that BMW has meant to build the whole time. The 2020 BMW X4 M Competition is breathy, robust family hauler that convinces you that it's not your typical SUV, but rather a showstopper of a performance high-riding hatchback.

Just as you'd think from its name, the BMW X4 is bigger than the BMW X3 but rather than just being bigger, it's an SUV from a different vein. BMW's odd-numbered SUVs are off-road worthy with trail prowess. The even-numbered models are more performance-focused with their own set of looks.

2020 BMW X4 M Competition The SUV's stance looks beefy thanks to aesthetic enhancements.Photo courtesy of BMW Of North America

The X4 M Competition is set apart from the traditional X4 in a number of ways. On the exterior it has an M quad exhaust, M rear diffuser, M roof spoiler, M mirrors, M side air vents, and aggressive bumper air intakes. The looks is stronger and beefier than the traditional X4 but not so aggressive that it would turn off soccer moms.

Under the SUV's hood is a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter BMW M inline six-cylinder engine that is paired with an eight-speed M Sport automatic transmission. It gets 473 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque that gets it from zero to 60 mph in four seconds flat and up the highway on-ramp in quite a jiffy.

2020 BMW X4 M Competition The exterior of the X4 M Competition is more aggressive than the traditional X4.Photo courtesy of BMW Of North America

The X4 M Competition isn't particularly fuel efficient, but with its growl and prowl activity, it's not meant to be.

The SUV wins points for its untraditional shifter, which is a lovely change that empowers the driver.

Its standard auto start-stop technology is relatively smooth operating but easy to turn off. Its M Sport exhaust system delivers a lovely growl that will awaken your neighbors as you set off for an early flight. All-wheel drive is standard.

2020 BMW X4 M Competition The SUV is performance-focused but still family-friendly.Photo courtesy of BMW Of North America

The inside of the BMW X4 M Competition is pretty much the same old tune as the X4 except for the standard 14-way power front M sport seats which are more comfortable than their traditionally plush non-M seats in other X4 models. That's not usually the way it works, but in this case it's welcome.

2020 BMW X4 M Competition There's not a few aesthetic changes in the X4 M Competition that differentiate it from the traditional X4.Photo courtesy of BMW Of North America

The model doesn't have most of the standard safety and driver assistance bells and whistles that other SUVs have, even with their much lower price tags. The argument can be had that it's likely because this model is made to be track-ready. But, honestly, how many buyers are spending significant time on the track in this 4,600-pound high-rider?

2020 BMW X4 M Competition The model adds colored accents to the interior.Photo courtesy of BMW Of North America

The SUV's cargo space is fine for daily driver use and its M Sport appointments and color accents are a fun touch in the cabin. The LED-lighted M badging between the seat and headrest on the driver and front passenger seat are a fun addition to the model though there are purely for vanity.

It also isn't cheap. With a starting MSRP over $80,000, the X4 M Competition is for a particular customer who craves track-ready fun but also the type of practicality that lends itself to school drop offs and road tripping. This model checks all those boxes.

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Updated crossovers

BMW Announces Updates for 2022 X3 and X4

The X3 and X4 get meaningful updates for 2022.

BMW

European luxury brands have fully embraced the SUV and crossover craze. Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW have all drastically increased their utility vehicle catalogs in recent years, but haven't forgotten fun and drivability along the way. BMW in particular offers several models, each of which can be had in high-performance variants or with performance options packages. Two, the X3 and X4, will receive meaningful updates for the 2022 model year, with new powertrain tech and upgraded standard features.

The standard vehicles will be powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. All X3 and X4 models will get an eight-speed automatic transmission, and most will get standard all-wheel drive. Only the base X3 sDrive model will miss out. Both the X3 and X4 will be available with a Dynamic Handling Package, along with various steering and suspension upgrades. A Performance Control feature will be available for X3 models equipped with the M Sport package and standard for all X4 models, which brings the ability to shift torque to the rear wheels for better traction.


2022 BMW X4 Because of its sloping roof, BMW calls the X4 a coupe.BMW


Both the X3 and X4 will also be available in performance-oriented forms. The M40i models will be powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six engine that produces 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. BMW says the engine is powerful enough to propel the crossovers to 60 mph from a standstill in just 4.4 seconds and on to a stop speed of either 130 or 155 mph, depending on the tire.

BMW's Live Cockpit Plus system is standard for the X3, which includes a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen and a 5.1-inch color display in the center of a traditional gauge cluster. X4 models and upgraded X3 models will get a digital gauge cluster that measures 12.3 inches, along with a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Called Live Cockpit Professional, the system is based on BMW's latest iDrive 7.0 software and can display information such as maps and vehicle data directly in front of the driver. BMW says that iDrive 7.0 allows the vehicles to be updated over-the-air to add new digital services and keep vehicle systems running properly.


2022 BMW X4 Both the X3 and X4 will be available in high-peformance M models.BMW


If you're hoping to get ahold of the new X3 or X4, production will begin in August 2021 at BMW's Spartanburg, SC facility. Pricing will begin at $43,700 for the X3 and $51,800 for the X4. Both vehicles will be subject to a $995 destination charge and taxes.

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The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder arrives on dealer lots this summer.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder doesn't have to be capable of rock crawling or deep water fording. What it has to do is service the needs of families in their daily life and give them the opportunity to competently go off-roading on rocky trails should they desire. The new, fifth-generation models does just that and adds in enough nifty features to make it among the most compelling choices for three-row SUV buyers.

The 2022 Pathfinder is thoroughly modern though not the boxy off-roader it once was. The SUV's styling harkens back to that time with a tilted, darkened C-pillar and a return to a more muscular body style. That styling makes straightforward visibility good but for shorter drivers seeing what is immediately in front of the grille is a challenge that necessitates using surround view camera technology (available only in upper trim levels) when navigating challenging terrain.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can easily handle the roads less traveled.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 that offers up 291 horsepower and torque - plenty to do the job without complaint. The SUV's nine-speed automatic transmission replaces the continuously variable transmission (CVT) from the previous generation and delivers smooth shifts. Though low-end torque isn't as robust as I like it to be, once up over 35 mph, the Pathfinder's powertrain delivers smooth, powerful sailing.

The redesigned architecture and components underpinning the Pathfinder make it stable on the road and don't allow it to wallow on winding roads. Even off-road, the suspension provides the right blend of stability while the drive dynamics allowing the driver to feel engaged with their surroundings whether on freshly paved roads, city streets, or muddy trails.

Nissan has given the Pathfinder a 6,000-pound towing capacity and even when maxed out the engine's functionality is strong as ever. The transmission can get held up in a gear mid-range when performing this function, however, with 5,000-6,000 rpms registering on the tachometer but a quick release of the gas pedal recalibrates the offering bringing it down to a more traditional 2,000 rpm range.

The eight-seater Pathfinder clearly has the Toyota Highlander in its sights, with good reason. It's the top-selling three-row SUV in the country. Nissan boasts that three adults can fit across the rear bench seat of the Pathfinder and, as long as they're average size or smaller, the marketing talking point holds up. There is gobs more room back there than there is in the Highlander.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Nissan has given the Pathfinder ample cargo space.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Getting in and out of the third row is easy thanks to one-touch buttons on the outboard side of the second-row chairs that move the SUV's captain's seats forward creating enough room to get through to the back. Smartly, Nissan's engineers have put duplicates of these buttons on the back side of the same seats allowing third-row passengers to simply press the button to move the seat up.

The third row can also be accessed via a split between the captain's chairs as well, a space traditionally occupied by a center stowage bin/cup holders/arm rest. Owners can quickly remove the center console by opening a panel on the front and pulling the release mechanism. The one-handed operation takes seconds and the console can be easily stored in the under-floor trunk space behind the third row seat for ease.

Speaking of cargo space... The Pathfinder is one of the most spacious midsize SUVs on the market today for both passengers and cargo. There is a substantial amount of room behind the third-row seat and the under-floor storage area is nearly twice the size of the one in the Highlander. Plus, it has a feature that allows the area cover to be automatically propped up when pushed up by a user. This is especially help when carrying groceries or plants home and keeps them from being crushed.

The first- and second-row seats are suitably comfortable, even for extended periods of time and standard trig-zone climate control makes finding the right in-cabin mix easy. Bottle holders in the pockets of the front doors are exceptionally large, fitting even bulky water bottles.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder's front row seats are comfortable.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In front of the driver is a standard tachometer, speedometer, and 7.0-inch driver information display. Buyers can upgrade to a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster and head-up display but they're not reason enough to upgrade to the top-tier Pathfinder Platinum on their own.

Nissan packs the new Pathfinder with a host of desirable features that make living with the Pathfinder easier including one-touch auto up/down windows, a wireless phone charger, grocery hooks in the rear cargo area, USB ports in all three rows, second-row sunshades, rear door keyless entry, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a motion-activated lift gate.

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is priced to start at $33,410 for the two-wheel drive S base model and $35,310 for the four-wheel drive S base model. The model tops out around $50,000 with destination and delivery included, which seems fair when comparing the Pathfinder to other vehicles in the market.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 pounds.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

If you're thinking of purchasing a Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot, or Highlander, do yourself a favor and schedule a test drive of the new Pathfinder when it arrives at a dealer lot near you. You may just be surprised how seamlessly it fits into your daily life compared to the competition.

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