2020 Ford Explorer vs. 2019 BMW X4

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Ford Explorer are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW X4 doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

Both the Explorer and X4 have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Explorer has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The X4’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

Both the Explorer and the X4 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, driver alert monitors, available all wheel drive and around view monitors.

Warranty

Ford’s powertrain warranty covers the Explorer 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than BMW covers the X4. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the X4 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are almost 9 times as many Ford dealers as there are BMW dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Explorer’s warranty.

Reliability

The Explorer has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The X4 doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the truck’s engine.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Ford vehicles are better in initial quality than BMW vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford fourth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 19 more problems per 100 vehicles, BMW is ranked 20th, below the industry average.

Engine

The Explorer has more powerful engines than the X4:

Horsepower

Torque

Explorer 2.3 turbo 4 cyl.

300 HP

310 lbs.-ft.

Explorer 3.3 DOHC V6 hybrid

318 HP

322 lbs.-ft.

Explorer Platinum 3.0 turbo V6

365 HP

380 lbs.-ft.

Explorer ST 3.0 turbo V6

400 HP

415 lbs.-ft.

X4 xDrive30i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

248 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

X4 M40i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

355 HP

365 lbs.-ft.

Fuel Economy and Range

Regenerative brakes improve the Explorer Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The X4 doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

The Explorer V6 Turbo’s standard fuel tank has 3 gallons more fuel capacity than the X4 (20.2 vs. 17.2 gallons).

The Explorer has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The X4 doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

A 10-speed automatic is standard on the Ford Explorer, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the X4.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Explorer’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the X4:

Explorer

Explorer ST

Explorer ST opt.

X4 xDrive30i

X4 M40i

Front Rotors

13.6 inches

13.6 inches

14.3 inches

13 inches

13.7 inches

Rear Rotors

12.4 inches

12.8 inches

13.8 inches

13 inches

13.6 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Explorer has larger standard tires than the X4 (255/65R18 vs. 245/50R19). The Explorer ST/Platinum’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the X4 (275/45R21 vs. 245/40R20).

Suspension and Handling

The Explorer’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The X4 doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Explorer’s wheelbase is 6.3 inches longer than on the X4 (119.1 inches vs. 112.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Explorer is 3.5 inches wider in the front and 1.7 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the X4.

For better maneuverability, the Explorer’s turning circle is .8 feet tighter than the X4’s (39.2 feet vs. 40 feet).

Chassis

The front grille of the Explorer (except 3.3 V6 non-Hybrid) uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The X4 doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Explorer Hybrid uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The X4 doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

The Explorer has standard seating for 7 passengers; the X4 can only carry 5.

The Explorer has 54.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the X4 (152.7 vs. 97.8).

The Explorer has 1.7 inches more front headroom, 2.3 inches more front legroom, 4.3 inches more front shoulder room, 3.3 inches more rear headroom, 3.5 inches more rear legroom and 5.9 inches more rear shoulder room than the X4.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Explorer’s middle row seats recline. The X4’s rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

The Explorer’s cargo area provides more volume than the X4.

Explorer

X4

Third Seat Folded

47.9 cubic feet

n/a

Third Seat Removed

n/a

18.5 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

87.8 cubic feet

50.5 cubic feet

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Explorer’s second and third row seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The X4 doesn’t offer automatic folding second row seats.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Explorer Limited/ST/Platinum’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The X4 doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Ergonomics

The Explorer offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The X4 doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The Explorer Limited/ST/Platinum’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The X4 doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Explorer’s exterior PIN entry system. The X4 doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system, and its BMW Assist can’t unlock the doors if the vehicle doesn’t have cell phone reception or the driver can’t contact the service.

The Explorer Limited/ST/Platinum has a 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The X4 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Model Availability

The Explorer is available in both rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The X4 doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Recommendations

The Ford Explorer outsold the BMW X4 by almost 61 to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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