Owning a BMW 4x4 model is one of life's pleasures, but many prospective buyers have one or two questions...

General questions.

The first number refers to how many wheels are on the vehicle, the second to how many of them are powered. So, 4x4 means four wheels, each getting power.

Yes, although an AWD vehicle may have more than four wheels. Certain military vehicles have six or eight wheels, all of which may be driven.

Yes they are. Although the phrase ‘4x4’ is generally used to describe a large SUV-type vehicle.

Power from the engine is transmitted via the gearbox, shafts and differentials to each wheel. Depending on the technology used, power may be fixed at a certain ratio between front and rear, or like BMW models, be able to be split by up to 100% to the axle with the most grip.

The first recognised 4x4 was built by Dutch brothers Jacobus and Hendrik-Jan Spijker in 1903. 

So that there’s more ground clearance – i.e. distance between the underside of the car and the ground. This is useful if the vehicle is likely to be driven over rough terrain.


On any slippery surface, the more traction or grip each wheel has the easier it is to start, steer and stop.

All BMW 4x4 models make excellent towing vehicles, although those with diesel engines will have more torque or pulling power. Also remember that the towing capacity of a vehicle is dependent on its weight.

The BMW X5 has the biggest boot, at 650 litres. With the seats down this increases to 1,870 litres.

The BMW X5 has a third row of seats as an optional extra.

running cost QUESTIONS.

The extra mechanical parts needed to transfer the drive to all four wheels adds weight, which in turn requires more fuel.

No. And with BMW Service Inclusive there need be no surprising costs.


The BMW X1 xDrive 18d will return figures of approximately 57.6 - 60.1mpg on the combined cycle, depending on the size of wheel fitted.

The BMW X1 starts at insurance group 22.

Road tax is now called Vehicle Emissions Duty (VED) and is based on the CO2 produced in grams per kilometre. The BMW 4x4 with the lowest CO2 emissions is the BMW X1 xDrive 18d with 124 -129 g/km. This puts it in band D, with an annual cost of £110*.

*Correct at 31/10/16, and assumes paying by lump sum rather than by direct debit.

BMW X1 models are available on the scheme.