BMW is mostly known for the rear-wheel-drive that many people love and specifically choose BMW vehicles for. Yet, BMW produces many all-wheel-drive SUVs and automobiles. If you’ve ever seen the “xDrive” on the back of a BMW, and you never knew what it meant. You do now. It means it’s an all-wheel-drive BMW.
Origins of the BMW all-wheel-drive
The first-ever BMW to make history by implementing the xDrive was the 1985 E30 325iX. On a general note, that is quite late to the party, since all-wheel-drive vehicles were generally used even pre World War II. On the other hand, regarding commercial vehicles, the need was not yet noticed by any large car manufacturer.
The xDrive marketing name for the all-wheel-drive was introduced by BMW in 2003. Before that most models carried an X in the back like the 325iX, signifying the four-wheel-drive.
Aside from the general rear-wheel-drive models that BMW produces, there are some BMW vehicles that are front-wheel drive exclusively like the X1, X2 and the M235i xDrive coupe. All of these come in xDrive versions as well.
BMW xDrive models and X SUVs
All BMW X models, aside from the X1, are all-wheel-drive. The BMW X1 is built on a front-wheel platform and has the option to be xDrive powered. The front-wheel-drive is also called the sDrive.
The X2 BMW is a subcompact luxury SUV which started being manufactured in 2017. It is exclusively available in all-wheel-drive. The X1 and the X2 are the smaller compact versions of city SUVs. Both of these vehicles are built on a BMW Series 1 platform.
The BMW X3 is a compact luxury crossover SUV which started production in 2003, and it is available in FR layout (front engine with a rear-wheel-drive – a classic BMW) and in xDrive (front-engine, with all-wheel-drive), or the so-called F4.
The 2.5 L xDrive25i and the 3.0 L xDrive30i are the gasoline xDrive engines available for the X3 compact SUV. Regarding the diesel xDrive engines, there are more to choose from.
- xDrive18d, 2009 – 2010
- xDrive20d, 2005 – 2007
- xDrive30d 2003 – 2010
- xDrive35d, 2007 – 2010
Of all these engines, the fastest is the xDrive35d going from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 6.4 seconds, which is a good time for a compact SUV.
The BMW X4 compact luxury SUV is based on a BMW Series 3 platform, just like the BMW X3. It is a 5-door coupe SUV that is available in a few engine options, all of which xDrive. There have been two generations of X4 SUVs, the first of which aired 2014, and the second 2018.
2014: First Generation X4 BMW xDrive engine options:
Diesel engine options:
2018: Second Generation X4 BMW xDrive engine options:
- xDrive M40i
Diesel engine options:
The BMW is the full-size luxury crossover SUV. It comes in four-wheel-drive as well as rear-wheel-drive layout options. The 5-door SUV started its production in early 1999 and continues to this day. There have been four generations of BMW X5 vehicles so far. The first generation of X5 BMWs did not include xDrive and offered the following engine options: 3.0i, 3.0d, 4.4i, 4.6is, 4.8is.
Second-generation X5 BMW
The second-generation BMW X5 from 2006 introduced xDrive models such as the xDrive30i and the xDrive48i. In 2009 the xDrive35d was also introduced.
Third-generation X5 BMW
Third generation X5 BMWs are available in xDrive50i, xDrive30d, xDrive40d, and xDrive35i, as well as a four-cylinder xDrive25d
Fourth-generation X5 BMW
Lastly, the ongoing generation of BMW X5, that started in 2019, currently offers only larger engine options, starting from 2.5 L with the xDrive25d, followed by xDrive30d, xDrive40d for diesel. The gasoline options are: xDrive40i, xDrive50i, and xDrive45e.
The BMW X6 is a mid-size luxury crossover SUV that started production in April 2008. it is available exclusively in four-wheel-drive options. There have currently been three generations of BMW X6, all of which exclusively offered xDrive packages, as well as M sport packages and an ActiveHybrid X6.
The X6 uses a base of BMW 5 Series, just like its predecessor, the BMW X5.
BMW X7 is the full-size luxury 5-door SUV and is the flagship of BMW regarding SUV vehicles and luxury. It gets all the innovations right after they are introduced in the BMW 8-Series and sent down the food-chain of BMW’s all the way from series 8 to series 1.
The BMW X7 is available in 8-speed automatic all-wheel-drive option only. The xDrive engines for the X7 start with the smallest, yet still whopping 3.0 L B58 l6 turbo. The other available engine options are 4.4 L N63 V8 twin-turbo, 3.0 L B57 l6 turbo and the 3.0 L B57 l6 quad-turbocharged engine.
How does BMW xDrive work?
BMW xDrive for rear-wheel drive and front-wheel drive BMWs works differently. On a general basis, the xDrive moves all four wheels at the same time, or when needed in order to achieve balance. The power between the wheels is distributed 60 per cent to the rear, and 40 per cent to the front wheels.
Is xDrive less fuel-efficient than rear-wheel-drive BMWs?
Yes, unfortunately, since xDrive moves all four wheels at the same time on most occasions, it adds weight and uses more fuel compared to the rear or front-wheel-drive models. On the other hand, it is better to use more fuel, yet reach your destination despite heavy snow. And this is what xDrive is all about.
What is the difference between the BMW xDrive and BMW sDrive SUV?
The “x” stands for 4-wheel-drive, whereas the “s” stands for front-wheel drive. S models are more reliable in a cold climate than rear-wheel-drive models but are still less reliable and safe than four-wheel-drive xDrive models. The xDrive brings in better traction and provides safety in a slippery condition. It also costs significantly more than the sDrive counterpart.