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Is ‘Sporty SUV’ an Oxymoron? – Jaguar I-Pace/BMW X4

Sport-utility vehicles used to project a rugged vibe. Now, new models that put the ‘sport’ in ‘sport-utility’ have become a thing.

The Jaguar I-Pace is sexy and sporty. (Photo: © Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC)

One look at the Jaguar I-Pace’s sexy shape and you’ll understand that this is not your typical SUV.

That seductive styling is not the biggest surprise here, however. Raise the I-Pace’s hood and you’ll notice something equally remarkable: The engine is missing.

Instead of the familiar internal combustion power plant, this SUV relies solely on electrons for propulsion. Which, in a way, makes it even more desirable.

That’s because those electric motors that combine to give it all-wheel-drive capability also give it snappy acceleration. Where all gasoline-fueled powertrains take awhile to spool up to their full output, this 394-horsepower setup delivers all that oomph the moment you put your foot on the accelerator.

You can largely forget about the brake pedal, even in spirited driving. The regenerative braking system that helps recharge the battery pack provides enough drag in high-regeneration mode to make one-pedal motoring a reality. Simply lift your right foot off the accelerator and the I-Pace slows enough to take each corner with aplomb.

Add a roomy and posh interior and the Jaguar I-Pace amounts to a sexy sports car in SUV clothing.

Base Price: $69,500

MPG: N/A

Crash Test: N/A

The BMW X4 has performance galore. (Photo: © BMW of North America, LLC)

Grin-inducing performance is not a quality you typically expect in an SUV. The second-generation BMW X4 is a notable exception.

In fact, the compact X4 does much to change the sport-utility vehicle’s lumbering reputation. Handling is exemplary across the board. The entry-level version, known as the xDrive30i, gets a 248-horsepower four-cylinder engine that gives it all the acceleration you’re ever likely to want. Those who need more will find it in the 355-horsepower six cylinder in the M40i model.

Compared to the more conventional SUV profile of the BMW X3, the X4 features a sloping rear roofline that gives it a distinctive fastback look. The downside is limited rear-seat headroom and reduced cargo space.

The sophisticated interior also features top-notch materials. A host of cutting-edge tech is on offer here, including the available infotainment system that allows you to control many functions without ever touching a button or a knob via simple hand gestures. Neat.

Put it all together and the BMW X4 is one of the few SUVs that lives up to the “sport” part of its name.

Base Price: $50,450

MPG: 22 city, 29 highway

Crash Test: N/A

Looking for a new car ride? Check out more car reviews. AAA.com/TestDrive

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