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BMW’s Active Tourer front-wheel drive minivan is a heresy twofer – and coming Statside in 2015

The BMW Active Tourer is coming to the United States 2015. And don’t let those trustworthy seeming Bavarians fool you: it’s a minivan.

Not only is it a minivan, it’s also the first front-wheel drive Bimmer, making it a heresy twofer. So why in god’s name is BMW unleashing a car that is the opposite of everything it has ever stood for? Well, partly to make money and partly because this car is actually going to be really good, I assume.

First: the money. When BMW released the 1-Series in the United States, 80 percent of the customers were new to the brand. Those are the sorts of numbers that make marketing and sales executives foam at the mouth and become inappropriately excited.

BMW told Automotive News at the LA Auto Show that it hopes to achieve some of the same effects with the Active Tourer. The entry-level crossover market BMW hopes to capture is a very lucrative one. And that brings us neatly to why the Active Tourer is probably going to be a very good vehicle.

As my editor Nick Jaynes recently pointed out, “Germans don’t make bad cars.” It is shocking how true this is. There are plenty of German cars I don’t like, or wouldn’t actually buy, but I can’t think of a genuinely bad German car in the last five years. So the baseline for the Active Tourer is high. 

On top of that, the Teutonic minivan will have some serious ecological and economic cred, as it will with the option of being a plug-in hybrid. As with just about all-modern Bimmers, it should also enjoy a lot of high-tech options and extremely solid initial quality. 

With front-wheel drive and either a three- or four-cylinder engine shared from the new Mini, don’t expect the Active Tourer to be very dynamic or interesting to drive. But then again that’s not the point. 

The Active Tourer is just another step in BMW’s long journey away from being purely a performance car manufacturer. That may be bad for Bimmer purists – or even just fans of performance in general – but its good for everyone else.

So grumble all you want about its new minivan. But BMW executives will be laughing all the way to the bank. 

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