- Size. This is exactly the kind of vehicle that a lot of people want right now. It’s a compact crossover. It looks like an SUV, but drives more like a car. It’s big enough to hold four, maybe five passengers. Plus it has a cargo compartment in the back where you can easily toss a Golden Retriever, an off-road stroller, or a couple of boxes of recycled “Manatee Weekly” magazines.
- Looks. It’s a good-looking vehicle. Looks very upscale and modern, but not controversial. Classy looking. The combination of size, styling, and BMW’s reputation makes us think they’re going to sell a gajillion of these.
- Cornering. Like most BMWs, the X1 holds the road. Cornering is good for a crossover on twisty roads, and at higher speed on highway curves. It provides a confident feeling ride.
- Transmission. The X1 features BMW’s excellent 8-speed automatic transmission that operates mostly unnoticeably.
- Interior room. Unlike other BMWs, this entry level crossover is based on a front-wheel-drive platform that it shares with Mini. That opens up a lot of room, especially up front, where driver and passenger have far more room than they have in rear-wheel-drive BMWs. Even the back seat is pretty comfortable for two.
- Interior looks. It’s got a classic BMW interior. The controls, switches, and materials are a good match for more expensive BMWs.
- Mileage. The X1 is rated at an impressive 22 city, 32 highway, and 26 overall. We got just about 24 in mostly city driving.
- Noise. The first thing we noticed about the X1 (after admiring the looks, and BMW-like interior) was the engine noise. It seems loud inside the cabin, and doesn’t sound like a luxury car engine. It’s a 2.0-liter four cylinder that you’ll also find in the Mini Countryman, where refinement expectations are a little lower. But it’s odd to hear an engine that sounds like something in an economy car in a BMW.
- More Noise. The second thing we noticed was the road noise. Once we got going, the road noise was pretty loud. If we were advising BMW, we’d put “lots more insulation” on the list for the next version of the X1.
- Ride. It’s fine, but in no way cushy. The ride leans towards stiff, which you really notice on less-than-perfect roads. Often, that’s the price you pay for a great-handling car. But the X1 is good handling, not great handling. Despite its solidity and cornering ability, it somehow doesn’t feel sporty. If you’re looking for “fun to drive,” or “very comfortable,” you might be a little disappointed. If you buy it for the styling, the packaging and the prestige, you’ll be fine.
- Price. BMW is known for its expensive options, and our test car, with a base price of $34,800, rolled out the door at $45,200. The add-ons included navigation, LED adaptive headlights, a heated steering wheel, a rear view camera (optional!), partial automatic braking, premium sound, and a bunch of other nice stuff. Still, that’s a lot for a crossover that doesn’t quite drive like a premium vehicle.
- Lack of Standard Safety Equipment. The rear view camera is optional, and requires you to buy a $1,000-plus Driver Assistance Package. The basic forward collision warning and automatic braking system require an additional $700 package plus the navigation system at $1,200. And if you want the full speed automatic braking option (which we strongly recommend), plop down another $1,000 on top of that. Strangely, no blind spot monitors are available, even while we’re seeing them on Nissans that cost half the price of the X1.