With most of today's so-called compact SUVs bulking up to the size of yesterday's midsizers, finding a truly small crossover SUV can be a bit of a challenge, especially in the premium brand arena. But now that BMW has brought the X1 to the United States, shoppers have a truly compact BMW crossover to consider.
The BMW X1 may be lean, but its fun-to-drive personality is certainly plus-sized. Nearly 7 inches shorter in length and 5 inches shorter in height than its "compact" X3 sibling, the X1 also weighs about 400 pounds less and sports the same muscular engine choices. This imbues it with nimble handling and quick acceleration. The main downsides are that backseat and cargo space aren't abundant, and the price can escalate quickly. But overall the BMW X1 is a great alternative for sport sedan enthusiasts who'd like more utility -- or crossover fans who disagree that bigger is better.
Current BMW X1
The BMW X1 is offered in sDrive28i, xDrive28i and xDrive35i trim levels, where "sDrive" means rear-wheel drive and "xDrive" means all-wheel drive.
The 28i versions come with a turbocharged 2.0 liter inline-4 that generates 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The AWD-only 35i packs a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 with 300 hp and 300 lb-ft. An eight-speed automatic is standard for the four-cylinder, while the 35i's six-cylinder is matched to a six-speed automatic.
Standard feature highlights of the 28i trims include 17-inch wheels, automatic climate control, leatherette upholstery, Bluetooth phone connectivity, the iDrive electronics interface and an eight-speaker sound system with an iPod/USB interface. The xDrive35i adds 18-inch wheels, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, a panoramic sunroof and eight-way power front seats.
Desirable options are generally bundled in packages and include keyless ignition and entry, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system with a larger display and a rearview camera. There's also a trio of "Design Lines" that add various cosmetic and performance-enhancing features, notably the M Sport with its aero body kit, sport-tuned suspension and highly supportive sport seats.
In reviews, our editors have found the turbocharged four-cylinder and eight-speed automatic to be a perfect match for the X1's nimble character. There's always plenty of power on tap, and highway fuel economy is well over 30 mpg according to the EPA. The six-cylinder model is swifter, of course, but it's probably not worth the efficiency trade-off for most people.
Even without the optional M Sport suspension, the X1 feels significantly more agile and responsive than BMW's X3, thanks to its smaller dimensions and lower center of gravity. Despite this sporty demeanor, the X1 also provides a fairly compliant ride that should please most shoppers in this segment. Rear passenger space is limited, however, and the baby Bimmer offers about 25 percent less cargo capacity than the X3. If you can live with that, the X1 is otherwise a pretty compelling overall package.
Used BMW X1 Models
The X1 debuted for the 2013 model year and has received only minor feature updates since.
Read the most recent 2016 BMW X1 review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used BMW X1 page.