What's New for 2013
The 2013 BMW X1 is an all-new compact crossover that slots under the X3 in BMW's model lineup.
Looking for a fun-to-drive small luxury crossover that offers respectable utility along with dimensions that are actually small? Then you need to put the 2013 BMW X1 on your test-drive list. Smaller than its X3 brother but still related to both the 1 Series and 3 Series, the X1 offers the impressive performance you'd rightly expect from such a pedigree. And the X1's notably leaner dimensions -- it's 6.5 inches shorter in length and nearly 5 inches shorter in height than an X3 -- give it a more agile demeanor than its larger and heavier crossover rivals.
Although new to the U.S. market this year, the BMW X1 has been on sale in Europe for more than three years. This entry-level model sports plenty of power, as buyers can choose between a 240-horsepower turbocharged inline-4 engine and a 300-hp turbocharged inline-6 -- the same engines BMW offers for the much heavier X3. Either way, the baby Bimmer manages to be both quick and fuel-efficient. With the four-cylinder engine in place, the X1 gets to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds and can deliver an EPA-calibrated 33 mpg. When the inline-6 is the engine of choice, 60 mph appears in 5.3 seconds and 24 mpg highway is the EPA number.
That's all pretty impressive, but the X1 does have a couple drawbacks. As you can likely deduce, the X1's smaller size translates to less interior room, particularly for cargo. It's fine as a people mover, but you might think twice if you're looking to transport big, bulky items. It's also worth noting that while the BMW X1 sports an attractive base price, the bottom line can quickly escalate, as most optional features are grouped into expensive option packages.
The BMW X1 falls between smaller, agile crossovers like the Mazda CX-5 and larger, more luxurious crossovers like the Audi Q5. You might consider the Acura RDX or Infiniti EX, both of which make driving and passenger comfort top priorities. For more overall practicality, the BMW X3 might be a stronger choice. Overall, we're impressed with the 2013 BMW X1 simply because it effectively combines a useful passenger package with the driving dynamics you expect from a BMW.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 BMW X1 is offered in three trim levels that correspond to engine choice and whether it is rear-wheel drive (sDrive) or all-wheel drive (xDrive). Thus there are the sDrive28i, xDrive28i and xDrive35i.
The sDrive28i comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, automatic headlights, foglamps, automatic wipers, cruise control, automatic climate control, eight-way manual front seats, leatherette premium vinyl upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, Bluetooth phone connectivity, the iDrive electronics interface and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, auxiliary audio input, HD radio and an iPod/USB audio interface. The xDrive28i adds all-wheel drive and hill descent control.
Besides its more powerful engine, the xDrive35i adds 18-inch wheels, adaptive bi-xenon headlights with washers, a panoramic sunroof and eight-way power front seats (with driver memory settings).
Although there are a handful of individual options, most available features are bundled into option packages. Furthermore, some packages require another to be purchased as well.
The Premium package adds the panoramic sunroof and power seats to the 28i as well as keyless ignition/entry, front-seat power lumbar support, auto-dimming mirrors, leather upholstery and a garage opener for all trims. The Cold Weather package includes heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and, for the 28i, headlight washers. A Lighting package adds the adaptive xenon headlights to the 28i as well as automatic high beams and interior ambient lighting for all. A navigation system and BMW's Assist Safety telematics system come with the Technology package. The Driver Assistance package includes front/rear park assist and a rearview camera.
The Ultimate package includes all the features of the Premium, Technology and Driver Assistance packages.
In addition to those packages there's a trio of "Design Lines." Two are mostly cosmetic ? the xLine (Y-spoke 18-inch wheels and dark copper body accents) and the Sport Line (double-spoke 18-inch wheels, black body trim and multi-adjustable sport seats). The M Sport Line features performance enhancements such as an aero body kit, double-spoke 18-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, paddle shifters, a higher top speed limit, multi-adjustable sport seats as well as cosmetic tweaks such as blackout window frames, unique door sills and wood/aluminum cabin accents.
Powertrains and Performance
The X1 sDrive (rear-wheel drive) 28i and xDrive (all-wheel drive) 28i are powered by a turbocharged 2.liter inline-4 that produces 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic is standard, as is a stop/start system that shuts off the engine when stopped to save fuel.
According to BMW, the X1 sDrive28i will go from zero to 60 mph in a swift 6.2 seconds, with the xDrive version just 0.1 second behind. EPA-estimated fuel economy is impressive at 24 mpg city/34 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined for the sDrive, and 22/33/26 for the xDrive.
The X1 xDrive35i gets a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 with 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, matched to a six-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is standard. BMW claims the X1 xDrive35i can sprint to 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds. The EPA estimates stand at 18/27/21, which is actually better than some less powerful rivals.
Every 2013 BMW X1 comes standard with antilock disc brakes (with automatic brake drying), front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, active front-seat head restraints and stability/traction control and (on xDrive versions) hill descent control. Optional equipment includes front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. Also available is the BMW Assist emergency communications system, which provides automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle recovery and on-demand roadside assistance.
Interior Design and Special Features
The X1's cabin is typical BMW, meaning clear gauges, sensible ergonomics and solid build and materials quality throughout. BMW's iDrive electronics interface works well for controlling various functions. Like all such systems, it can seem complicated before you acclimate yourself.
Up front, the well-shaped buckets provide proper support, and legroom is generous. The rear seat is a bit flat in comparison (to allow it to fold down somewhat flat), and as expected, legroom for taller adults is a bit tight back there. The driving position is more SUV than sedan. You sit high and peer down the sculptured hood. The wheel is chunky and the elegant dials are instantly familiar.
With the rear seats up, cargo capacity rates 14.8 cubic feet (about the same as a midsize sedan). Fold them down and space opens up to 47.7 cubes.
We've always been huge admirers of BMW's inline-6, but for once, it's not the best choice. The 2.0-liter turbo-4 feels like a perfect match for the X1's nimble character. Although the four isn't quite as smooth or melodious as the six, it could never be described as harsh. The extra gears of the eight-speed transmission make a positive difference in making the most of the small engine's power, and this model also benefits from a fuel-saving start/stop feature not seen in the xDrive35i.
Even without the optional M Sport suspension, the 2013 BMW X1 handles itself well on winding roads. There's a fine balance of low-speed ride comfort and high-speed stability. With its smaller dimensions and lower center of gravity, the X1 feels significantly more agile and responsive than the X3. It never quite replicates the sedan experience -- partly because the new 3 Series is so sublime -- but for a crossover, it's undeniably impressive.