Full 2014 BMW X1 Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 BMW X1 receives minor updates to trim and equipment levels.
If you're looking for sporty performance, respectable utility and a luxurious vibe that's all wrapped up in a small package, the 2014 BMW X1 is a great place to start your search. The X1 was introduced to the United States last year and, despite a few key competitors, it remains a stand-out in the compact luxury crossover class.
The BMW X1 is as well-equipped and fun to drive as any other small BMW. It is essentially a smaller version of the X3, and the X1 uses the same engines as its big brother. Those engines include a strong yet efficient turbocharged four-cylinder or an even more powerful 300-horsepower turbocharged inline-6. The X1 is also 6.6 inches shorter in length and 5 inches shorter in height than the X3, and those dimensions help deliver sportiness and agility that many larger rivals can't provide.
Due to its petite dimensions, though, the X1 does have a few drawbacks. The most obvious of these is its lack of interior cargo space. With less than 15 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, long family vacations will pose a problem. And while small children will be OK in the back, there's really not enough headroom or legroom to comfortably accommodate adults or even infants in rear-facing car seats. Another consideration is the price of options on the 2014 BMW X1. Base prices for the X1 are attractively low, but the bottom line rises quickly as most upgrades are grouped in expensive packages. Granted, this is also the case on many other premium-brand crossovers, but it stands out on the X1, which can easily end up costing you as much as, or more than, competitors with more space and comparable equipment.
Among these roomier rivals are the Acura RDX, Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class. None of them match the X1's raw athleticism, but the Audi is still pretty sporty and the Acura offers V6 power for about the same price as a four-cylinder X1. Another option is the Infiniti QX50 (formerly known as the EX37), which is similar in size to the X1 (albeit with a bit more cargo space), though its gas mileage isn't as good. If you want something more stylish, you could also consider the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque or, on the bargain end of the spectrum, the Mini Cooper Countryman. Overall, though, we like the 2014 BMW X1 because it actually delivers on its promise of being small, and this translates to classic BMW levels of performance in a compact luxury crossover. For consumers who don't need a lot of space, the X1 is worth a test-drive.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 BMW X1 is offered in three trim levels: sDrive28i, xDrive28i and xDrive35i. The sDrive designation indicates rear-wheel drive, while xDrive models are all-wheel drive.
The sDrive28i comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, 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, 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, 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, many of which must be purchased in combination with each other.
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 and leather upholstery. The Cold Weather package includes heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. A Lighting package adds the adaptive xenon headlights to the 28i as well as automatic high beams and interior ambient lighting for all. Opt for the Technology package and your X1 will have an 8.8-inch display, a navigation system, Bluetooth audio connectivity, iPhone app integration (including Pandora and Stitcher) and BMW Remote Services (which allows both Apple and Android users to lock the car remotely and turn on the climate control, among various other tasks).
The Driver Assistance package (which requires the Technology package) adds a rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors. 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 enhancements such as an aero body kit; a choice of 18- or 19-inch wheels; a sport-tuned suspension; paddle shifters; a higher top speed limiter; and the multi-adjustable sport seats as well as cosmetic tweaks such as blackout window frames, unique door sills, unique red leather upholstery and wood/aluminum cabin accents.
Powertrains and Performance
The rear-drive X1 sDrive28i and all-wheel-drive xDrive28i are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produces 240 hp 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 23 mpg city/34 mpg highway and 27 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. In Edmunds testing, the X1 xDrive35i sprinted to 60 mph in a quick 5.8 seconds. The EPA estimates stand at 18/27/21, which is actually better than some less powerful rivals.
Every 2014 BMW X1 comes standard with antilock disc brakes (with automatic brake drying), brake standby, 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.
In Edmunds brake testing, the X1 stopped from 60 mph in 125 feet, which is similar to the larger and heavier X3. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the X1 received the best possible rating of "Good" in frontal offset, side impact and roof strength tests. It received the second-worst rating of "Marginal" in the Institute's new small overlap front crash test, but few vehicles have been subjected to this test, and a majority received a similar rating or worse.
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 might seem complicated before you acclimate yourself, but overall, it works quite well for controlling various audio, navigation and smartphone functions, thanks to its straightforward menu design and fast processing times.
The driving position is more SUV than sedan. You sit high and peer down the X1's sculpted hood. The steering wheel is chunky and contributes to the sensation that this is a driver's car rather than a grocery getter. We've found that the base seats in the sDrive28i provide poor lumbar support and lateral bolstering, so we recommend opting for the available sport seats, which solve both of these problems. The rear seat is a bit flat (to allow it to fold down somewhat flat), and as expected, legroom and headroom for taller adults is tight. Nor is the X1 a good choice for parents with very small children, as bulky rear-facing child safety seats will likely force you to move the front seats uncomfortably far forward.
With the rear seats up, cargo capacity rates 14.8 cubic feet. Fold them down and space opens up to 47.7 cubes. Almost any other small luxury crossover SUV offers more.
Despite our love for BMW's fantastic turbocharged six-cylinder, the base 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine is still well suited to the X1's nimble character. Although the four-cylinder doesn't provide the same brute strength or throaty soundtrack as the six, it is smooth and passing power is more than sufficient. It's also impressively fuel-efficient. You also get an auto stop-start function to help save gas, but it can be an annoyance in heavy traffic, because the engine doesn't restart as quickly or smoothly as we'd like when transitioning between the brake pedal and the gas (fortunately, you can manually disable this feature).
While the optional M Sport Line upgrades give the X1 sharp reflexes on twisty back roads, the standard suspension provides enough capability to keep most drivers happy. There's a fine balance of low-speed ride comfort and high-speed stability, and the X1's smaller size and lower stance makes it feel noticeably more agile and responsive than the X3. It never quite replicates the sedan experience you'd get in the BMW 3 Series (a notably tough act to follow), but for a crossover, the 2014 BMW X1 is undeniably impressive.