Quick Summary This second-generation 2016 BMW X1 is new from bumper to bumper. Although slightly shorter than before, it's significantly taller, a little wider and considerably more spacious. It looks more like an SUV rather than a high-riding station wagon like the previous X1. Available in only one form, as a 228-horsepower gasoline xDrive28i with standard all-wheel drive, the latest X1 solidifies its spot as the entry-level crossover in the BMW lineup.
What Is It? The 2016 BMW X1 is a compact premium crossover that slots below the X3 in BMW's lineup. It offers only one engine: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated to produce 228 hp, coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive.
This is the second-generation X1, featuring a taller, more spacious cabin, higher seating, an improved interior finish and more equipment.
What Body Styles and Trim Levels Does It Come in? The X1 is available with only one five-door body style. Full model line specifications have yet to be confirmed, but there will be an optional M Sport trim, as well as premium and driver assistance packages.
Standard equipment includes power front seats with driver-seat memory, a 6.5-inch iDrive infotainment screen, dynamic cruise control, automatic wipers and headlights, keyless entry, heated mirrors, a four-way adjustable multifunction leather wheel, power tailgate, seven-speaker stereo, Driving Dynamic Control and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The Premium package includes a moonroof, hands-free tailgate operation, LED headlights and LED running lights, among other features.
How Does It Drive? A more commanding driving position that offers excellent visibility makes the X1 feel reassuring from behind the wheel. It's also exceptionally quiet, and delivers super-smooth gearshifts from its standard eight-speed automatic transmission.
We wish the ride was a bit more forgiving, as this X1 can be jittery over sharper bumps. The trade-off is an X1 that also feels very confident through curves. More enthusiastic drivers will find it responsive enough to provide an entertaining drive on twisting roads. Precise, low-effort steering helps, too (it's weightier in Sport mode, which some will prefer), although the sensation of its electrical power assistance occasionally feels slightly odd.
The xDrive28i's new four-cylinder engine is actually slightly less powerful than the motor in the previous X1, producing 228 hp rather than the previous 240 hp. Its 258 pound-feet of torque output is 2 lb-ft down as well, although it's produced 200 rpm earlier at 1,250 rpm rather than 1,450 rpm.
Despite this, the all-wheel-drive xDrive28i performs well. BMW says it will go from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds. The engine delivers its power smoothly and enthusiastically, a characteristic you'll appreciate with a fully loaded X1.
In typical driving, this BMW delivers above-average refinement that makes it an excellent highway machine. It's not designed for adventurous off-roading (its ground clearance is relatively limited), but as a comfortably commodious all-weather road vehicle, it does well.
How Does It Rate in Terms of Interior Comfort? The X1's new structure positions the engine sideways rather than longitudinally to open up more space inside the cabin. The overall body is also taller and wider than before. Combined, these changes make for an X1 that's more small SUV than small crossover. In fact, BMW now claims it has the biggest cabin in its class.
Rear-seat passengers benefit most from this, enjoying plenty of space in every direction, a supportive rear bench seat (for outboard occupants, at least) and the impression that the X1 provides more than acceptable accommodation for a long trip. All occupants sit higher, too, as the seats in the front are an inch higher than before, while the rear seats are more than 2.5 inches higher than before.
Cargo space has increased by about 2 cubic feet for a total of 58.7 cubic feet with the seats down. Those rear seats are split 40/20/40 for maximum flexibility and there is a power-folding option for those who want to drop them with the push of a button.
The standard interior finish has also improved, with an upgrade in materials quality. There's an air of luxury heightened by the elegantly expansive dashboard design and a high-sided center console area that splits the space between the driver and front passenger. There's nothing particularly fancy about it, but the overall look and feel is a step above the typical crossover.
What Are Its Closest Competitors? Audi's Q3 is the closest to the X1 in terms of size, price and mission. With a tight cabin and limited cargo space, the Q3 is now at a distinct advantage to the newly enlarged X1. However, the Q3 is well equipped for the price, quiet and has a well-finished interior.
The Mercedes-Benz GLA is another luxury-branded vehicle in this class. It offers sporty handling, a premium quality interior and plenty of safety features. The downside is poor refinement: The ride is too busy, and there's too much wind and road noise.
If you're willing to take a big step up in price, the Porsche Macan is another compact luxury SUV. For the extra money you get strong performance even in base form, a particularly entertaining drive, a quiet and comfortable ride and a quality interior finish.
Why Should You Consider This Car? You're looking for a small, nimble luxury-branded crossover with a sharply designed interior and plenty of available features. Or maybe you like the idea of a taller vehicle but prefer the feel of a small sedan from behind the wheel. Either way, the new X1 delivers on both counts in a way its predecessor did not.
Why Should You Think Twice About This Car? This X1 may be bigger than before, but it's still a very compact SUV. If you need substantial cargo space or real off-road capability, the X1 still falls short.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.