Class: Premium Subcompact Crossover
Color: Utah Orange Metallic
Miles driven: 119
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||A|
|Power and Performance||B|
|Fit and Finish||A-|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||241-horsepower 2.0-liter|
|Engine Type||Turbocharged 4-cylinder|
Observed fuel economy: 21.2 mpg
Driving mix: 60% city, 40% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 25/34/28 (mpg city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Premium gas
Snow Performance: N/A
Base price: $36,600 (not including $995 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Premium Package ($4200), premium paint ($650), xLine exterior trim ($500), heated front seats and steering wheel ($550), remote engine start ($300), 19-inch “Y Spoke” allow wheels ($600), sport seats ($400)
Price as tested: $46,795
The great: Roomy and comfortable cabin, sporty character
The good: High-class interior, plenty of power, easy entry and exit
The not so good: Drivetrain can be balky at low speeds
If you’re in the new car-market, you know that car prices are still pretty high. You may also have noticed that it’s not so much the price on the window sticker that causes pause, it’s the amount of markup dealers are applying to that price. Things have improved dramatically over the past few months, and the percent of new-vehicles selling for over sticker price has fallen. This thanks to improving vehicle supplies. Still, getting an old-school deal on a new car is a rare occurrence.
I mention car prices in general terms, but I want to talk about how out-of-whack purchase prices—especially on popular-brand small crossovers—no longer make sense in relative terms. Consider this: While the average new vehicle now sells for just over $48,000, a well-equipped BMW X1 stickers for around $47,000. And the X1 is a pretty nice little ride. And if you’re on a waiting list to pay full sticker price for a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, maybe poke around and see what luxury small crossovers are selling for. Let’s talk about the X1…
Redesigned for the 2023 model year, the subcompact X1 premium crossover is based on BMW’s UKL2 architecture, which underpins such American-market subcompact models as the fastback X2 crossover and the 2-Series Gran Coupé. The Mini Countryman is also part of the family.
Unfortunate from a marketing perspective, UKL stands for Untere Klasse, which translates from German literally as “lower class.” We’d argue, however, that the X1, and all of its Untere Klasse cousins are actually delightful rides that are priced surprisingly affordably relative to BMW models further up the size scale.
For 2023 the X1 is offered in a single trim level, and only with AWD. Formally known as the X1 xDrive28i, the ’23 X1 is powered by BMW’s “TwinPower” 241-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine mated exclusively to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Unlike other BMW models, there is no sporty M-performance variant of the X1.
Shoppers looking for a little more zip in a small BMW crossover have been forced to step up to the rakish—and more-pricey—X2 crossover, which featured a fastback roofline and more-premium features. The X2 M35i boasted a 301-horsepower engine and appropriate chassis upgrades to match the additional power. Unfortunately, the X2 is on hiatus for 2023; a redesigned update is expected in BMW showrooms for 2024.
Though offered as a single model, the X1 can be owner customized in terms of exterior trim and equipment. Outside, customers can choose between Classic (standard), xLine ($500), and M Sport ($2300) motifs. In terms of equipment, BMW’s smallest crossover is offered with two packages: Convenience ($1950) and Premium ($4200).
Consumer Guide recently spent a week with a 2023 BMW X1 in extra-cost Utah Orange, xLine trim, and equipped with the Premium Package. All told, out test vehicle listed for $46,795.
The X1’s primary characteristic of note, other than its driver-friendly fun-to-drive character, is its exceptional roominess. Despite its parkable, small-car footprint, the X1 is deceptively roomy, featuring plenty of space for four adults, and plenty of cargo at the same time. Wide door openings mean getting in and out of the X1 is easy, and generous amounts of glass mean visibility is good in every direction.
The cabin itself is classy, sporty affair, featuring plenty of bright-accents and high-grade soft-touch materials. The red accents in our test car came off as especially natty.
In classic BMW fashion, the X1 does not come standard with many of the safety and convenience features car shoppers today are likely looking for. Instead, they come as part of the Convenience Package. Included in the group are park assist, and BMW’s Active Driver Assistance, which is a bundle of features including advanced adaptive cruise control. Also included are forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, low-speed automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, bind-spot warning, and rear Cross-traffic warning. The package also includes an upgrade to the excellent Harman/Kardon audio system.
On the road the X1 is generally a treat to drive. Power delivery can be a little uneven, with the vehicle occasionally surging, and then bogging, from a stop. The effect is not pronounced, but distinct enough to noted. Also, the fuel-saving stop/start system is generally smooth when the vehicle is stopped, however, the system can be slow to restart, which can be felt through the steering wheel as a brief resistance to turning inputs.
All that said, the X1 enjoys ample power for spirited driving, as well as effecting passing and merging. Additionally, unlike many small turbocharge engines these days, the X1’s powerplant sounds good going about its business.
Key to the X1’s character is its excellent ride and handling balance. BMW’s smallest crossover offers up excellent control in corners, meaningfully firm and communicative steering, and an impressively supple ride. Essentially, this very affordable BMW nearly as rewarding to drive as much more expensive models.
Our observed fuel economy was disappointing. We saw 21.2 mpg in a fairly even mix of city and highway driving. And, brace for bad news, the X1 is meant to be fed premium gasoline. We are prepared to admit that the X1 does invite spirited driving, and that our fuel economy might have affected, at least somewhat, by that generally playful spirit.
The days of the well-equipped sub $50,000 BMW are coming to a close. And, given what even what mainstream-brand cars cost these days, the X1 seems like something of a well-kept luxury secret. Yes, it’s a little smaller outside than a CR-V or RAV4, but it is very roomy inside. It’s also easier to park, more nicely finished inside, and more fun to drive. As an added bonus, your vehicle won’t look like every other crossover in the Target parking lot.
2023 BMW X1 xDrive28i Gallery
Click below for enlarged images