It’s not often the baby of the family gets the credit it deserves. But in this case, it should. Because the truth about the BMW X1 is that for being the runt of the BMW X lineup, it does a lot of things very well. Something I discovered during my recent stint behind the wheel of the 2018 BMW X1 xDrive28i. It’s fun to drive with BMW’s great handling. It also sports good looks and a quality interior that’s just nice to step into. And last but not least it’s roomy (aka practical) without being downright boring.
Driving Dynamics and Performance
The X1’s driving dynamics are where it shines the most so I’ll start there. There are definitely moments you just know it’s secretly yearning to be a four-door sports car. The X1 is engaging to drive thanks to BMW’s famous fun-to-drive handling dynamics. Its 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder with 228-horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque is surprisingly energetic and mated to an 8-speed automatic. I drove it mostly in Sport mode but you can also opt for Normal and Eco Pro. Given BMW is going for a sporty ride, you can expect BMW’s traditionally firm suspension. So if you crave a softer ride, this may not be the one for you. The xDrive28i comes with all-wheel-drive, confident braking, and run-flat all season tires. The X1 didn’t necessarily strike me as being super quiet but road noise is in line with the segment.
Redesigned in 2016, the 2018 model doesn’t come with a host of changes. But thank you BMW for making a rear backup camera now standard. My 2018 BMW X1 xDrive28i AWD model stood out in Orange Sunset Metallic ($550) with 18-inch alloy wheels, satin aluminum roof rails, and matte chrome trim. LED cornering headlights are a standalone $950 option.
The cabin is upscale with quality materials. My test vehicle sported the Canberra Beige Dakota Leather interior ($1,450) with its high gloss black trim with Pearl Gloss Chrome highlights.
For being the smallest SUV in BMW’s lineup, the X1 is very roomy inside with generous headroom and legroom. Still, while the X1 is classified as a 5-passenger SUV, I’d caution it fits 4 adults comfortably. There’s a middle space for a third person in the 2nd-row, but I’d say it’s more for kids. To comfortably fit three full-size adults, I’d go for something bigger. The X1 comes with 40/20/40-split rear seats. For $300 you can add sliding and reclining rear seats. Cargo space is great and there’s a standard power tailgate.
Designers executed the cabin well and the center stack jets out making it easy to reach. What did surprise me was the relatively small digital driver info display beneath the large old school tachometer area. BMW makes a great gear shifter and the electric parking brake is within easy reach on the center console.
When it comes to comfort, that’s a tough one for me. Unfortunately, I can’t give the rather flat leather front seats my thumbs up. They weren’t extremely supportive and my back never found its sweet spot even with the lumbar support. Of course, seat comfort is a very individual thing for every driver.
Standard cabin features on my test vehicle include a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, rear-view camera, dynamic cruise control, dual-zone climate, rain-sensing wipers and a power tailgate. My tester’s $2,500 Convenience Package adds a panoramic sunroof, power-folding mirrors, comfort access keyless entry, lumbar support, ambient lighting and SiriusXM. Its heated front seats and steering wheel are a standalone $550 option. The X1 comes with a standard 7-speaker audio system. A Harman Kardon surround sound system upgrade is $875.
iDrive and Technology
BMW is really doing something right with its iDrive infotainment system. It’s one of the easiest, no-brainer systems I’ve come across and it allows you to select driver profiles. My test model had a 6.5-inch screen jetting out of the center dash area. You can upgrade to an 8.8-inch.
The graphics are great and the system is user-friendly be it the touchscreen or knob controller. And let me just say the X1’s voice command system is fantastic. I’m floored at how well it works. What also floors me is that you have to pay $300 for Apple CarPlay compatibility. The Navigation Business feature is another $950. You’ll also pay extra for wireless charging and built-in Wi-Fi capability. But you do get one USB port.
What To Know About Safety Features
If there is one area the X1 disappoints it’s the lack of standard safety features. You have to spring for the $700 Driving Assistance Package for Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning and Frontal Collision Warning with City Collision Mitigation and Pedestrian Detection. It also includes automatic high beams and speed limit info on the instrument cluster display.
What You’ll Pay
While the X1 starts in the mid-$30s, packages and stand-alone options on my test vehicle sent the MSRP past $44,000. And really, who buys a BMW for the base model. So if the X1 is on your short-list, make sure you have realistic pricing expectations and I’d seriously consider the Driving Assistance Package.