Test Drive: 2016 BMW X1 Review

2016 BMW x1

This week I am behind the wheel of the 2016 BMW X1.

It is important to note that BMW does not offer SUVs, which we all know stands for Sport Utility Vehicle. Instead, they offer SAVs, Sport Activity Vehicles, and the truth is, they are unique from most. The X1 is the smallest of the BMW lineup, and of course, it is the least expensive.

With that said, the X1 stays true to the basic roots of a Beemer. They are known for very nice interiors, but most of all, their handling. Nothing handles quite like a BMW.

The X1 competes with other luxury compact SUVs like the Mercedes GLA, the Audi Q3, the Lexus NX, and the Land Rover Evoque.

The X1 made its debut in the U.S. in 2013, and this 2016 is all-new and redesigned, which is really quick to completely re-do a vehicle that was selling well.

For 2016, all X1s are all-wheel drive, which BMW calls xDrive. So in normal driving, you are using front wheel drive and power is transferred to the rear wheels as needed. It makes for a great driving experience in good weather and will do an excellent job in bad weather too.

Also new for 2016 is the 2-liter 4–cylinder engine that has twin turbochargers and is connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission.  Together they put out 228-horses. There are no other engine or transmission options for the X1.  You can go from 0-to-60 in 6.3 seconds and top speed is 130 miles per hour.

There is no mistaking that the X1 is a BMW, it has a striking resemblance to its bigger brothers the X3 and X5. For 2016, the exterior was redesigned to be smaller on the outside by 2”, yet the inside seating and cargo area actually got larger.

As you sit behind the wheel, the cabin is comfortable with leather seats, easy to read gauges, and all soft materials wherever you touch. BMW is generous with their stitching and wood grain, and you get an easy to grip 3-spoke steering wheel with controls.

The X1 has a simplified version of the iDrive system, which is controlled from the center console and allows you to operate the sound system, Bluetooth, navigation system, and rearview camera. The X1 comes with a heads-up display on the windshield to display your speed and will give you directions from the navigation system.

Headroom for the front and back seat passengers is quite good, and I love the configuration of the back seat, which reclines and slides and folds down in a 40/20/40 configuration. That allows you to carry something long, like skis, and still have passenger capacity for four people. There is also a nice fold down console for back seat passengers.

The X1 comes nicely equipped, but there are a lot of options. In fact, my tester has roughly $11,000 in optional equipment.

For no charge, you get power seats, a power rear liftgate, Halogen headlights, and four years or 50,000 miles of free maintenance. You also get a premium Harmon Kardon sound system, the M Sport Suspension, heated steering wheel, security system, and 18” alloy wheels.

BMW does a lot of packaging of optional equipment.  This one has the Cold Weather package, which is basically heated seats. It has the Driver Assistance package, which is a rearview camera and parking assist with distance control.

The Premium package gives you keyless entry, panoramic sunroof, LED exterior lights, ambient lighting, and a few other small items.

The Technology Package gives you the navigation system, enhanced Bluetooth with BMW apps, and advanced real-time traffic info.

The X1 is very quiet inside and it has noticeably good visibility all the way around. One disappointment to me was the fact that you cannot get blind spot monitoring on this vehicle.

However, I was pleased to see the X1 has BMWs Driving Dynamics Control, which lets you choose from Eco, Comfort, and Sport settings. There is a distinct difference between the three settings. It has start/stop technology, but it can be deactivated. I don’t like to drive with it on, but I will say that the X1 has the least noticeable transition of on and off I have driven.

The BMW X1 is really a joy to drive, very comfortable, and for an SUV with all-wheel drive, gas mileage is good at 22 in town and 32 on the highway.

All the luxury compact SUVs that are well equipped run in the mid-$40,000 range.  This one has a sticker price of just over $46,500 so it’s right in line.

The X1 also carries an SULEV designation, which stands for Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle. That means it is 90% cleaner than the average 2016 model vehicle on the road, as defined by the EPA.

There is not much to complain about with the X1. I wish the tires were a little wider for even better handling, but besides that and the lack of blind spot monitoring, it’s quite enjoyable. 

In the red-hot luxury compact SUV segment, this one should be on your consideration list. For those who like to lease, BMW always offers great lease deals on their SUVs.

2016 BMW X1

  • What I liked most:  BMW handling and exceptional fuel economy. 
  • What I would change: Give me blind spot monitoring!
  • MSRP: Base price $34,800, as equipped $46,570.
  • Fuel Economy: 22 City/32 Highway, 26 Combined.
  • Fuel Tank: 16.1 gallons.
  • Dimensions: 174.8” long/71.7” wide/83.3” high.
  • Weight: 3660 Pounds.
  • Trailer Towing:  N/A
  • Miles When Tested: 2400 miles.
  • Final Assembly Point:  Regensburg, Germany
  • 2016 BMW X1 in a few words:  The ultimate small driving machine.
  • Warranty:  4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, with roadside assistance, AND all scheduled maintenance.
  • Manufacturers Website:  BMW

Photo Credit: BMW

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