The littlest BMW SUV is really good.

2016 BMW X1 xDrive28i Review

A sporty luxury CUV for a reasonable price

By: Wade Thiel

Web2Carz Senior Staff Writer

Published: May 13th, 2016

CUVs are the new darlings of the automotive world and are selling like hotcakes, especially in America. The BMW X1 is, as far as crossovers go, a delight to drive. It's a worthy top contender in a segment that is growing more and more crowded as time goes on.

With that being said, we have to lament the removal of RWD from the X1's equation and also note that the brightest thing about BMW is that they're on a never-ending path to building the ultimate driving machine. Or so we thought. The 2016 BMW X1 xDrive 28i is a wonderful little CUV, but it isn't the ultimate driving machine and isn't even a move towards that goal. The previous version was a better driver's vehicle, but this version is suited for the market as it stands today. BMW sells cars, and the company has to go with what's in demand. What's popular just happens to be front-wheel-drive-based crossover utility vehicles, and as far as those go, the 2016 X1 is a dominant force.

  • Driving Impressions

    Although the X1 isn't excessively exciting, it is endowed with the driving dynamics we've come to expect from BMW. Steering is precise, the suspension sporty and well-dampened. Driving over poorly kept roads you'll feel the bumps, but the car seems to always hug the road thanks to sport-tuned suspension and BMW's xDrive. Road undulations and cracks do little to disrupt the line you take through curves.

    The CUV accelerates quickly, though you can feel the twin-turbo four-cylinder working hard to make it happen. Driving the X1 isn't exactly the most exciting experience, but it's not meant to be. This is the Bimmer that's designed to be the ultimate small family CUV for a reasonable price. To that end, you have all the power you need.

    • Ride Quality: You'll feel the bumps, but at no time are they excessively jarring. The X1 walks a line between being a somewhat sporty little crossover and a comfortable cruiser.
    • Steering: Precise and confidence inspiring no matter your speed. Switching to sport mode tightens things up a bit, but not too much.
    • Acceleration: The twin-turbo four-cylinder is eager to shoot you from a low speed to a high speed in just a few seconds, and it sounds like it enjoys working hard.
    • Braking: Progressive braking with good pedal feel and little nose dive under hard stopping.
    • Handling: The AWD system performs well when you push the car, and there is little body roll when whipping the CUV through the turns.

  • Technology and Safety

    BMW's infotainment controller is one of the best in the business. You can easily control everything with your right hand while keeping your left on the wheel. It's easy to focus on the road while cycling through music or vehicle information screens. Our only gripe is that at times the system can seem a bit labyrinthine, especially when parked and the whole system is at your disposal (not all vehicle information is available while the vehicle is in motion for safety reasons).

    • Infotainment Screen Size/Quality: The 6.5-inch screen is easy to see, the resolution high and well-placed. There is an option to upgrade to an 8.8-inch screen, but we think it would be almost too big.
    • Bluetooth Phone Pairing: Phone pairing was easy, and we experience no issues reconnecting upon entry.
    • Voice/Sound Quality: Call quality was high, with clear voices on either end of the call. The audio system always provided crisp and clear sound no matter the volume or media.
    • Controls: The infotainment controller is superb. We don't understand why all vehicles don't have a similar one. BMW, Mazda, Audi and Mercedes-Benz are all doing similar things with the infotainment controls and we love it. Steering-wheel controls are also smartly laid out and easy to use.
    • Safety: The X1 comes equipped with standard head protection system in the front and rear, as well as driver and passenger front airbag supplemental restraint systems. Optional equipment includes a rearview camera, park distance control and parking assistant.

  • Exterior Design and Styling

    The X1 carries over many of the iconic BMW styling cues such as the dual kidney grille, the headlights, and overall shape of the front fascia. It sits tall on 18-inch wheels and is a little beefier than the previous X1. It now looks more like a small SUV instead of a tall-standing wagon. While we prefer the leaner look, nobody can say the X1 isn't a handsome vehicle. When you sit the CUV next to the rest of BMW's lineup, the X1 falls right in line beneath the X3 without any hesitation. It just looks like it belongs in the family.

    • Front: The dual Kidney grille and attractive LED daytime running lights help you identify the X1 as a BMW at first glance.
    • Rear: The rear is simple and uncluttered, with large taillights, badging and bumper being the few standout features.
    • Profile: In profile you can still see the wagon that this vehicle evolved from, but the 18-inch wheels and tall stance help remind you that this is a CUV.

  • Driver and Passenger Comfort

    The Interior of the X1 is spacious and well-appointed, with supportive seats that are almost too stiff. After a long drive, your hind parts need a break, but your back feels great. Ergonomically, the X1 is one of the better vehicles we've come across, the armrests are in the right place, the cabin controls are all where they should be, and we didn't feel like we had to reach too far for anything.

    • Front Seats: If the seat foam was a little more forgiving these would be great seats - 8-way power adjustable, lumbar support, heated.
    • Rear Seats: There's plenty of room in the rear seats for adults to sit comfortably. Legroom and hip room are plentiful, and the seats themselves feature the same supportive structure that the front ones do.
    • Visibility: Front visibility is good and seeing out the back isn't an issue thanks to large windows and smaller C-pillars.

  • Storage and Cargo Room

    The X1 might be the smallest in the BMW CUV/SUV lineup, but that doesn't mean it lacks cargo space or trunk space. Beneath the center armrest is a pocket for whatever you need to be able to quickly get to, and the cup holder area also features a small cubby that easily fits your phone, mp3 player or other handheld devices.

    While we like the center console, the adjustment of the center armrest is mildly awkward. If you adjust it too high, you have to click all the way through the settings to get it back where you want it. This isn't an issue if you leave it in one spot. If, however, you store items beneath the armrest and lift it up to reach them, you have to click through the height settings to get it back where you want it.

    • Storage: Well-placed storage with decent amounts of space, including long door pockets and a dual-compartment armrest, despite its lack of depth for larger items.
    • Trunk/Cargo Room: Spacious trunk area 27.1 cu ft. of space with the seats up and 58.7 cu. ft. with the second row folded flat. Plenty of space for quick jaunts and even road trips.

  • The Gateway to a BMW lifestyle

    The BMW X1 will appeal to a lot of people because of its relatively low price, sporty handling and good looks. We're sad to see RWD go, but the AWD system is a smart option for many people who live where snow flies. Overall, the X1 is just a really well-rounded vehicle, that won't put you to sleep but can still help you get done what you need to on a daily basis.

    Because of the X1's characteristics, it's a smart choice for small families and BMW is likely to attract many new customers. We see the X1 as the gateway to the brand. It's good all around, but not as wonderful to drive as many of BMW's other offerings. If BMW pulls in some new customers with the CUV, we wouldn't be surprised to see those shoppers transition to something more sporty and expensive sometime down the road.

  • Price & Specifications

    Engine: 2.0-liter twin-turbo four-cylinder

    Transmission: 8-speed automatic

    Drivetrain/Layout: Front engine, all-wheel drive

    Power Output: 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 22 city / 32 highway

    Base Price: $34,800

    As Tested: $43,620 (incl. $995 destination fee)

    Standard Features:Alpine White paint; Canberra Beige SensaTec interior; Larger-capacity Fuel Tank; Performance Control; STEPTRONIC Automatic Trans.; Heated Steering Wheel;Sport Leather Steering Wheel; Run-Flat Tires; 18-inch Alloy Spoke Wheels; Roof Rails; Matte Chrome Exterior Trim; Alarm System; Power Liftgate; Power Front Seats; Center Armrest; Storage Package; Automatic Climate Control; BMW Online and BMW Apps; Advanced RTTI; Remote Services; M Sport Suspension; Anthracite Headliner; All-season Tires; Driving Dynamics Control with Eco Pro, Comfort and Manual Shift Modes; xDrive All-wheel Drive; dynamic Stability Control, including Brake Drying, Brake Stand-by, Start Off Assistant and Brake Fade Compensation, 4-wheel ventilated anti-lock disc brakes with Dynamic Brake Control; Privacy Glass; Halogen High and Low Beam Headlights; Matte Chrome Exterior Trim; 8-way Power Adjustable Seat; Automatic Climate Control; Rain-sensing Windshield Wipers with Adjustable Speed and Automatic Headlight Control; Power Tailgate; 3-spoke Leather-wrapped Steering Wheel; iDrive System with On-board Computer; 6.5-inch Display; Controller and 8 Programmable Buttons; AM/FM/MP3 Player Hi-Fi Sound System with HD Radio; Head Protection System (HPS), Front and Rear; Driver's and Passenger Front Airbag Supplemental Restraint System

    Options on our test vehicle: Cold Weather Package: Heated Front Seats; Driver Assistance Package: Rear View Camera, Park Distance Control, Parking Assistant; Premium Package: Power-folding Mirrors, Universal Garage Door Opener, Comfort Access Keyless Entry, Panoramic Moonroof, Auto Dimming Mirrors, Auto Dimming Rearview Mirror, Lumbar Support, Ambient Lighting, LED Headlights w/ Cornering, Satellite Radio w/1 Year Sub.; Space-Saver Option; Slide and Reline Rear Seat; Fine Wood 'Fineline' Trim; Navigation Business; Harman/Kardon Premium System

    Find Local Discounts on the BMW X1

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• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2016 BMW X1, click here: 2016 BMW X1.