2018 BMW X1 xDrive28i Review

Driving enthusiasts need to haul stuff, too


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Great driving dynamics, solidly built inside and out, respectable room for passengers and cargo
Negatives: Styling is a little clumsy, goofy tall shift knob, some cheap interior materials, gets noisy at higher speeds
Bottom Line: The X1 might not be a sexy BMW sedan, nor is it even one of the better looking crossovers in their stable. But it's true to the spirit of BMW driving fun thanks to great steering, a willing engine, and chassis that keeps it planted. It also happens to have more space and comfort than its exterior would indicate. Too bad some of the interior suffers from low grade quality.
The X1 is the second smallest member of BMW's burgeoning crossover family (the X2 is actually smaller). The X1 is now in its 2nd generation, having transitioned from a rear-wheel drive 3-Series wagon platform to a front-wheel drive platform as of 2016. Style, power, and amenities have been upgraded since the sun set on the first gen vehicle, and it's paid off. We drove the all-wheel drive version of the X1 for a week to see if we'd like it as much as BMW's other great offerings. Read on for the full review.
 

Driving Experience

8.8

 

We weren't too happy when the X1 changed to FWD, but we were gravely mistaken (okay, we tested the AWD xDrive28i) since it's actually very entertaining to toss around. The turbo four is also quite good, despite the fact that it's not a sweet BMW inline-six.

Ride Quality: The ride is definitely on the firm side, but it's not uncomfortable at all. The X1 rides well over bumps, but you can feel the undulations.

Acceleration: The turbo four pulls hard and the throttle response is quick. The transmission helsp, too, with quick shifts. 0-60 comes in the mid-sixes.

Braking: The X1 has great brakes that bring it to a stop quickly. Pedal feel is excellent, as is progression.

Steering: There's actually quite a bit of effort in the steering, and it responds well. Feedback is a bit lackluster, though.

Handling: The X1 corners pretty flat, and there's minimal understeer. It feels balanced and firm in corners, as well.

Technology

8

 

Though BMW's iDrive is better than it's ever been, we do find it a bit frustrating at times. It looks great, though. The aesthetics are top notch, as is the resolution. Apple CarPlay, wireless charging and built-in Wi-Fi capability are excellent features, too.

Infotainment System: Our X1 came with the standard 6.5-inch screen versus the optional 8.8-inch version. It's clear and crisp, though not especially large. Menus are responsive, and the control knob operates extremely well. We just wish advancing and shuffling music using the system wasn't so frustrating.

Controls: The layout of the control is excellent. Climate, audio, and infotainment buttons are well-situated in the stack and center console, all within easy reach of the driver.

Styling

7.8

 

We're not huge fans of BMW crossover styling. The current X2, X3, and the X5 are probably the most attractive, and the X4 and X6 lag behind in terms of visual appeal due to their chopped look. The X1 falls somewhere in between. The interior is a bit low rent for a Bimmer, but it's still a nice cabin.

Front: BMW's classic kidney grilles are there, thankfully not oversized or weirdly shaped. We don't like the odd shape of the wraparound headlights, though.

Rear: The clean styling of the back end is well done, but even the numerous horizontal lines, it can't hide the fact that the X1 is thick. We do like the twin round tailpipes.

Profile: From the side view, the X1 looks its best. The sloping roofline and short overhangs keep it looking sporty.

Cabin: The contrasting white and black is a good look. It's true to BMW interior style right now, but some plastics are a bit cheap, and the tall shifter looks awkward.

Comfort

8.5

 

There's a lot to be said for a small crossover that's pretty good on interior space. BMW did a fine job of making it roomy in both rows.

Front Seats: Good cushioning, but we could use more bolstering. Too bad this doesn't get sport seats that BMW is known for.

Rear Seats: Passengers get a decent amount of space thanks to the 39.4 inches of headroom (more than a Mazda CX-5) and 37.0 inches of legroom, just a tad less than the current Audi Q5.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Road noise can be noticeable at highway speeds, but the X1 is well made and free of creaks and vibrations.

Visibility: Visibility is a bit compromised out the back due to thick pillars, but cameras do come in handy. It's easy to position the car with good front sightlines and a short, sloping hood.

Climate: The heated seats and steering wheel were great, but the climate system needs more power. It was hard to get good air movement from the small vents.

Safety

8

 

The X1 gets high marks from the feds and good scores from the IIHS. It's a safe automobile, but our tester did lack some advanced safety features like automatic emergency breaking and rear-cross traffic alert.

IIHS Rating: The X1 performed with excellence in crash tests, but it missed the top scores due to marginal headlights and only acceptable LATCH system ease of use.

NHTSA Rating: It obtained five stars from the federal government, the top score.

Standard Tech: copy text

Optional Tech: copy text

Storage/Cargo

8.8

 

Just because the X1 qualifies as compact SUV doesn't mean it's not ready to take on more than just people. It's deceptively big inside the cargo area, and it has some good cabin storage options, as well.

Storage Space: At the base of the center stack, there's a nice retractable door cubby for drink and for storage. It keeps stuff out of sight since the armrest compartment is small due to the wireless charger. There is a large binnacle under the armrest, as well, but it's not concealed.

Cargo Room: The X1 has a very usable 27.1 cubic feet behind the 2nd row and a surprisingly large 58.7 cubic feet with the seats folded flat, making it the largest in its class. The 40/20/40-split second row folds flat, and the load floor also happens to be the lowest in its class, making for easy cargo entry and removal.

Fuel Economy

7.4

 

The X1 isn't bad when it comes to gas mileage. 31 mpg on the highway is pretty good for a sporty crossover with all-wheel drive. We drove in Sport mode exclusively and pushed the car, hence our numbers that were lower than the city EPA rating.

Observed: 19.3 mpg

Distance Driven: 74 miles.

Audio

7

 

There's nothing special about our stock audio system. It's not bad, but it lacks the fullness and power that a premium system usually offers. For $875, you can upgrade and get the Harman Kardon premium system.



Final Thoughts

The X1 in front wheel drive is the least expensive BMW in the lineup, even less in price than the 2-Series coupe. It hits the sweet spot of the average new car price in America. And though it drives really well, has ample space, and has that all-important BMW badge, you can get more from a loaded Mazda CX-5 for thousands less. That being said, the X1 is a great compact crossover that has badge cred, room, and good technology. It's also a spirited driver that delivers more fun than the bigger X3 for less money.
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