New & Used BMW X1: In Depth
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The BMW X1 is the least expensive way to get into a BMW crossover. It competes with the Buick Encore and MINI Countryman.
While it only arrived in the States late in 2012, the BMW X1 had been sold in Europe for three years already. The X1 has its roots in the unerpinnings of the last-generation BMW 3-Series wagon, including its xDrive system. The U.S. version differs from the models sold there by offering not only a standard four-cylinder engine but also a more powerful six-cylinder as well. Both engines are mated only to the company's new eight-speed automatic transmission, with rear-wheel drive as standard and all-wheel drive optional with either engine.
There's a lot family resemblance to the larger X3 in the lines of the X1, but they're tauter and the entire vehicle is more compact. Inside, as in any other BMW, the front seats and the overall cockpit are all about the driving position. Behind the wheel, the driver is faced with a tiered, sculpted dash containing dual instrument dials and an information screen in front of the left seat. Most models have a display screen mounted in the center of the dash as well; audio and climate controls are located in the center stack, while the iDrive controller and a small gear selector--more like a joystick than the usual large lever--are on the console.
BMW has fitted the X1 with technology aimed at improving fuel economy: both a start-stop engine function and brake energy regeneration. The start-stop system shuts off the engine when stopped in traffic or idling, restarting immediately when the driver begins to lift a foot off the brake. Brake energy regeneration stores energy that would otherwise be wasted as heat in the brakes for use by the electrical system, power accessories and other functions.
The X1 suffers from the same cumbersome naming for its trim lines that's spread across the BMW range in recent years. The xDrive28i is propelled by a 240-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, while the pricier and more powerful xDrive35i uses a 300-hp, 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine. That latter model is unique to the U.S.--nowhere else does the X1 have the option of a six-cylinder engine--and it comes standard with all-wheel drive.
The next generation of the X1, which is expected around 2015, will most likely share a front-wheel-drive platform with the next-generation MINI Countryman. All-wheel drive will again be an option, but if you want a small BMW crossover that defaults to rear-wheel drive, this is the one to get.
While the larger X3 and X5 crossovers are built at the BMW plant in South Carolina, the X1 is imported from the Leipzig plant in Germany. Prices range from $31,545 to $39,345.