New & Used BMW X1: In Depth
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The BMW X1 is the smallest crossover SUV in the German automaker's lineup.
Now in its second generation, the X1 was introduced in 2012 as a rear-wheel-drive-based luxury crossover. The new version introduced for the 2016 model year is based on a new architecture shared with BMW's MINI brand—it's essentially a front-drive platform, while the X1 offers all-wheel drive.
MORE: Read our 2016 BMW X1 review
Rivals for the X1 include the Buick Encore, the Audi Q3, Acura RDX and the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class.
The new BMW X1
With its recently redesigned X1, BMW finally has a compact SUV with more usable interior space and with a more efficient turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
The new X1 looks a bit more like a utility vehicle than the previous version. The new car is almost two inches taller, and an extra inch of width and two-inch-wider track give the X1 a more rugged stance.
Only one powertrain is offered in this launch year. It's a 228-horsepower 2.0-liter four, paired with an eight-speed automatic with paddle shift controls and three drive modes. BMW says it will accelerate to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, and will earn 32 mpg on the highway, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The latest X1 has gutsy power, quick steering, and agile handling. There's plenty of room for four adults, too, with ample headroom all around and good legroom, especially with an optional reclining/sliding rear seat that has five inches of travel. Cargo space is up now, too: at 27.1 cubic feet with the seats up, 58.7 cubic feet with the seats down, it's still a bit smaller than the Honda CR-V.
The feds haven't yet tested the X1, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the car "Good" ratings in all crashes except the notoriously hard small overlap frontal crash, where it earned a "Marginal" rating. Available safety technology includes a rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, and forward-collision warnings with automatic braking. Other features on the options list include leather, navigation, premium audio, and later in the year, an M Sport package later in the year with sport-tuned transmission and suspension, and sport seats.BMW X1 history
The X1 had been on sale for three years in other markets by the time it arrived in the U.S. late in 2012. Based on the previous-generation 3-Series wagon (of the time), the X1 borrowed the xDrive all-wheel-drive system from that car as well.
The first X1 bore a strong resemblance to the bigger X3, but the overall look was tauter and the vehicle was noticeably more compact. Inside, the front seats and the overall cockpit design were tailored to provide a good driving position.
The U.S. was the only market to get a six-cylinder in addition to the four-cylinder X1. Rear-wheel drive was standard on the four-cylinder model, while the six was all-wheel-drive only. All configurations used an eight-speed automatic transmission. The rear-drive sDrive28i and all-wheel-drive xDrive28i were propelled by a 240-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, while the pricier xDrive35i used a 300-hp, 3.0-liter turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine. BMW fitted the X1 with technology aimed at improving fuel economy—both an engine start-stop function and brake-energy regeneration.
There were very few changes to the X1 since its introduction. More of a special edition, the 2013 Powder Ride Edition offered integrated overhead ski storage and special exterior graphics, among other dress-ups.
While the larger X3 and X5 crossovers (as well as their X4 and X6 cousins) are built at the BMW plant in South Carolina, the X1 is imported from the company's Leipzig plant in Germany.