One other blemish: the X1's stop-start system. While it smartly stops at stoplights and very quickly restarts when you release pressure on the brake, in Drive, it feels like its stops and starts can sometimes catch the engine out of step, leading to more of a stumble (as in BMW's other vehicles, you hear the starter motor cranking, too). If it gets on your nerves too much, as in other BMW products (here with a button on the center console instead of by the ignition switch) you can disable it.
As a side note, we briefly drove a 2013 BMW X1 xDrive35i, just a short time after the xDrive28i. With it you get 60 more horsepower and 40 more pound-feet of torque than the four, and it adds up to a vehicle that's muscle-car quick in straight-line acceleration, as well as quite the nimble handler. Really, it's more than anyone will need...but it's a luxury vehicle, right?
2013 BMW X1 Powder Ride Edition
2013 BMW X1 Powder Ride EditionEnlarge Photo
The big roof carrier you see on our test vehicle is part of the so-called Powder Ride Edition package ($1,650), which adds satin-aluminum roof rails, as well as a specially designed Thule roof storage box, adding about 16 cubic feet of extra weatherproof space. We also had the requisite $700 Cold Weather Package (heated steering wheel, heated front seats, and retractable headlight washers).
With the $6,650 Ultimate Package, too (panoramic moonroof, power front seats, front lumbar support, Comfort Access, voice-command navigation, real-time traffic, an iPod adapter, and BMW Assist), our X1 totaled a whopping $42,795. Yes, we felt sticker shock when first getting the vehicle, and even after adding up all that this vehicle could do.
We kept the carrier on top for most of the week that we had the X1, and while it wouldn't be fair to judge its highway mileage, we did notice that there was remarkably little wind noise or turbulence from up top. And during a week and about 140 miles with the X1—mostly at lower speeds, around town—we averaged more than 22 mpg.
By the end of week with the X1, we ended up loving it far more than we'd expected. Compared to nearly any other crossover this size, the X1 is definitely the better-driving on the road, with its precise steering and better body control.
Does the X1 provide a meaningful addition to the market, or does its message become muddled in the U.S. market? BMW has kind of backed itself into a corner with somewhat overlapping products—the X1, the X3, and the 3-Series Wagon—all so close in price. The four-cylinder version of the X3 starts just below $40k and the 3-Series Wagon starts only about $1,500 higher—both less than our well-optioned X1.
In the end, you can't get too hung up on the X1's sticker price; after all, those who want this kind of vehicle on a budget would merely get a Subaru XV Crosstrek, Mazda CX-5, or the like, at perhaps half the price. BMW is clearly going for those who want a small vehicle with cachet, not all-out value. Considering that, it's less a question of whether the X1 makes sense for its sticker price, and more pointedly a question of: Are you happier with all the luxury, packed into a neat little package?