Is the 2014 BMW X1 big enough for what you have in mind?
It depends on the need. While we think that the X1 is a good, upscale replacement for a hatchback or small car, it's a poor match for families who are downsizing from larger crossovers--even BMW's own X3.
The X1 is sized more like the subcompact crossovers available today than the compacts that are familiar to more buyers. By rough comparison, it's more Escape, Countryman, and Evoque, than X3, GLK or Q5, with a suitably tall roofline that also makes it something of a last-generation BMW 3-Series wagon.
Inside, that comparison makes sense, because the X1's interior space measures up for most adults. Headroom is never really in question, and neither is elbow room. The center console isn't so wide that it claims too much space, but it does make solid contact with front-passenger legs on a regular basis.
It's from the center console back where you start noticing the X1's shorter cabin. Some difficult storage choices have obviously been made, as the USB port carves out a lump of its own from the bin that lies ahead of the shifter, leaving room for one cupholder behind the lever--which forces a second cupholder to hang precariously off the right side of the console. It's at times like these where you feel for a culture not raised on 64-ounce beverages--but front passengers who repeatedly bang their knees against the cupholder when getting in won't make these choices seem all that forgivable. Door pockets do help make up the difference for other items though.
The back seat does its best to overcome the short wheelbase span. It reclines for long-distance comfort and flips forward for cargo flexibility. Even when four adults are seated, there's enough legroom, but clearly not enough space for three across. For children, that's no problem.
Cargo is what's been compromised, clearly. With the fold-down options on the rear seatbacks, the cargo area is short and has less than 15 cubic feet with the rear seats up in place; although that expands to 47.7 cubic feet (preliminary specs). For perspective, that's far less cargo space than the Ford Escape, but more like a roomy hatchback.Two golf bags will fit in the space, however.
With a rack of switches, knobs, and pushbuttons, each with their own haptics and intents, the instrument panel can appear a bit cluttered. The joystick shifter needs its own walk-through, too, unless you equate the "park" button with the "fire" button on a video game controller. The volume knob on the radio's small, and almost out of reach.
Across either of these versions, you do hear the engines a fair amount--a coarse thrum with the four-cylinder engine, or more of a bellowing note with the six; in either case, it's not the sweet note that was produced by BMW's former naturally aspirated sixes.