2018 BMW X1

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
May 24, 2018

Buying tip

Base versions of the front-drive X1 are the best bet with a stingy attitude toward add-ons. Skip the run-flats for lower ownership costs too, if you can.

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The 2018 BMW X1 is a compelling crossover pick for a budget BMW buyer who can’t do without a roundel.

The 2018 BMW X1 is a compact luxury crossover with a few distinctions. It’s the lowest-priced new car that BMW stocks on dealers’ lots, and it’s also the only one that’s available with front-wheel drive as standard.

We concede that the bottom line will matter more to buyers, which is how we arrive at our overall score of 6.3. If you can live without the BMW look and its roundel on the hood, the X1 is related to the Mini Countryman crossover, which we rate slightly higher thanks to an available manual transmission and slightly better front seats. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2018 BMW X1 is nearly identical to last year’s model, aside from some package reshuffling and a standard rearview camera.

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What’s available in the X1 is relatively impressive for $34,895 to start. BMW separates the X1 into two trims based solely on appearance: X1 xLine and X1 M Sport. All-wheel drive is available on both trim levels for $2,000 more. BMW offers add-on packages to both that don’t necessarily translate into good values—a la carte items can help keep costs low.

All X1s feature a turbo-4 and 8-speed automatic under their hoods that help power the small crossover up to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, which is a healthy clip among competitors. We like the 8-speed automatic for its fuel-saving behavior and adaptability when tipped into Sport mode or coerced by paddle shifters.

The X1 manages to be fairly thrifty, by luxury crossover standards. With front-wheel drive, the EPA rates the X1 at 26 mpg combined. Add all-wheel drive and that dips slightly to 25 mpg combined, but those ratings are contingent on pricier premium fuel.


2018 BMW X1


The 2018 BMW X1 is a handsome interpretation on the crossover craze, largely because it looks like a tall wagon.

The 2018 BMW X1 is related to the Mini Countryman, although the two couldn’t be more different in looks.

Despite being a tall-riding, front-drive wagon, the X1 is distinctly a BMW thanks to its kidney grilles, front bumpers, and clever shaping around the sides.

We give the X1 a point above average for steering clear of average crossover foibles, but stop short of doing the same inside. It earns a 6 out of 10 on our style-o-meter. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Perhaps what we like most about the X1 is that it reads more wagon in our eyes, with a graceful shape that prioritizes subtlety more than overt-macho shapes. Good sculpting along the sides helps tie the car to the rear end, which is finished in a more thoughtful way than other crossovers’ abrupt tailgates. Darker colors might help hide inexpensive cladding on the lower half of the X1, according to our eyes.

Inside, the X1 is a simple affair with a large screen placed atop the dash that dominates attention. Redundant buttons for climate control and radio controls are welcome. Richer hides and wood accents help class up what’s otherwise a fairly budget interior (it’s BMW’s lowest-priced new car, after all) but those are available for a premium price. 

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2018 BMW X1


The BMW X1 provides adequate power and an excellent transmission to crossover shoppers.

The 2018 BMW X1 has a single engine and transmission combination for buyers, with optional all-wheel drive available for cold-weather climes.

A turbo-4 is par for the course in its segment and BMW offers a fairly good interpretation. Its 2.0-liter turbo-4 is rated at 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It’s enough to make the X1 feel confident in passing and capable in mountain climates.

It’s the engine’s 8-speed automatic partner that we particularly like, however. We give it a point above average for its ability to quickly shift up and down, its steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, and its generally refined behavior. It earns a 6 out of 10 for performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Every X1 comes equipped with a rocker switch that can help shape the engine and transmission behavior, depending on circumstance. Dubbed “Driving Dynamic Control,” drivers can toggle between Eco Pro, Comfort, and Sport modes to customize response. Eco Pro does what it says and says what it does: it keeps the X1 fairly sedate—almost painfully so—to maximize fuel economy. Comfort is nearly the same, but Sport mode sharpens up transmission behavior that should be helpful for powering up mountain grades, or engine braking going down them.

The ride in the X1 is generally composed thanks to its un-crossover-like wagon shape. The X1 rides on 18-inch run-flat tires as standard, which generally makes it stiffer. Swapping out the run-flats in favor of traditional all-seasons is a no-cost option, and adding a small spare tire is $150. Bigger, 19-inch wheels are available at the expense of ride quality. Beauty is pain, right?

Underneath the X1 is a skeleton shared with the Mini Countryman and both are notably front-wheel drive in standard form. Curiously, the Mini is the only one available with a manual transmission, despite the “Ultimate Driving Machine” roundel affixed to the X1’s snout.

With optional all-wheel drive, the X1 can send all of its available power to the rear wheels—in limited bursts. The system can send power to wheels with better grip in a fraction of a second, which should help in slippery situations. The X1 has reasonable ground clearance too; no one will confuse it with a trail-ready off-roader, but every bit helps.

In our drives on gravel roads we found that the BMW X1 was a little eager to give up grip early, which could be harrowing for some drivers. Reasonable speeds should prevail in those circumstances, but it’s worth noting.

The X1 gets BMW’s electric-power steering system, which is well-weighted but lacks feedback that we’re accustomed to from the brand.

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2018 BMW X1

Comfort & Quality

Four adults will fit fine in the 2018 BMW X1, and rear passengers have the best seats in the house.

The 2018 BMW X1 may be attractive to entry-luxury buyers thanks to its relatively low price compared to the rest of the lineup. Its interior materials are generally on par with the rest of BMW’s offerings, but a smattering of low-cost surfaces rears its head and the base front seats aren’t particularly comfortable.

Starting from an average score, we give the BMW X1 points above average for good cargo capacity and rear-seat comfort, made better by generous openings for the rear door. We take one back for uncomfortable front seats, and land at a 6 out of 10 for comfort. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

About those front seats: We’ve found the flat bottoms and odd alignment (the driver's seat is slightly canted away from the wheel) to be somewhat frustrating. BMW offers a sport seat option to upgrade the seats, but we haven’t yet had the chance to sample those seats.

The dash is lower than in other BMW models, which is a boon to outward forward visibility.

In back, two adults will fit comfortably, three in a pinch or for short distances. Top-trimmed models can add an extra cost reclining rear seat that can slide fore and aft up to 5 inches that could make long-distances more comfortable.

Behind the rear seats, the X1 can swallow up to 27.1 cubic feet of gear, or 58.7 cubes with the seats folded down. That’s better space that some competitors, including the Audi Q3, but not as much as mainstream offerings from Toyota and Honda.

Thick rear roof pillars can make rear vision a challenge for some drivers. BMW makes a rearview camera standard this year and parking sensors are a relatively reasonable $800 option for frequent parallel parkers.

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2018 BMW X1


A newly standard rearview camera complements good, but not top crash test data on the 2018 BMW X1.

Federal and independent safety scores are mostly good for the X1, but small niggles keep the baby BMW's safety score just "meh." (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The IIHS gave the X1 top “Good” scores on all crash categories and its optional advanced safety equipment earned an “Advanced” rating. With a "Marginal" score for headlights, however, the X1 can't earn a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick + award.

BMW offers forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control for $1,700 on the X1 after buyers have opted for a $2,500 convenience package.

The NHTSA awarded the X1 five stars overall (out of five) with five stars for side impacts, and four stars for frontal collisions and rollover accidents.

Outside of optional packages, BMW makes standard on the X1 a full set of airbags for front and rear passengers, including side-impact airbags. Traction and stability control systems are standard, and a rearview camera is newly standard this year. Also available are front and rear parking sensors.


2018 BMW X1


BMW’s most-affordable model doesn’t stay that way for long, but the 2018 X1 includes good standard equipment.

This year’s BMW X1 is identical to last year’s version aside from some package reshuffling. That’s good news for shoppers who don’t need to consider the options; the BMW X1 is fairly well-equipped from the start.

Every X1 will come equipped with 18-inch wheels, power adjustable front seats, synthetic leather upholstery, a 6.5-inch infotainment screen, Bluetooth connectivity, leather-wrapped steering wheel, a newly standard rearview camera, and a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty.

The BMW X1 is the most affordable new model offered by the automaker, starting at $34,895 including destination. It’s at base that the X1 is a value—most optional extras balloon the bottom line without adding much. We give the X1 a point above average for a good base version and another for a sizable infotainment screen. It earns a 7 out of 10 for features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Few X1s will leave the factory without some options built-in, and some are better than others. From base, BMW offers a convenience package that includes a panoramic moonroof, keyless ignition, and interior lighting along with a handful of smaller features for $2,500. A $3,300 premium tier above that adds navigation, LED headlights, heated front seats and steering wheel, and a head-up display.

BMW offers a M Sport package that changes the appearance of the X1 and includes features from the convenience package. The premium options tier is available on M Sport-trimmed X1.

Value-focused shoppers should consider a la carte options outside of hefty packages to keep costs considerable.

A heated steering wheel and heated seats, which are popular in cold-weather states, are available for $550 as stand-alone options. Parking sensors, which help overcome the X1’s limited rearward visibility, are an $800 stand-alone option. Removing the X1’s rolling-stone run-flat tires are a no-cost option; might we suggest adding a helpful spare tire is $1,500.

Beyond those common-sense additions, BMW frustratingly walls the rest of its options behind those pricey packages. We don’t mind skipping a $300 option for Apple CarPlay compatibility, but we take exception to effectively making advanced safety features a $4,200 proposition, all told.  

All-wheel drive is available on the X1 for $2,000.

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2018 BMW X1

Fuel Economy

All models of the 2018 BMW X1 are rated at 25 mpg combined or better.

Compared to other luxury crossovers, the 2018 BMW X1 is fairly fuel efficient. Other crossovers may do better, but few of them come with the same number of amenities.

By the EPA’s numbers, the X1 manages 22 mpg city, 31 highway, 25 combined when equipped with all-wheel drive. That’s good enough for a 7 out of 10 on our ratings scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The EPA slightly rates front-drive X1 higher: 23/32/26 mpg. Premium gasoline is recommended for all X1 models.

Those combined figures give the BMW a nod over competitors such as the Audi Q3 and Acura RDX. If fuel-efficiency is a priority, the Mercedes-Benz GLA is rated slightly higher, as is the Buick Encore. Hybrids and plug-in hybrids such as the Lexus NX and Mini Cooper Countryman fare significantly better thanks to their battery packs.

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