2021 BMW X1

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2021
The Car Connection
2021
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz Senior Editor
December 5, 2020

Buying tip

The X1 makes more sense the less you spend. Consider adding all-wheel drive and that’s about it to the options list.

features & specs

sDrive28i Sports Activity Vehicle
xDrive28i Sports Activity Vehicle
MPG
24 city / 33 hwy
MPG
23 city / 31 hwy
MSRP
$35,400
MSRP
$37,400

The 2021 BMW X1 is an appealing crossover with hatchback moves, but keep a lid on options for the better value.

What kind of vehicle is the 2021 BMW X1? What does it compare to?

The X1 is the littlest of SUVs in the BMW lineup, and it’s a close relative to the less practical but uniquely styled X2.

Every luxury automaker now builds a city-sized crossover SUV, so shop the competition including the Audi Q3, Jaguar E-Pace, Lexus UX, Mercedes-Benz GLA, and Volvo XC40 before committing to the X1. There’s not a bad choice here. 

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Is the 2021 BMW X1 a good car/SUV?

Though not perfect, the X1 delivers decent interior space and impressive acceleration paired with a reasonably low pricetag—if you resist the temptation of myriad expensive options. We rate the X1 at 6.2 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2021 BMW X1?

BMW added and subtracted paint colors this year but otherwise largely left the X1 alone after a modest update for 2020.

The X1 is the cheapest way into the BMW lineup at around $36,500 to start—or another $2,000 for all-wheel drive. You’ll find a familiar 2.0-liter turbo-4—the same engine drives cars as big as the company’s 5-Series. Here, the engine puts 228 horsepower to the front wheels—yes, the X1 is front-wheel drive, with available all-wheel drive—through an 8-speed automatic transmission. That powertrain delivers OK fuel economy for a small crossover—expect 26 to 27 mpg combined, using premium fuel. 

Even with front-wheel drive, the X1 is nimble, if not exactly sporty. Its ride is compliant as long as you skip the megabuck M Sport package or the optional 19-inch wheels. 

Interior room is good up front and reasonable for cargo, though second-row leg room is scant. The dash is loaded with tech, most of it user-friendly after a brief acclimation, and materials are par for a small crossover costing around $40,000 with typical options. 

Overall, the design isn’t as imaginative as Volvo’s XC40, though the conservative lines may appeal to a broader audience. 

The X1’s crash-test ratings have been good overall, but BMW forces buyers to spend nearly $6,000 in other options to unlock adaptive cruise control.

How much does the 2021 BMW X1 cost?

A base X1 runs $36,395, or $38,395 with all-wheel drive. BMW’s tiered options structure will force you into at least the $2,250 Convenience Package—moonroof, keyless ignition, and a few other niceties—to unlock most available options. If we’re spending your money, we’ll stay on the frugal side and skip those costly options to keep the price under $40,000. 

Where is the 2021 BMW X1 made?

In Germany. 

5

2021 BMW X1

Styling

The X1 is more like a tall minivan than it is a micro-SUV.

Is the 2021 BMW X1 a good-looking car?

The X1 has some crossover cues, but not many. Its design now seems stodgy against rivals that have been introduced more recently. We rate it at just 5 out of 10, a perfectly average score for a perfectly average design.

The X1 has a cleaner, simpler design than newer BMWs both inside and out, though, so it may appeal to a wider audience. The optional M Sport trim dresses the exterior with big intakes and color-matched trim, though at around $4,400, it ups the price by as much as 10 percent. 

Inside, the X1 has its controls arranged neatly in the center of the dash, where they’re easy to reach. The design itself is nothing special, though, even with optional bright leather upholstery and wood trim.

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6

2021 BMW X1

Performance

A zippy turbo-4 engine gives the X1 good performance.

Is the BMW X1 4WD?

BMW sells the X1 in either front-wheel-drive sDrive28i or all-wheel-drive xDrive28i forms. 

How fast is the BMW X1?

With 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque from the 2.0-liter turbo-4, the X1 is plenty quick. Expect 0-60 mph sprints in around 6.6 seconds with front-drive and 6.3 seconds with all-wheel drive, as well as good passing power thanks to the snappy 8-speed automatic transmission.

We rate the X1 at 6 out of 10 on account of its grunty engine. 

The X1 has a relatively stiff ride with the optional 19-inch wheels, though the base 18s are compliant enough. We recommend swapping the run-flat tires BMW makes standard for conventional tires that cost $150 and include a space-saver spare tire. The run-flats are a little too stiff for our taste.

The X1’s steering is firm and handling is good, but not entertaining. The $4,650 M Sport package has sharper moves, but not enough to justify that hefty price.

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2021 BMW X1

Comfort & Quality

The 2021 X1 has decent cargo space, but it’s just so-so for passengers.

The X1 stretches just 175.5 inches between its bumpers, making it easy to park in town or in a garage stuffed with life’s accoutrements. That means some compromises inside, which notch up a 6 out of 10 score based on an extra point for cargo space.

The front seats seem small and flat. They’re draped in synthetic leather in base trim or real leather for an extra $1,450—once you’ve selected additional options. Power adjustment is standard. Rear-seat riders have around 37 inches of leg room, which is just OK. The seat is not wide enough for three adults to sit abreast for more than a sprint to lunch.

Maximum cargo space is just under 59 cubic feet, which is good for a crossover SUV of this size. Standard roof rails up top can accommodate various attachments for bikes, skis, and cargo carriers, too.

Materials-wise, the X1 is clearly positioned at the bottom of the BMW heap. Assembly quality has been nice on our test cars, though plenty of brittle plastics will find their way under your fingers. 

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7

2021 BMW X1

Safety

The 2021 BMW X1 has done well in crash tests.

How safe is the BMW X1?

We rate the X1 at 7 out of 10 for its safety. It hasn’t quite earned top marks overall, but it’s a good choice. 

The IIHS says the X1 is “Good” in its barrage of tests, though the standard automatic emergency braking system wasn’t as effective here as it is in some rivals and larger BMWs. 

NHTSA officials give the X1 five stars overall. 

Lane-departure warnings and automatic high-beams are standard, while adaptive cruise control costs $1,000 but requires $2,200 in additional features to unlock.

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8

2021 BMW X1

Features

The X1 is reasonably well-equipped in base form, but watch those costly options.

Starting at around $36,500 including destination, the X1 is reasonably priced against its rivals and comes with power-adjustable front seats, automatic windshield wipers, and an 8.8-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay compatibility. A 4-year/50,000-mile warranty with included maintenance adds to the appeal and helps elevate the X1 to 8 out of 10. 

Which BMW X1 should I buy?

Our money would be on the base X1. Maybe toss in heated seats and all-wheel drive if you live where snow flurries don’t prompt a run on milk and eggs. Even then, you can keep the list price under $40,000. 

How much is a fully loaded 2021 BMW X1?

Not so recommended is ticking every option offered, which can elevate the X1 to nearly $50,000. 

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5

2021 BMW X1

Fuel Economy

The 2021 BMW X1 is reasonably miserly.

Is the 2021 BMW X1 good on gas?

The EPA says that the 2021 BMW X1 will sip fuel at a rate of 24 mpg city, 33 highway, 27 combined with front-wheel drive, or 23/31/26 mpg with optional all-wheel drive.

Those are competitive figures, even though the X1 uses costly premium fuel.

No X1 hybrid is offered to American buyers.

Review continues below
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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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$35,400
MSRP based on sDrive28i Sports Activity Vehicle
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6.2
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 5
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 6
Safety 7
Features 8
Fuel Economy 5
Compare the 2021 BMW X1 against the competition
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    6.5
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    6.8
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  • 2021 Volvo XC40

    7.0
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    6.4
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2021 BMW X1 Pricing Insights

  • 2021 BMW X1 available
  • Lease: From $389 for 36 months
  • Rebate: $2,000 APR Credit
  • Finance: From 0.9% APR for 60 months
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