First-Rate | 2016 BMW X1

April 2016 View more

NMAG0416_ForTheRoad_P90190694_highRes_the-new-bmw-x1-on-lo_800pxBMW’s X1 is a poster child for the quickly changing small-crossover market. Just three years ago, the original X1 hit showrooms with a six-cylinder engine, rear-wheel drive, and a fairly compact footprint. For 2016, the redesigned X1 features a new engine, new drivetrain, and slightly bigger dimensions—as well as a much more sharply drawn exterior. The changes turn this second-round X1 into a first-rate vehicle.

One Size Fits All

Ordering an X1 is blessedly simple: There’s only one engine, one transmission, and one drivetrain. So if you want an all-wheel-drive crossover with a turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission, this is the vehicle for you.

NMAG0416_ForTheRoad_P90190625_highRes_the-new-bmw-x1-on-lo_800pxDisappointed that you can’t get a six-cylinder engine? Don’t be. The X1’s small turbocharged engine is definitely among the best of the breed, with 228 horsepower and an impressive 258 pound-feet of torque that’s available at extremely low RPMs. The turbocharger is essentially transparent in its performance, with almost no lag between a jab at the accelerator and a thrust from the engine. While the engine lacks the aural excitement of BMW’s older V8s, this is a seriously quick crossover. BMW says the X1 will hit 60 miles per hour in a bit over six seconds.

It’s worth noting that engine technology has advanced more quickly than many buyers’ perceptions. A small four-cylinder engine in a BMW? Indeed, a 2.0-liter turbo has become the engine of the moment as luxury manufacturers try to balance performance and fuel economy. In the X1, the smaller engine means up to 32 miles per gallon on the highway.

At every speed, the X1’s automatic transmission dances with the engine shifting seamlessly up and down into the gear you need at the moment. The X1 also features a flawless stop-start system; the engine cuts out quickly at stop lights, then springs to life immediately and with no shuddering or shaking. Saving a bit of fuel isn’t nearly as annoying as in BMW’s with stop-start from just a few years ago.

Sensory Sensations

Along with outstanding handling and acceleration, this new X1 delivers delightful sensory experiences for drivers and passengers. The doors close with authoritative solidity and the seats are superbly comfortable. The driver has a commanding view of the road thanks to seats set higher for daily commuting, rather than low down for weekends at the race track. Back seat passengers have plenty of legroom thanks to the extra inches added during the X1’s remodeling. The second row of seats can even recline, just like on bigger SUV’s.

NMAG0416_ForTheRoad_P90190707_highRes_the-new-bmw-x1-on-lo_800pxInterior Controls

The X1’s well-designed controls are a welcome relief from the overly complex cockpits of many of today’s high-end vehicles. There are knobs for temperature and volume control, easy to press buttons for the seat warmers, and a row of real buttons for radio pre-sets. Collectively, these mean drivers can pay more attention to the road, rather than navigating through on-screen menus.

BMW has done great things with lights on the X1—from LED headlights that swivel toward corners as you turn the steering wheel (part of the premium package), to soft lights recessed throughout the cabin, pinpoint lights to identify the exterior door handles, and artistic tail lights.

The 2016 BMW X1 xDrive 28i starts at $34,800, though most buyers will check at least a few boxes on the options list. Heated front seats are $550. A package that includes a self-parking system, a crisp rear-view camera, and parking distance sensors adds $1,150. A range of active safety features, including adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capabilities, are also available.

Photo courtesy of ©2016 BMW of North America