BMW X1 Review
The new 2016 BMW X1 xDrive28i arrived just in time for a weekend trip to Ocean City, MD. What a great opportunity to road test the new X1 in a multitude of driving conditions – interstate, back country roads and city driving. I was planning to put the X1 through its paces. It didn’t disappoint.
I have driven a lot of SUVs and I am partial to a full sized SUV. I don’t need a Suburbanesque extra huge SUV that doesn’t fit in my garage or that you can’t drive in the city because it doesn’t fit in most parking spaces or garages. I don’t have six kids and four dogs (I have two kids; one dog). But I do like my SUVs big. It seems like most people do. Sport Utility Vehicle. That’s what SUV means. So why would you want a small BMW SUV? Where is the utility in that? That was sort of where I started with the BMW X1. It was a BMW so I expected awesome performance and amazing fit and finish. But it was small. So I started out thinking “What’s the point?”. I don’t like to be wrong. Who does? My wife never is. But I am. Sometimes. Well not very often. After driving the BMW X1 over 300 miles to and from Ocean City I was wrong. Very wrong.
After inputting our destination into the nav (using BMW’s somewhat clunky interface; no touch screen – sorry), my daughter and I were on our way to the beach. The first thing I noticed and instantly loved was the heads up display. It shows speed (all of them do) and also showed turn-by-turn directions from the nav, cruise control settings and other important messages (like low fuel!!!). Pretty cool. Pretty safe.
Visibility from the cockpit is excellent. Seating in the X1 is elevated which provides great visibility even though the vehicle doesn’t have a high stance like full-sized SUVs. Visibility out the rear of the vehicle is also pretty good – often I’ve found this to be limiting in small SUVs but combined with the excellent back up camera it wasn’t an issue. The roofline is a bit higher as well which provides for a very spacious interior. Add the enormous moon roof and the cockpit feels like a full-sized vehicle. The backseats fold down at the press of a button providing tons of storage space for weekend sports or antiquing (actually two buttons allowing for 60/40 versatility). The compact exterior dimensions certainly belie the spaciousness of this interior. I found myself taking second looks at the X1’s exterior every time I approached the car. How can it be that small on the outside and that big on the inside? This is not the interior of a small SUV!!! I almost expected 27 clowns to come filing out of the car. But its a BMW after all. So there weren’t any clowns.
Powered by a 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline 4-cyliner 16-valve engine matted to an 8 speed STEPTRONIC automatic transmission with sport, regular and eco mode, the xDrive28i X1 goes when you want it to and saves fuel and behaves efficiently when you don’t. I ran it in eco mode on the first leg of the trip and the computer told me I picked up an extra seven miles (out of 150). The eco monitor on the dash also tells you when you are driving in an eco unfriendly manner by showing energy usage (like by driving too fast). On the highway eco mode was fine and I felt very environmentally responsible. Acceleration was severally restricted however. Frustratingly so. But when cruising its not much of an issue. In the city it would drive most people nuts – it did me so I switched to sport mode and it transformed from an environmentally friendly weekend hauler to a very quick and nimble sports sedan– very fun to drive. I liked it. I liked it a lot!!!
So what didn’t I like? Not much. Little things that car guys like to complain about. The infotainment system isn’t a touch screen. Germans don’t like them – maybe because they don’t like smudgy fingerprints (I don’t like them either so I just clean my screen all the time – small price to pay for touchscreen convenience). I get that but I also think touchscreens are way easier to use then BMW’s clumsy control knob.
There weren’t any blind spot monitors on the X1 which I find pretty amazing for a car priced around $45,000 (and that includes $10,000 in options). I don’t see how you can’t find a way to include blind spot monitors in $10,000 worth of options. Which brings up the other thing I’m not a huge fan of. BMW advertises the X1 with a base price of $35,000, but to get it to a point where you would want to buy it you have to add $10,000 worth of options. Just include the options everyone wants and increase the base price. BMW isn’t fooling anyone. The phone tray in the armrest where you can lock in your phone and hook it up to the infotainment system is silly – does anyone use these? So really these are just little things to complain about. And I had to look pretty hard to find them.
At the end of the day the X1 might be a little small if you have six kids, two dogs and a ton of stuff (although if I had six kids I wouldn’t want them all in the car with me at the same time anyway). But if you want more space then a midsized sedan offers then this one is perfect for you. The new 2016 BMW X1 xDrive28i is really fun to drive with a huge interior and a small exterior – I would go so far as to say the perfectly sized small SUV.
Just as a side note, I drove a $30,000 compact four door sedan right after the X1. For the first day and half I was complaining to anyone who would listen. This interior is so cheap looking. Look how poor the fit and finish is. I even parked it for a day and drove my 7 year old minivan instead. I know there was a $15,000 price difference between the X1 and this car, but still there shouldn’t be that much of a difference. The difference should be more in performance and options. After a few more days of driving the sedan I realized that the fit and finish actually wasn’t that bad. It was actually a pretty decent car and not that bad to drive. What I realized was that spending a week and over 400 miles in the X1 that I had taken BMW’s incredible fit and finish for granted. Its easy to do.
Lastly… what does SULEV stand for? It’s an acronym the automotive industry is using for their Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicles.