My neighbor was chomping at the bit to check out the 2013 BMW X1 in my driveway. He has never owned a BMW but has been coveting them in their various forms for years. He was hoping that the 2013 X1 would finally be the model he could afford. He asked me to tell him all about the X1 and then stopped short and said, "Wait, just tell me the good parts."
That's not hard to do. The X1 is a fun, little crossover and the list of "good parts" is long: a pared down yet sophisticated interior, technology to beat the band and (most notably) performance chops to make other small crossovers shake in their boots. Typically, a BMW's whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
The 2013 X1 has the solid feel of a BMW, but I didn't want to tell my neighbor that I'm not sure all the "good parts" add up like they do in the other BMW models I've tested.
The X1 has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine or a turbo 3.0-liter six-cylinder. My test car, an X1 xDrive35i, had the larger engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. It's maneuverable because of its speed-sensitive power steering and adaptive transmission control. It also has Performance Control that compensates for the difference in turn radius between the outer wheels and inner wheels.
The 2013 X1 starts at $31,695, including an $895 destination charge. My test car, the top-of-the-line X1 xDrive 35i, had an as-tested price of $48,395.
The 2013 X1 is part of a new class of subcompact crossovers that include the Mini Cooper Countryman. In photos, it looks a lot bigger than it is, but trust me, it's small in person. Too small? No, but you'll need to be judicious with your space.
The cargo area is mostly functional, though large strollers will compete for space with any other items tucked back there. The rear seats are split 40/20/40, so you can stick longer items through the center section.
Before getting behind the wheel you have to get in, which is easy with the X1. There's a larger step-in height than with a 3 Series sedan, but little kids will adjust quickly to it. The doors are lightweight and easy to open and close. The liftgate is simple to open and close for the same reason — its lightweight and doesn't open too high as to untuck my shirt when reaching up to close it.
The X1 has a standard 240-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that's paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It gets an EPA-estimated 24/34 mpg city/highway. My test car's 300-hp, turbo 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine with a six-speed automatic transmission got 18/27 mpg. Both engines use premium unleaded gasoline.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groove-On
The X1's Coral Red leather interior contrasted nicely with the exterior's silver paint job. I was reminded every time I looked around it that the X1 was ready to have fun.
A heated steering wheel and heated front seats, both part of the Cold Weather Package ($550), reinforced that the X1 would not be daunted by inclement weather. A bazillion comfort and driving adjustments and features were at my fingertips, and they also reminded me that if the X1 were mine, I'd spend a good chunk of time at the front end of ownership just figuring it all out. Blinker options, driving modes, lighting options and so much more kept me in the driveway clicking around the standard iDrive system, which is fun if you're a techie and/or very patient. Otherwise, you'll just drive around knowing you're only using the X1 at partial capacity. Like me and my smartphone.
Moderately sized and moderately available cupholders remind me that the X1 is not supposed to take the place of your family room or kitchen sink. It has only one cupholder in the front seat and a cupholder that can be attached next to the gearshift when needed for the front passenger. When not in use, the passenger cupholder can be stowed in the center console in a third cupholder. BMW should just come out of the console with its cupholders. In addition to the scant cupholders is a center console that demands you carefully curate its contents, as does the glove box.
Rear passengers have two cupholders at their disposal, hidden in the fold-down armrest. There are netted pockets — my favorite kind of storage system — on the front row's seatbacks. The legroom for my kids, ages 8 and 10, was good, but it should be noted that the space was comfortable due to deep seats but not lots of legroom. The space felt open with a standard panoramic moonroof, which my kids loved.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
The 2013 X1's two sets of lower Latch anchors sit behind hinged plastic flaps in the seats and are easy to use. There's only room for two child-safety seats in the backseat. Rear-facing seats might not fit behind taller drivers or front passengers. With the driver's seat adjusted for my 5-foot-6 frame, the rear-facing car seat touched the driver's seatback.
The X1 has standard rear-wheel drive, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, an electronic stability system with anti-roll control, traction control, active front head restraints and six airbags, including side curtains for both rows. All-wheel drive, front and rear parking sensors and a backup camera are optional.
The X1 hasn't been crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Get more safety information about the 2013 BMW X1.