2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i

We’ve known since 2009 that the little X1 was on its way here, having already been successful in other markets.  As the auto industry’s downsizing continues in ways that would have been unthinkable even 5 years ago, the X1 becomes the brand’s entry-level SUV, or sport activity vehicle using their jargon.  Fuel economy targets are driving this unprecedented arrival of all things small and this xDrive model achieves up to 33mpg highway.  How small are we talking?  Well, it’s larger than its slightly down-market rival the Buick Encore, but it’s about the same size as the VW Tiguan and Audi allroad…other German compact SUV-types that are really quite similar.

What makes the X1 so likeable is that it offers all of the BMW verve we expect, in a quasi SUV body with the bonus being excellent fuel economy.  While the majority of its competitors are playing with 5 and 6-speed transmissions, the X1 uses an 8-speed automatic with manual and sport modes leading to fuel economy of 26mpg combined…impressive considering its 240 horsepower output.  Other gas saving measures such as low rolling resistance tires, a sedative-inducing Eco Pro mode, Brake Energy Regeneration and BMW’s rough start-stop technology are all on board.  The powerplant in use here is the new 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder which develops 260 pound feet of torque and rushes the X1 to 60mph in a quick-hitting 6.3 seconds.  For weighing 3,726 pounds, the X1 feels remarkably agile and far sportier than any of its competitors.  Spirited driving shenanigans are on call and can be heightened by disabling traction control where the X1 will happily step-out with a stab at the throttle.  An available M Sport package takes that action to a higher level.  Though not nearly as unappealing as they are in hybrids, the regenerative brakes feel a little odd.  My tester is optionally equipped with Servotronic steering that adjusts effort based on vehicle speed and has been engineered with BMW’s DNA to be connected, precise and feel good in the hand…and that includes a cold, snowy day where the Cold Weather Package adds a heated wheel and heated front seats.  And in the snow, the all-wheel drive system sends power to the front wheels in variable fashion when these 18” Pirelli all-season run-flats slip.  Ground clearance of 7.6” is also noteworthy.  And the ride quality has been perfectly crafted to deliver very forgiving body motions over all types of surfaces while still invoking fun-to-drive handling.

The xLine trim on my tester skews towards an off-road look and it’s very attractive, particularly in this Midnight Blue Metallic paint.  The rich, masculine design of the interior also adds to the allure with this combo of Nevada Terra and Fineline Bay Matte Wood Trim.  Rear seat room has been calculated to deliver just enough leg room for a 6’ 1” guy’s knees to not touch the front seats…also set for the same body type.  However low seats and a high beltline make for unhappy kids who can’t see out the windows. Unique 40/20/40 split fold seats do so easily and offer a variety of cargo carrying options.  You get 25 cubic feet when the seats are up.  Fully loaded with over 6 different packages and 4 stand alone options, this xDrive28i packs in all of the usual luxury goodies including BMW apps and a panoramic moonroof, taking the price from its base of $33,395 to $45,745.  By expanding their X Line to 4, BMW has SAVs spanning a wide range of sizes, motors and price points.

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