By Matt Degen
The 2016 X1 is BMW's smallest crossover SUV, or as the Germany luxury automaker calls them, SAV, for "Sports Activity Vehicle." Like its larger siblings the X3 and X5, this crossover SUV adeptly blends the versatility and higher ride height of an SUV with the fun driving dynamics of a BMW sports sedan. Now in its second generation, the 2016 BMW X1 loses some vigor but is roomier inside, beefier outside and now offers advanced safety features like automatic emergency braking. The 2016 BMW X1 lineup has been streamlined to offer just one engine – an efficient, turbocharged 4-cylinder. In addition to its spry manners, the X1 sets itself apart from rivals like the Audi Q3, Mercedes-Benz GLA and Lexus NX with standard all-wheel drive (AWD).
If you want a small, 2-row luxury SUV that offers zippy road manners, commendable cargo room and good fuel economy, the fully revamped BMW X1 checks all the right boxes. This 2nd-gen model also boasts a more rugged appearance than the previous model.
With rear-wheel-drive and 6-cylinder variants gone, the 2016 BMW X1's powertrain is now less powerful and one-size-fits-all: a 228-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder and all-wheel drive. And while $36,000 isn't much by BMW standards, the X1 has a higher starting price than its rivals.
Now in its second generation, the BMW X1 is fully redesigned for 2016. It is slightly larger on the outside, significantly roomier inside and now offers safety features like automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection. Rear-drive and 6-cylinder variants have been dropped in favor of one trim: the 4-cylinder, all-wheel-drive xDrive28i.
With the previous X1, you could choose between a quick SUV or a rocket. Now that the 300-horsepower 6-cylinder is gone, so is that latter choice. But the reality is,...
... most buyers didn't need all that oomph, nor did they want to pony up the extra money for it. If you still desire that, check out the X3. The 2016 X1 nevertheless packs a punch with its new, 228-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder. All U.S.-spec X1 models are all-wheel drive, but based on front-drive architecture. That being the case, we found the new X1 not as thrilling at its limits. Even so, the X1 is among the most fun SUVs you can buy in this price range. When we tested it deep in Mexico, the 2016 BMW X1 swiftly and quietly moved over asphalt, nimbly danced around rocks and gravel, and didn't even blush at mud and dirt in light off-roading conditions.
Every 2016 X1 comes with a power-operated tailgate, a feature you'll appreciate the longer you own the car. Also available is the Comfort Access hands-free option, which enables you to open the tailgate with the swipe of your leg – convenient when your hands are full.
MORE CARGO ROOM
For such a small crossover, the X1 offers a good amount of space. With the 40/20/40-split rear seats folded, there is 58.7 cubic feet of cargo room – up 11 cubic feet vs. the previous model. The X1 sneaks in extra room in cubbies like the one under the driver's seat.
The BMW X1 retains its 2-row, 5-passenger layout, but there is now more room for people and cargo. Rear-seat passengers gain 1.5 inches of legroom. For even more – up to 2.5 – we recommend spending the additional $300 for the sliding rear-seat option that also reclines. Up front, power seats are standard. This baby BMW's dash is sleek and angular. Materials have a premium look and feel, such as the soft-touch dash and wood accents. The standard SensaTec fake leather seating feels down-market, though. Dials and knobs for climate and audio are easy to reach but some are small.
A goal in the X1's 2nd-gen revamp was to inject more toughness into its design. In other words, make it look less like a tall wagon and more like a small SUV. BMW has largely succeeded. The new X1 has been heightened by 1.7 inches and ground clearance is also up slightly, both making the new X1 stand taller. Up front is BMW's familiar kidney grille, while standard LED daytime running lights and optional LED headlights make a strong visual statement and brightly guide your path. The M Sport Package adds further flair with an aerodynamic kit and high-gloss roof rails.
A base 2016 BMW X1 xDrive28i comes with all-wheel drive ("xDrive" in BMW jargon), 8-way-power front seats, automatic climate control, power tailgate, rain-sensing windshield wipers, push-button ignition, and 18-inch wheels with run-flat tires. The standard infotainment system includes a 6.5-inch screen, 7-speaker AM/FM/HD Radio/CD player with USB input and Bluetooth audio streaming/phone connectivity. The X1 also includes BMW Assist eCall emergency-request system with an SOS button, complimentary scheduled maintenance for four years/50,000 miles, and roadside assistance for four years/unlimited miles.
As with most BMWs, there are plenty of ways to upgrade the X1, and they can make the vehicle's base price climb quickly. Even most of the X1's exterior paint colors are extra money, unless you go with non-metallic black or white. You'll also pay extra for a rearview camera, a feature that is becoming standard on mainstream SUVs such as the Honda CR-V. Other notable extras include a higher-resolution 8.8-inch monitor, panoramic moonroof, navigation, leather interior, heated front seats, and 12-speaker harman/kardon audio system. New driver-assistance features include lane-departure warning, frontal-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and active cruise control.
The 2016 BMW X1 is powered by a new, 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 228 horsepower. Astute observers may note that power is actually down from the 240 figure made by the former 2.0-liter engine. BMW promises that its performance is the same, though, with the ability to hit the 0-60-mph benchmark in 6.3 seconds. A Sport mode livens throttle response and stiffens steering feel, while comfort and eco modes tone down settings. All X1 models are all-wheel drive and use an 8-speed Aisin automatic transmission. The new X1's fuel-economy ratings remain the same as those of the outgoing model. A start-stop system shuts off the engine at idle to safe fuel. If you find the restarts jarring, it can be defeated. Premium gasoline is recommended.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
228 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32 mpg
The 2016 BMW X1 has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $36,000. In reality, prices can easily go beyond that by thousands. Remember, most paint colors alone on a BMW require you to fork out a few hundred dollars. Loaded, an X1 can hit the mid-$40,000 range. The BMW X1's starting price is in line that of the Lexus NX and a few hundred to several thousand dollars more than other compact-luxury SUVs such as the Mercedes GLA, Lincoln MKC and Audi Q3. Note, though, that those rivals do not come with AWD as standard, and opting for it is an added cost. Do check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new BMW X1. As for its resale value, the last-generation X1 had good but not class-leading residuals, and we expect the same of this all-new model.