In the highly competitive and fast moving crossover SUV market, we’ve seen quite a bit of mission creep, where vehicles introduced in one size category being to grow over time, creating a gap below filled in by a new entry. Such is the case in the BMW lineup where the X3 has gotten bigger and more powerful and left a gap below it filled by the smaller X1. That previous version was based on the rear-drive architecture of the 1 Series coupe and sedan, which meant it had a longitudinal-mounted engine and rear-drive when not fitted with BMW’s optional xDrive all-wheel drive system.

Enter the 2016 BMW X1, which is the second take on this entry level crossover for the German automaker. Looking less like a wagon crossover than the vehicle it replaces, the new X1 has the same bold SUV-inspired character as the X3 and X5 and now fits neatly into the BMW design philosophy of offering three different size cuts of the same sausage—much as it does on the car side.

Also: See the New and Redesigned Cars of 2016   

Efficient packaging

While the new X1 looks similar to the larger X3, how it gets there is another matter, as it shares a transverse front-engine package with the new Mini. Normally that would indicate a front-wheel drive base configuration, but in the case of the new X1, all models come standard with all-wheel drive. And the more efficient packaging of the transverse engine layout also allows the newest X1 to be shorter yet offer a much roomier cabin that nearly rivals the X3 in scale.

In fact, the mechanical package aside, the X1’s interior has the same layout, controls and quality feel as the next model up the line, which is a good thing considering that as equipped, our xDrive28i model cost $42,595—quite a bit for an “entry level” model. Starting from a base price of $34,800, this X1 featured a $3,250 premium package that included keyless entry, a panoramic moonroof, auto dimming mirrors, LED headlamps with adaptive-cornering feature and power folding mirrors. Another $1,150 went towards a driver assistance package that includes a rearview camera, park distance control and parking assistant. Add in a cold weather package for $550, $300 to get the rear bench to slide and recline, $1,200 for navigation, $350 for “Fine-wood ‘Fineline’ trim” and $995 destination and you’ve arrived at a pretty steep sticker.

That said, for the money, the X1 delivers a smooth driving experience, plenty of power from its 228-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine and decent fuel economy with a combined 26 mpg rating from the EPA.  Despite the change in layout, this new X1 delivers the looks, driving dynamics and an interior more in line with the X3 and X5. If you don’t need the space and can live without some of the pricey extras, the 2016 BMW X1 xDrive28i is worth a look.

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