Under the 2021 BMW X1’s somewhat anonymous-looking outer skin lies a playful chassis that give this small SUV a winning character. All X1s come with the a 228-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which provides considerable pep and reasonable fuel economy. On a twisty road, the ute comes alive and delivers much of the same crisp handling and ride refinement that the BMW brand is known for. Inside, the cabin is spacious for four adults, and the large cargo area will swallow suitcases, groceries, and bulky items with ease. A few down-market materials and a pair of bar-stool-shaped front seats slightly dull the X1’s shine, though. For a sportier compact SUV wearing the roundel, check out the mechanically similar X2, which we review separately.
What’s New for 2021?
BMW has made very few changes to the X1 for 2021: SiriusXM satellite radio is now standard, and LED fog lamps are no longer part of the optional Convenience or Premium packages. Also, BMW won’t let customers order the sports seats as a standalone option anymore. You have to select the M Sport pack if you want them.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We’d suggest you stick with the front-wheel-drive sDrive28i, since moving up to the all-wheel-drive xDrive model doesn’t exactly improve the X1’s chances of tackling the Rubicon Trail. It’ll also save you $2000, which we’d put toward the M Sport package, not only because we like its sportier appearance but because we prefer that package’s more sculpted sport seats.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
There is only one engine and transmission pairing for the X1: a silky 228-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The turbo four provides plenty of pep as well as good fuel efficiency. In our all-wheel-drive test vehicle, we managed a 6.3-second 60-mph time, which makes it one of the quicker entries in this class. Front-wheel drive is standard. The optional all-wheel-drive system favors the front wheels, although up to 100 percent of the engine’s output can, for brief moments in low-traction scenarios, flow to the rear.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The X1 boasts competitive fuel-economy ratings for its class, though the Mercedes-Benz GLA250 beats it in both city and highway EPA numbers. And the all-wheel-drive X1 we tested delivered just 29 mpg on the highway, 2 mpg short of its EPA rating.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The X1’s interior is nicely appointed with mostly premium materials. But poke around and you’ll find evidence of cost cutting. The glovebox door is as flimsy as a plastic lunchbox, and the bin hidden under the front seat, while useful, feels as if BMW bought it in bulk from a dollar-store fire sale. The cockpit has a driver-focused layout, reinforcing the X1’s sporty personality. Facing the driver is a businesslike gauge cluster that looks elegant and is easy to read at a glance. The driving position is great, although the steering-wheel adjustments could use more range of motion in both angle and reach. The cargo area is carpeted, trimmed in chrome, and cavernous. We managed to fit seven carry-on cases behind the second row and 19 total with the rear seat folded.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The X1’s standard infotainment system is intuitive and easy to operate while on the go but perhaps a little dated. The 8.8-inch iDrive system comes with in-dash navigation, Apple CarPlay capability (Android Auto is not offered), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, SiriusXM satellite radio, a USB port, and a seven-speaker audio system. A 12-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system is optional. To control all these things, BMW provides a rotary knob on the center console that fits comfortably beneath the driver’s right hand. The controller is surrounded by shortcut buttons for phone, nav, and other functions.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The X1 received five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration but missed out on a Top Safety Pick designation last year from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety thanks to headlamps that scored only Marginal in that agency’s testing. Basic driver-assistance features are provided at no cost, but more advanced technology will require adding option packages. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning
- Standard lane-departure warning
- Standard automatic high-beam headlamps
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
BMW’s limited warranty and powertrain protection are ordinary for the class, but the company sweetens the deal with three years of free scheduled maintenance. The Lexus NX and Lincoln MKC offer the same limited warranties, and they provide six-year or 70,000-mile powertrain coverage, but both come with shorter periods of complimentary scheduled maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Complimentary scheduled maintenance is covered for three years or 36,000 miles
More Features and Specs