Test Drive – 2013 BMW X1

Test Drive – 2013 BMW X1

This week, we’re driving BMW’s 2013 X1, rated by the EPA as a mid-size and by BMW as a compact five seat SUV. X1 is the lowest price BMW available, and although it’s new to American consumers it’s not to Europeans, where X1 is in its fourth year of sales. Specifically, X1 starts at $30,800 in rear-drive mode, while our tester all-wheel-drive begins at $32,350. The top line X1 with a V6 starts at $38,600.

With impressive entry prices like this, potential consumers can now join “Bimmerland” with this multi-faceted X1, although a few dollars more gets you into a nice 3-Series sedan, which starts at $36,850. (By the way, “Bimmer” is slang for BMW vehicles, “Beamer” or “Beemer” for BMW motorcycles).

Overall, X1 delivers in areas that are important to today’s SUV lovers, especially in the ride and performance categories. Our tester came in xDrive 28i dress, which is BMW’s nomenclature for all-wheel drive and four cylinder power. The 2.0-liter Twin Power Turbo inline four produces 240-hp and 260 lb. ft. torque and is the same engine the 3-series Bimmers utilize.

This potent engine mates to an impressive eight-speed automatic with sport and automatic modes, allowing acceleration to 60 mph in a very peppy 6.4 seconds. Better yet, X1 then delivers 22 city and 33 highway EPA numbers, which, considering X1’s near two-ton weight, is again extraordinary. Thus, it clearly comes into focus that a well-geared eight-speed automatic can do wonders attached to a turbo four, delivering “muscle car era” acceleration and impressive overall fuel mileage.

These multi-speed automatics are crucial to the future of car building as manufacturers already offering eight-speed automatics are way ahead of the curve. Additionally, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 10-speed automatic in the future, especially with federal MPG mandates just around the corner and 40-mpg highway a necessity. It’s all possible with correct gearing and a final, low highway RPM number.

Also significant is X1’s “start and stop” system that finds X1 saving gas by shutting off the engine when not moving, and then automatically re-starting the engine when the throttle is pressed. This system isn’t as seamless as some of the others we’ve driven, but owners will get used to it.

Underneath, X1’s fully independent suspension is sporty and firm while the interior offers excellent leg and headroom thanks to its boxier, taller stance. The ride is firm and steady, although the higher center of gravity means you don’t want to push X1 into a corner like a BMW 3-Series car. You’ll be disappointed if you do. Also, BMW is not currently supporting any tow numbers for the U.S. model, but German information points to 1,650 lb. tow capacity with an aftermarket hitch installed. (More if you use a trailer brake).

Still, X1 is a purpose built Beamer, offering secure “xDrive” all-wheel drive safety and lots of standard features. Included at no cost are fog lamps, roof rails, all the powers, cruise, air, run-flat 17-inch tires, four wheel ventilated ABS disc brakes, dynamic stability control, high end stereo, iPod/USB adapter, all the airbags, and much more.

Options on our tester included a pricey $6,500 Ultimate Package that adds a garage door opener, dual power front seats, keyless entry, moonroof, technology package with Navigation, auto dimming mirrors and a few other non-essentials. Me? I’d pass on this one for sure. I’d also pass on the $1,900 18-inch light alloy wheels and tires, but would check off a very nice $700 cold weather package. You BMW dealer can assist in your needs, but remember there are two ways to order an X1: Close to base or loaded and pricey, keeping in mind the X3 crossover starts at $38,850.

Important numbers include a 108.7 inch wheelbase, 3,726 lb. curb weight, 16.6 gallon fuel tank, 15 to 48 cu. ft. of cargo space.

X1’s exterior design is impressive, with the BMW “kidney grille” most prominent. It’s a great entry point for BMW lovers and worthy of serious consideration.

Entry Price: $30,800 | Price as Tested: $45,595

Likes: Style performance, transmission, interior, BMW legend.
Dislikes: Only a four-year/50,000 mi. warranty, power driver seat extra.

(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist)

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