2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Road Test

The 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i gives a whole new meaning to entry-level.

What It Is
A small crossover to get you from point A to B.
Best Thing
It's a great ride, energetic, and efficient.
Worst Thing
The interior screams "cheap." Not something you'd expect from a BMW.
Snap Judgment
If you're going from a Nissan Sentra to the BMW X1, it's the perfect car for you.


I was backing the 2013 BMW X1 out of its parking spot, when suddenly the engine died. My first thought was that it was a manual and that I stalled it, which is something I've done in the past; however, this wasn't the case. I had just found out the BMW X1 has a start/stop feature. That would have been something good to know.

The X1 is BMW's attempt at an entry-level crossover. When compared to the Range Rover Evoque or the Infiniti EX35, the BMW X1 falls short. Although it's the least expensive out of the three, you get more for the price out of the other two. There's too much missing, and when you get inside, it doesn't seem like it's a BMW, let alone a vehicle from a luxury automaker. There were definitely some mixed feelings, both in terms of the interior and just what the vehicle was, but one thing remained unanimous. It's not worth the price.

Taking the X1 out on the road, it had significant power and handled like a dream, which many have come to expect from the automaker. However, there's not much to like when you take away the transmission and performance. But hey, if you want a BMW, don't have much money, and all you care about is the brand, the X1 might be the perfect fit.

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What We Drove

The BMW X1 that was dropped off at our offices came with a price tag of $45,595, well over the starting price of $32,350. That's because of the Nissan Versa's worth of options added to the price. For example, our X1 came with an optional paint color, Valencia Orange, which added $550 to the overall cost. Other extra features included the $1,900 xLine package, $500 fineline bay matte wood trim, $700 cold weather package, a $1,200 lighting package, and another $850 for Servotronic, BMW Apps, and satellite radio. But the biggest culprit by far was the $6,650 premium package, which added an auto-dimming rearview, interior, and exterior mirrors, keyless entry, lumbar support, universal garage door opener, panoramic sunroof, power front seats (no, they're not standard), ambiance lighting, leather upholstery, and satellite radio with a 1 year subscription. Also added to our vehicle were voice command, real-time traffic information, navigation, BMW Assist with Bluetooth, and an iPod and USB adapter.

As an IIHS Top Safety Pick, the BMW X1 is one of the safest vehicles on the road in a crash. Safety features for the BMW X1 include a front and rear head protection system, driver's and passenger's front airbag supplemental restraint system with dual-threshold and dual-stage deployment, front-passenger seat sensor to prevent unnecessary airbag deployment, BMW's Advanced Safety System, front safety belts with pretensioners, daytime running lights, BMW Assist eCall with emergency request and automatic collision notification.

Other safety features include front-door-mounted side-impact airbags, LED brake lights, coded driveaway function, and a crash sensor that activates the battery safety terminal disconnect of the alternator, fuel pump, and starter from the battery.

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The Commute

For our daily drive, the BMW X1 only excelled in one area: performance. It handled and delivered exactly what you would expect of a vehicle with this high of a price tag. Getting up to highway speeds was no problem for the X1, and it had plenty of passing power.

Inside the cabin it was relatively quiet, but when you put your foot down, the noise level increases. On the freeway this was more noticeable, and when I turned up the radio to drown out some of that noise, I found myself disappointed by the quality of the audio. The sound quality on the standard radio was lousy and our X1 test car wasn't equipped with the premium $875 Harman Kardon sound system. The Bang & Olufsen sound system isn't even available for X1 models. The front seat, however, was very roomy. There was plenty of leg and headroom for most drivers.

There's little about the 2013 BMW X1's interior that says you're in a $45,000 car. The materials aren't what you'd expect, and the noise from the poor construction of them is surprising. One big problem was the quality of interior materials. When you get behind the wheel of a BMW, you come to expect certain luxuries, even in an entry-level vehicle such as this one. But this interior was cheap. It was full of hard plastics, with little-to-no soft touch surfaces. It squeaked and rattled constantly-especially the tacked-on cupholder-and felt like BMW failed to give the interior a final once-over before putting it on the market.

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The Grocery Run

The inside of the BMW X1 isn't as roomy inside as you would think from looking at the exterior. The trunk barely fit my dogs' weekend necessities, like their food and folded crates. Even the back seat was lacking in space. After adjusting the driver's seat, my larger dog could barely fit. He was falling off the bench seat and had to sit with his back hunched for the majority of the ride. The front seat, however, was very roomy. There was plenty of leg and headroom for most drivers and passengers.

Because cargo space is so limited on the 2013 BMW X1, don't expect to be able to fit all your groceries into the trunk area. You're going to have to put most of them in the back seat as it has more room. We were only able to fit seven grocery bags in the back with a folded up stroller, but when we took it out, we were able to squeeze in 15, not bad, but not very impressive for a crossover, either.

When trying to place child booster or infant car seats in the back row, the space seems to be even smaller. With a car seat situated behind the front passenger, the front seat has to be almost all the way forward, making it cramped for an average adult. With younger children without the need of a car seat, there is plenty of room. The doors swing open wide to accommodate easy ingress and egress.

The back row isn't as roomy as it should be, and because of that, taller passengers may feel cramped and not have enough leg or head room. However, the people who would buy this vehicle are more family-oriented and won't be carting around taller people all the time. Just don't take this car on a road trip; you won't have enough room to fit everything and everyone comfortably.

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The Weekend Fun

The BMW X1 was great driving down the freeway, and as a daily driver--with the emphasis on "driver"--it can make you quite happy if you ignore its shortcomings. The performance side of the vehicle was excellent. It has one of the best 2.0-liter engines, can take hard turns and sticks to the road, and steering is tight. Our BMW X1 was a great drive, the transmission was amazing, and it could handle almost anything you threw at it.

While driving through Main Street in Huntington Beach, I thought it would be a good time to test the start/stop feature which I had turned off for the majority of my time behind the wheel. When first turned back on, it didn't seem like it wanted to work, and the engine kept running when I was at a full stop. After about ten minutes, it finally kicked in, and when it did, it was very noticeable. The engine would abruptly cut out, and when you let your foot off the brake, it gave a jerk and flared back up. Everyone on staff wished for a more fluid transition, and it's something that BMW could definitely work on.

One thing that I did notice when first sitting behind the wheel was that the pedals are far too close together. You have to be careful when braking and accelerating, and make sure your foot is on the correct pedal. While at a light, it would be easy to accidentally hit the wrong pedal, either if you're slowing down or speeding up, as many drivers are focused on the road ahead and not necessarily the distance between the pedals.

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Summary

If you want a BMW just to say you have a BMW, without having to pay the cubic dollars you normally have to, the X1 is your car. But aside from the badges and the grille, there's little here that screams "BMW" or even "luxury." From the exterior that looks more like a wagon than an SUV, to the interior filled with hard, cheap plastics and removable cup holder that rattled continuously, the X1 never really felt like a luxury-branded vehicle. Although it's a great drive, with handling and steering you would expect from the luxury automaker, there are definitely things that BMW should work on to improve the quality of the vehicle, especially considering how quickly the price escalates when you add options. As it sits, we have trouble thinking of this car as costing more than $35,000, much less $45,000. Fully optioned, an Infiniti EX doesn't even hit the $40k mark. We'd much rather go with one of its competitors, as you get more for your money and quality materials.

Spec Box

Price-as-tested: $45,595
Fuel Economy
EPA City: 22
EPA Highway: 33
EPA Combined: 26
Cargo Space: 7 with stroller, 15 without Child Seat Fitment, Second Row: Fair
Estimated Combined Range: 332
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: No Rating

Notebook Quotes

"If you look at everything underneath the sheetmetal, this thing is among the best BMWs on sale today." -Jacob Brown, Online Editor

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