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Car Tech Video: 2013 BMW X1 xDrive 28i
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Car Tech Video: 2013 BMW X1 xDrive 28i

7:40 /

BMW's littlest crossover that could -- but should it?

-It's BMW's littlest crossover with their littlest engine and just about their littlest price tag as well. But is this thing big enough to hold the tech that you want? Let's drive the 2013 BMW X1 in the xDrive28i configuration and check the tech. You might think, by the name X1, this is actually based on the 1 Series car, but it's not. It's actually based on a reduced version of the X3 crossover, which is based on the 3 Series car. The X1 is nearly 8 inches shorter than an X3; about 7 inches lower, hence, the wagon look; 386 pounds lighter, that's a lot; and $6,500 cheaper, also a lot. Also, a lot of folks aren't sure what to call it. What do you think? Is it an SUV? Or is it a wagon? When you get in the X1, you're gonna see a lot of familiar. This is not a car that has a bunch of new design language or new technology. In fact, it's got a subset of BMW's overall very impressive tech. The key things are here. They play the hits. You've got a nice widescreen, though not BMW's largest as you can tell, but plenty big certainly in a compact cabin. At this point, you recognize iDrive common across all their vehicles. I've noted this, in every instance, clockwise turn on the knob means down the list. They didn't always do that in every mode. I applaud them. That's what makes sense to me. Basic on this guy are the sources that are kind of the hits. You've got AM and FM radio, HD radio, CD player here, though carmakers were starting to ace those, auxiliary jack down there, and USB for thumb drives and iPod. Now, BMW's apps are looking pretty dated at this point by getting the app support and only works on iOS devices, by the way, no android which is real dumb in 2013. You get Facebook support, Twitter support, and web radio station support. But that's nowhere near the modest galaxy of apps you're finding on Ford, GM, and Toyota these days. We've shown you those systems on a lot of those vehicles lately at even a lower price point. Now, navigation on BMW has always been quite good. This one doesn't have the full package of connected navigation, however. If you wanna go enter a destination, there's no choice here to go Google searching. You can get a driver assistance package on this vehicle, but before you get all excited, it's actually real simple, its park sensors in the bumper and a backup camera. That's kind of a reach to call that driver assistance. Oh, check this out. You could have two "tablet" options for the rear seat of this car. I put tablet in quotes. One of them is an interesting strategy by BMW, to do a DVD media player tablet. It's not an internet tablet. It's just a media player in kind of a chunky tablet form factor, but for 600 bucks, you get a pair of them that will play SD car, CD, or USB media. That's definitely a great price, although I still don't like the technology platform. For 179 bucks, you can get an iPad holder that will mount your iPad back there and plug it into power. Expensive but a better choice. Okay, well, the technology in the vehicle is relatively routine for BMW, what's under the hood is not. You've got an inline-4 with twin-scroll turbo power behind it. This is unusual for BMW and you can also tell it here by this kinda blank space where they ended up routing some hoses. They could have made the X1 about 10 inches shorter by my estimation, but they wanted to get the proportions right. The numbers on this little engine are impressive. 240 horsepower, 260 foot-pounds of torque. The vehicle weighs 3720 something pounds, but gets up to 60 in 6.3 seconds while delivering 22/33 MPG. Only transmission this is possibly hooked up to is that 8-speed automatic you spotted in the cabin, that's it. Paddles that you may have seen on the wheel, those are optional with an M Sport package. Those are not standard. Front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive as we have here, that's an xDrive that denotes all wheels being driven. By the way, if you buy an X3, which is much larger and heavier, but it's a 28i variant, it's gonna have the same engine within like 1 or 2 horsepower and foot-pounds, but big difference in weight. Think about that. This is actually a very nice fetching combination. Okay, I'm in a red light here to start our drive and the engine is off 'cause the start/stop technology is in place. In a moment, I'm gonna lift off the brake and the engine is gonna start except, if I do this and I move the steering wheel, that also restarts the engine. I kinda understand the logic and I kinda don't because I frequently kinda, you know, nudge the wheel while I'm at a stop. I don't mean anything by it, but there goes my start/stop efficiency. Secondly, when BMWs restart, I find them to be about the roughest, slowest restart of any car I've driven that has this technology. It's just not refined. In a car like this? It just needs to be. Now, the next thing you notice in this car is the elasticity of the powertrain. It's a turbo, so you've got some turbo lag/kind of rubberbandiness in there. Secondly, you've got all kinds of processors that are helping think, 8-speed transmission, so you can sometimes be buried under a couple of extra cogs that the car has gotta dig itself out of. All that adds up to what is not the most sharply responsive BMW by any means. There is no replacement for displacement. Let's face it. Small-bore cars do labor under a lot of sort of [unk] power delivery no matter what tech tricks you apply to them. But this car is just---- it's not a joy to drive as a sharp driving tool. It's a perfectly nice vehicle to drive in everyday work and the handling is not bad, although we don't have any particularly interesting suspension tricks here. The steering is what is so notable. Once you're up around 30, 40 miles an hour or more, that's fine. Around slower speeds, this has to be the heaviest steering I have ever driven in a modern car and there is no setting for it in this vehicle. There is a Servotronic steering option that I believe gives you some different profiles, but this one is just, you know, it is what it is and it's incredibly heavy steering. The last note I wanna say about the interior is a small thing, but what the hell is this? That's the cup holder. You stick it in a slot over here on the console. You do have one here. You don't wanna share that obviously 'cause that's no fun. There's nothing in the console. So, yeah, this is number two, shotgun is this pop-up, which is kinda clunky. All right, let's ballpark an X1 X28 at about $33,200, but then you're gonna want that driver assistance package, rear camera, and parking sonar especially with the vehicle that has this kind of sightlines that's $950 except you can't get that without also getting the technology package which is GPS navigation, bluetooth, and voice command. I'm not big on tying like that. All in, you can do one of the CNET style and stay comfortably under $40,000. If you start to add in lots of the luxury package stuff, though, you're well into the mid-40s. Be careful on that.

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