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2019 BMW X1 review: A standout in its class

The X1 offers an excellent mix of sporty driving characteristics and crossover utility. Just be sure you go easy on the options.

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Emme Hall
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Emme Hall Former editor for CNET Cars

I love two-seater, RWD convertibles and own a 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata for pavement fun and a lifted 2001 Miata for pre-running. I race air-cooled Volkswagens in desert races like the Mint 400 and the Baja 1000. I have won the Rebelle Rally, seven-day navigational challenge, twice and I am the only driver to compete in an EV, the Rivian R1T.

3 min read

Though we tend to think of BMW as a maker of premium cars with premium price tags, the truth is, there are a number of Bimmers that are actually quite affordable. Take this subcompact X1 crossover, for example, which starts around $35,000 -- the average transaction price of a new vehicle in the US.

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7.4

2019 BMW X1

MSRP

The Good

An inexpensive way to start with the BMW brand. Excellent utility and sporty driving characteristics.

The Bad

Apple CarPlay isn't standard and Android Auto isn't available at all. Options add up quickly.

The Bottom Line

A standout in the class, the 2019 BMW X1 is fun to drive, can haul a good amount of gear and is relatively easy on the wallet.

OK, yes, you can get subcompact crossovers from the likes of Mazda or Nissan for about $10,000 less, but in the luxury segment, the BMW is a bit of a bargain. The Cadillac XT4Jaguar E-Pace and Mercedes-Benz GLA250 are all more expensive. And frankly, they aren't as good.

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Watch this: 2019 BMW X1: The crossover that compromises

Plenty of sport

The five-passenger X1 comes standard with front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is available as an option. Regardless, every X1 is powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine, with 228 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque and an 8-speed automatic transmission. That's enough oomph to scoot this subcompact CUV to 60 miles per hour in a BMW-estimated 6.3 seconds. Not too shabby.

A touch of the "sport" button results in better throttle response and a bit more weight to the steering's action, though in general, I could use more feedback. There's another "sport" setting on the gear shifter, which changes the transmission's programming, allowing it to hold gears longer and downshift earlier.

2018 BMW X1
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2018 BMW X1

The 2019 BMW X1 is the least expensive way to get your butt into a Bimmer.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

You can opt for an M Sport suspension, but even without it, the X1 rides and handles really well. The X1 is plenty eager to dive into a corner, but offers nice composure when you're just cruising. That said, I highly recommend ditching the standard run-flat tires for the optional all-season rubber. The run-flats are noisy and add a little harshness to the ride. The non-run-flat setup is definitely the way to go.

As for fuel economy, the X1 sits near the top of its class, with EPA ratings of 22 miles per gallon in the city, 31 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined with all-wheel drive. That's not as good as a Volvo XC40 or Mercedes GLA250, but bests the Audi Q3, Cadillac XT4 and Jaguar E-Pace.

Plenty of utility

The X1's interior is typical BMW, with a horizontal design scheme and upscale materials throughout the cabin. The optional Dakota leather is super nice, as are the soft-touch surfaces and wood accents. Quite a bit of road and wind noise permeate the cabin, however -- a little more sound insulation would be nice.

2019 BMW X1 remains a svelte crossover

See all photos

There's great utility in here, too, with 27.1 cubic feet of space behind the second row of seats, or a whopping 58.7 cubic feet with them folded. That's about 10 more cubic feet than what's offered in the Audi, Cadillac and Volvo. I can fit 26 more 12-packs of Diet Dr. Pepper in the X1 than I can in the E-Pace. Priorities, people!

Tech shortcomings

If there's any place where cost-cutting is evident, it's with onboard technology. Though my tester is equipped with BMW's iDrive infotainment system on an optional 8.8-inch touchscreen, a tiny, 6.5-inch screen is standard. iDrive is relatively intuitive, controlled either though the touchscreen or by a dial on the center console. Navigation is an option, though it offers crisp graphics and entering a destination with voice control is easy. And let's not forget, Apple CarPlay is available, but only as an option. Android Auto isn't available at all.

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2018 BMW X1

The interior with the optional Dakota leather is a nice place to spend your commute.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

Speaking of not available, you can't get blind-spot monitoring on the X1, and adaptive cruise control costs another $1,000. That said, the 2019 X1 comes with BMW's Active Driving Assistant, which includes forward collision warning with emergency braking, lane departure warning and automatic high beams.

A subcompact standout

The 2019 BMW X1 has a base price of $34,950, not including $995 for destination, but the options pile on quickly. Load up all the options and you can easily crest $45,000. That's kind of par for the course in this segment, though.

BMW's subcompact X1 handles twisty roads with grace, and has more utility than anything else in this part of the luxury space. Keep the options light, and you'll have a well-equipped Bimmer that won't totally drain your wallet.


Editors' note: The pricing information listed above reflects a 2019 model, but a 2018 model X1 was provided for testing.

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7.4

2019 BMW X1

MSRP

Score Breakdown

Performance 7.5Features 7.5Design 7.5Media 7

Specs

See full specs Engine Turbocharged, 4 Cylinder EngineDrivetrain Front Wheel DriveMPG 26 MPGPassenger Capacity 5Body Type Crossovers, SUVs