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 of a new vehicle in the US.
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 , and Mercedes-Benz GLA250 are all more expensive. And frankly, they aren't as good.
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.
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 standardfor 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 aor Mercedes GLA250, but bests the , 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.
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!
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.
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.