2021 BMW X1
2021 BMW X1
The 2021 BMW X1 is the smallest of BMW’s crossover SUVs, and the most affordable car in its lineup. It delivers what BMWs are known for: nimble handling, a compliant ride, and impressive acceleration. It also offers efficient cabin space, because it’s shaped more like a small minivan than an SUV.
It was updated in 2020, so for 2021 there are no changes except to colors.
It’s quick because it uses the same engine that’s used in the 5-Series, a heavier mid-size luxury sedan. The 2.0-liter turbo-4 makes 228 hp; it’s mated to a 8-speed automatic transmission, with standard front-wheel drive or more common all-wheel drive.
The EPA rates the 2021 BMW X1 at 24 mpg city, 33 highway, 27 combined with front-wheel drive, or 23/31/26 mpg with all-wheel drive. That’s on premium fuel.
The IIHS gives the X1 its top “Good” score in every test, while the NHTSA gives it five stars overall. Standard safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings and automatic high-beams. Optional safety equipment, including adaptive cruise control, is expensive.
The X1 is simple. It’s either an sDrive28i with front-wheel drive, or xDrive28i with all-wheel drive. The sDrive 28i is $36,395, while the xDrive 28i is $38,395.
Standard equipment includes synthetic leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, automatic windshield wipers, and an 8.8-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay compatibility.
The M Sport trim adds big intakes and color-matched trim, for $4,400. Then there’s the M Sport handling package, for $4,650.
The warranty is 4 years or 50,000 miles, and includes 3 years or 36,000 miles of free maintenance for the original owner.
The X1 has some crossover cues, but not many. With its tall hatchback shape, its design is cleaner and simpler than the brand’s bigger SUVs—but roof rails are standard. The optional M Sport trim doesn’t do much to change its image.
The X1 is just 175.5 inches long, but the cabin is not cramped. Most of its controls are neatly arranged, but we’re not crazy about the clunky infotainment controller.
The fit and finish meets the BMW standard, but wood and leather trim are expensive extras. Skip them; the standard synthetic leather is fine. The front seats seem small and flat to many drivers, though the rear seats offer a decent 37 inches of leg room. The seat isn’t wide enough for three adults, at least not for very long.
Cargo space is just under 59 cubic feet, which is good for a crossover SUV of this size.
With 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque from the 2.0-liter turbo-4, the X1 is plenty quick. It can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 6.6 seconds with front-drive, and 6.3 seconds with all-wheel drive, thanks to better grip from the standing start. There’s good passing power thanks largely to the responsive 8-speed automatic transmission.
The base 18-inch wheels and tires deliver a compliant ride, but the optional 19-inchers make it stiffer. Run-flat tires are standard, but they too are stiff; regular tires (optional for $150 each) provide a better ride and handling balance.
The X1’s steering is firm and the handling is good, if not entertaining. The M Sport package has sharper moves, but for $4,650 they’re a pricey upgrade—and make the X1 ride more roughly to boot.
The 2021 X1 holds up BMW’s brand image with a flawless powertrain and available all-wheel drive. The seats could be more comfortable, and we wish it didn’t need premium fuel, but still, the X1 is a good deal for BMW engineering and quality. Buy the base model and add a few safety options for the best bargain.
—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection