2019 BMW X1

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2019 BMW X1 Review: Is a FWD Bimmer really worthy of the badge?

The X1 is BMW's entry-level subcompact luxury SUV which was first introduced in 2016 and was designed to take on popular rivals like the Volvo XC40 as well as the Mercedes-Benz GLA. Considering that it is the cheapest SUV in the BMW range at a starting price of only $34,950, it is well-equipped and has a comfortable and functional interior. There are only two trims available, the all-wheel-drive xDrive28i, and the front-wheel-drive sDrive28i, both powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Although BMW has carved out a niche for engaging driving and comfortable cruising, the X1 isn't particularly strong in either, focusing more on being an entry-point to the family crossover ranks, and showing just how far BMW has fallen from the days when sheer driving pleasure was the order of the day.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 7 /10
  • Performance 8 /10
  • Fuel Economy 9 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 8 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 9 /10
  • Reliability 8 /10
  • Safety 9 /10
  • Value For Money 9 /10
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2019 BMW X1 Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2018 X1?

There have been many upgrades for 2019, including the addition of onboard navigation with voice control. The safety features have also been markedly improved, with the addition of forward collision warning, lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, as well as front and rear parking sensors, now standard. Apple CarPlay has also been added, but only with a one-year subscription, after which it requires an annual fee. A mid-life refresh is coming for the 2020 model, so for now, the X1 remains visually unchanged.

Pros and Cons

  • Robust engine
  • Great passenger and cargo space
  • Good value for money
  • High-quality interior
  • Agile handling
  • Noisy at high speeds
  • Bumpy on rough roads
  • Generic styling
  • Options can be expensive
  • A FWD BMW just seems wrong

What's the Price of the 2019 BMW X1?

The entry-level X1, in the front-wheel-drive SDrive 28i guise, has a starting MSRP of $34,950 while the all-wheel-drive xDrive28i has a price tag of $36,950. Both have an added destination fee of $995, as well as licensing, taxes, and registration fees.

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2019 BMW X1 Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
See All 2019 BMW X1 Trims and Specs

Handling and Driving Impressions

Compared to many rival SUVs, the X1 feels agile and boasts an almost car-like handling ability which contrasts with the often-lumbering feel of SUVs. Cornering is precise and makes the X1 very easy to drive. Because BMW focuses on sporty driving experience, the ride can feel a bit firm at times - and with a foundation shared with a number of Mini products, it's easy to see why it handes with such verve. On most surfaces, it's hardly noticeable, but bumpy roads make themselves known quite loudly. There's also the option to upgrade to the M Sport suspension as part of the M-sport package, which should smooth things out a bit and give better body control.

The electronically assisted power-steering can feel somewhat numb, but for an entry-level SUV, it's to be expected. Many BMW fans are up in arms about the German manufacturer's decision to make front-wheel drive vehicles, and subsequently, complain of torque steer and the degradation of the driving dynamics. On the X1 the difference can hardly be felt; still, for those looking for some semblance of added driver involvement, an all-wheel-drive version is available. Overall, the X1 feels more like a large hatchback than an SUV and manages to get the right balance of performance and handling to be quite pleasant to pilot.

Verdict: Is the 2019 BMW X1 A Good SUV?

The X1 is the cheapest BMW in the range of crossovers, but that doesn't mean it's a bad car. It provides excellent value for money and a great combination of performance and features. The single engine in the lineup is vigorous enough for most driving conditions and the handling is agile and car-like, combining to create a fun-to-drive small SUV. The interior is comfortable and spacious, with excellent cargo capacity for its class; the interior also has a premium feel to it. With numerous optional extras, as well as a variety of add-on packages to choose from, a certain level of customization is available. As with all vehicles though, there are a few drawbacks. The styling is on the conservative side, and there can be excessive wind and road noise at higher speeds. BMW also seems to be penny-pinching by only offering Apple CarPlay with a one-year subscription, and seeing over many crucial driver aids as only optional affairs, if present at all. Despite the drawbacks, the X1 is a solid performer and fares well amongst competitors; it's a great choice as far as subcompact premium SUVs go.

What BMW X1 Model Should I Buy?

Both the sDrive28i and the xDrive28i share the same features and engine and are only differentiated by their drivetrains. The sDrive28i is the front-wheel-drive variant and costs $34,950, while the all-wheel-drive xDrive28i is slightly more expensive at $36,950.

Opting for the sDrive28i is a good choice, as it remains a brilliant daily driver, ideal for city driving where the lack of all-wheel-drive capabilities isn't all that noticeable. For those living in areas prone to snow, ice or other road conditions that may require more efficient handling (or those planning to go off-road with this little SUV), the xDrive28i is the better option. With both derivatives offering excellent value for money, either choice will be a good one.

2019 BMW X1 Comparisons

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class SUV Mercedes-Benz
Volvo XC40

2019 BMW X1 vs Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class SUV

The GLA is the Mercedes' answer to the X1 in the subcompact SUV class, also available in front or all-wheel-drive and with similar power outputs at 208 hp, 20 less than the BMW. It's slightly cheaper too, priced from $33,950 compared to $34,950 for the sDrive28i. Both have interiors that are handsome and functional, although a bit more basic than their respective brand counterparts. The GLA's, in particular, feels cheaper than what one might expect from a Mercedes. The BMW is more spacious than the Merc, both in terms of passenger volume and trunk space, and with more power it's not surprising it performs better too. It's also the more fun to drive of the pair, and the eight-speed automatic in the BMW is more intuitive. The GLA offers some features like both Android Auto and Apple Carplay, and a Wi-Fi hotspot as standard; some optional driver aids like blind-spot monitoring, a surround camera, and a self-parking system are also available, all of which are excluded from the X1 entirely. For everyday driving the X1 is better than the GLA, and while there is no performance-oriented variant to compare to the 375 hp GLA 45 AMG, this will likely go unchallenged.

See Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class SUV Review

2019 BMW X1 vs Volvo XC40

Volvo's resurgence as a major player in the luxury segment continues with the XC40. Recent Volvo vehicles have top-notch interiors, and the XC40 is no different. It boasts a classy cabin space characterized by Volvo's trademark clean lines and simple practicality. The tablet-like nine-inch screen dominates the dashboard and has both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. The XC40 also comes in either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive, with the entry-level 187 hp T4 starting at $33,200. The top of the range 248 hp T5 inscription has a starting sticker price of $39,750, compared to the 228 hp xDrive28i at $36,950.

The X1 is marginally more spacious than the XC40, but the entry-level sDrive28i is much more exciting to drive than the equivalent XC40 T4. However, the XC40 has more technology and safety features available, as well as more models to choose from. The Volvo also has more distinctive styling than the X1. While both are great cars, the XC40 is the better option due to being better equipped and offering more all-round value for money.

See Volvo XC40 Review
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