2023 BMW X1 Review

2023 BMW X1 - A premium entry model that has been updated all-around


The X1 is a subcompact five-passenger luxury crossover that first debuted in 2009. For 2023, it enters its third generation with a fresh exterior design, updated interior, and standard xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive. With a bold new look that mimics the larger X3, it's much harder to tell the two apart aside from size when side by side.  As the entry level crossover, or 'sport activity vehicle' the X1 offers a lot of value with a base MSRP under $40,000.

There is one core model known as the X1 xDrive28i that can be further customized with options. It comes standard with a 2.0 TwinPower Turbo inline 4-cylinder with intelligent all-wheel drive. It generates 241 horsepower with 295 pound-feet of torque mated to a new 7-speed dual clutch transmission. It can tow up to 3,500 pounds and comes with a 4-year/50,000-mile new vehicle warranty. Competition includes vehicles such as the Audi Q3, Cadillac XT4, Lexus UX, Mercedes-Benz GLA, and Volvo XC40. I spent a week in an X1 with the xLine trim and Premium Package and here's what stood out...

Exterior Design (+)
The X1 has shed its cute exterior for a bolder, more aggressive look that borrows cues from the rest of the BMW crossover lineup. Up front is a larger, almost squared, BMW kidney grille flanked by updated LED headlights. Front and back, you will find standard LED headlights with cornering lights and full LED taillights which provide a new interpretation of the L shape classically sported by BMW X models. The lower portion of the fascia blends a combination of black and satin silver to give it dimension. The side profile features a taller, boxier shape with flattened fenders, silver trim around the windows, and black/silver combo lower trim that extends around the X1. The long roofline flows into a spoiler extending far over the rear glass. Together with the shoulder line above the flush door openers, it gives the silhouette a long, athletic appearance. Around the back, the 3D-like taillights have a distinct shape and lighting signature.  The rear window seems smaller compared to the rest of the hatch, but the design has character and looks elegant. Overall proportions are well-done with minimal overhangs and a strong presence.

Wheel Variety (+)
Standard on all models are 18-inch alloy wheels with a brushed silver/black finish. Vehicles equipped with either xLine design or the M Sport Package may upgrade to optional 19-inch wheels or 20-inch wheels with performance non-run flat tires. There are six different designs to choose from with either all-season or performance tires. All designs match the X1 exterior well giving it a sporty look.

Package Options (+/-)
Two different design packages: xLine or M Sport will give the X1 a unique look. xLine models come with any of 18 - 20" wheel options, high-gloss body cladding, additional satin aluminum exterior trim, and exterior mirror caps. The grille is finished in a pearl-effect chrome and the interior is further enhanced with different surfaces, aluminum door sills, and illuminated trim. M Sport models get large cooling air inlets in the sides of the front end and a striking rear bumper with integral diffuser element. In M Sport guise, the new BMW X1 features exclusive 18-inch M V-spoke bi-color alloy wheels, Adaptive M suspension, and Shadowline trim. The M-specific interior appointments include sport seats, Aluminum Hexacube trim, and an M leather steering wheel with transmission shift paddles.

Performance (+)
BMW revised the 2.0L twin turbo 4-cylinder to deliver 241 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. It mates exclusively with a new 7-speed dual clutch transmission. It shifts quickly and smoothly through the gears to propel the X1 from 0-60 in 6.2 seconds. In vehicles equipped with the M Sport Package, gearshift paddles behind the steering wheel enable extremely rapid manual gear changes. The shift paddles also enable a Sport Boost function. When the driver pulls the left-hand shift paddle for at least a second, all the powertrain and chassis settings are primed to maximize their sporting responses for the most immediate acceleration possible. The X1 feels zippy and agile around town. In true BMW fashion, the ride is on the firmer side although it does a nice job of absorbing the road. Handling is precise and it's a lot of fun to cruise in on the highway. Steering is well-balanced as it goes where intended with little body lean around corners. This is among the best handling compact crossovers available. Drivers can also choose their preferred driving mode that includes Personal, Sport, or Efficient. Each activates specific settings for the powertrain and steering, the style of the readouts on the BMW Curved Display and the interior lighting.

Fuel Economy (+)
When it arrived with a full 16.1-gallon tank, it offered a range of over 510 miles. Fuel economy is rated at 25 / 34 / 28 MPG city / highway / combined which is among the best in the class. BMW recommends premium fuel.

Interior (+)
Just as the exterior received an overhaul, so did the interior. The new design is modern and premium outshining many competitors. Hopping inside, the first thing to notice is BMW's new curved display. It features a frameless glass surface that is formed by a 10.25-inch instrument cluster and a 10.7-inch central information display. The screens merge into a single unit behind a continuous surface that curves towards the driver. The state-of-the-art graphics and operating system's menu structure have been designed with a smartphone-style appearance, making them perfect for intuitive touch control. Surrounding the screen and interior are dynamic lighting effects that add to the techy vibe.

The rest of the materials inside blend color and texture for a sporty, but elegant look. My test model featured red/black bicolor leather seats which looked good... although I personally would not pair with the Utah Orange Metallic on its exterior. The center console features a floating armrest with the electronic gear shifter, volume controls, and start/stop integrated into it. BMW also wins for one of the best smartphone placements with a vertical charging pad behind the cupholders that has a cross bar to hold it in place, so it won't move around. The entire vibe is high-tech, including the door panels with a futuristic grab handle, mixed materials, and patterned surface of the Harmon Kardon speakers. An available panoramic roof provides light and an open vibe throughout.

Technology (+)
BMW has stepped up its technology experience starting with the aforementioned curved display. The system features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation, a Wi-Fi hot spot, USB ports and more. The redesigned system has more intuitive controls via the touchscreen, multi-function steering wheel and voice commands. The system is impressive with crisp graphics and the ability to personalize. Also available is a clear, well-positioned head-up display and a new augmented view function that supplements the navigation system. A live video stream from the driver's perspective is shown on the control display and augmented by supplementary information that matches the context. At confusing junctions, for instance, an animated directional arrow is integrated into the video image to help the driver take the best turn-off for the planned route.

Other tech features include some high-resolution camera images that include a new overhead interior camera that connects through the My BMW App. Exterior cameras include a full surround-view camera. The cameras are also instrumental in the optional Active Park Distance Control and Parking Assistant Plus which help drivers select and park in spaces either parallel or perpendicular. Views include surround view, panorama view, and a 3D view.

Seating (+)
The X1 seats up to five passengers and comes standard with synthetic leather upholstery and power-adjustable front seats. Alcantara-trimmed front sport seats, heated front seats and a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel are available. The seats are comfortable and supportive in both rows. There's an impressive amount of space up front with plenty of head, leg, and shoulder room. Rear seats are tighter, but sufficient for three kids or two adults. Seating positioning is good and highly adjustable for passengers of various sizes.

Cargo (+)
Another area that the X1 impresses is in its cargo capacity where it offers 25.7 cubic feet of space behind the second row and 57.2 cubic feet with the second row folded flat. In addition to the space, there are two side pockets in the back that are perfect for holding some car cleaning supplies or groceries when needed. There is also underfloor storage, although that is where the spare tire is stored. Overall, it has more overall cargo capacity than its competition.

Safety & Driver Assist Features (+/-)
Safety is a growing priority at BMW, and they've started offering more standard features than they had in the past.

The X1 comes with the following standard:
* Rearview camera
* Forward collision warning
* Forward automatic emergency braking
* Pedestrian and cyclist detection
* Lane-departure warning
* Blind-spot monitoring
* Rear cross-traffic alert
* Vehicle exit warning
* Front and rear parking sensors
* Rain-sensing windshield wipers
* Automatic high-beam headlights

Other available features include reverse collision warning with automatic emergency braking, stop-and-go adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, driver attention monitoring, park assist, surround view monitor, and traffic jam assist. Some of these features are standard on competitors but come as part of one of two packages Convenience ($1,950) or Premium ($4,200) on the X1.

Final Statement (+)
The X1 has a lot to offer in the subcompact luxury crossover category and its complete overhaul for 2023 seems to be a win all around. From its stylish and bolder exterior to its tech-oriented interior, BMW addressed everything in this model. It's reasonably priced and can be further optioned to deliver a look and style that suits your personality. Be aware that adding some desired features can quickly drive up the price.

Test Vehicle: 2023 BMW X1 xDrive28i
Exterior Color:
Utah Orange Metallic
Interior Color: Red/Black bi-color Perforated S
Options: Premium Package ($4,200), xLine ($500), Heated seats/steering wheel ($550), 19" wheels ($600), Sport Seats ($400), Remote Engine Start ($300)
MSRP as Tested: $46,795 (with destination)

Jim OBrill

Jim is Director of Marketing for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association and Chicago Auto Show and a co-host of Drive Chicago Radio on WLS 890 AM Chicago. His passion for cars started young and he’s often referred to as the ‘car-guy’ among family and friends. As a former auto detailer, he has an eye for identifying solid used cars and tags along on many car buying adventures. Early in his career he worked at several car dealerships in various areas of the business. As a co-host on Drive Chicago and member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, Jim has had opportunities to attend track school and drive vehicles on multiple circuits such as Road America and Gingerman Raceway. With a background in photography, taking pictures of vehicles has always been a hobby.

Jim also enjoys the trails and taking trucks like his 4Runner off road. He has a special appreciation for older cars and can often be found spending free time at cruise nights or home washing one his four vehicles. Jim resides in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three kids. Follow Jim on Instagram at @jpcars22 for new vehicle content or @forgotten_survivors.312 for shots of older cars still on the streets of Chicagoland.