The new 2016 BMW X1 compact SUV is a nimble and happy throwback to the usual traditional BMW designs and styles. And here is where the problem gets touchy as this traditional car maker attempts to compromise traditional designs and styles with newer types and technology. While the new, nimble, and compact X1 can hold its own against other nimble and compact competitors like the Mercedes Benz GLA 250 and Audi Q3, the X1 obviously can’t compete with the larger ones like the Lincoln MKC and the newer Buick Envision and Lexus NX 200t. But what does this mean if BMW can feel the equal of its rivals but can’t find superiority against lesser brands? Realistically, the BMW X1 SUV is fun to drive, this much is certain. It offers the traditional performance and handling that makes BMW and exciting car to drive anytime. However, there are also realistic struggles on other fronts.
For one, prices start at a whopping $33,000 and this includes an sDrive28i with eight-speed automatic transmission and 228 horsepower 2-liter turbocharged four cylinder engine. The sDrive28i links the engine and transmission to the all-wheel drive system that sends 100% of power to the rear wheels should the front wheels slip during sports driving. With the above price you also get leather upholstery, voice recognition, heated front seats and steering wheel, backup camera, power sunroof, 18-inch alloy wheels, run-flat tires, power tailgate, wood trim, computerized navigation and GPS, Harman Kardon audio, and sports suspension. Prices for all models between $33,000 to $45,000 include the destination charge. Though the X1 is a short and compact SUV, its passenger and cargo space ranks at excellent. The front seats are actually comfortable and roomy, even with the steering wheel. However, the screen for the navigation and audio seems kind of small and uses a cumbersome rotary controller, something that’s a generation behind something called buttons or even wireless.
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The climate system has two vents in the dashboard that are permanently aimed at the rearview mirror. Mind you, some people still like the vents aimed directly at them especially during hot days. This reduced air flow will take a while to cool the whole car. Driving wise, again this is where the X1 is superior. The handling is superb, steering is fast and responsive. The suspension – whether the original or the sporty one – always kept the X1 balanced and composed and keeps squarely in fast traffic maneuvers. It holds fast even through fast curves. It has an appealing EPA fuel economy rating at 22 miles per gallon in the city, 31MPG on the highway and 25MPG combined. The key combined figure beats the Q3, Envision, NX 200t and MKC. It tied the Infiniti QX30 and trails the GLA 250. If the BMW X1 competed solely its traditional nemeses at Audi and Mercedes, it would be the clear winner. So if it can’t even beat SUV newcomers form Lexus, Lincoln, and Buick, what happens when people discover the large price disparity?