Caraganza First Drive Review BMW X1: In the beginning

It’s official. I have now been through the entire BMW X series lineup. At least I think so. The end came recently when BMW sent me a 2023 X1. There’s no sort of prize, award, or accolade for this accomplishment. Though I guess spending a week behind some great vehicles is a reward in and of itself.

For those who are unaware the BMW X Series runs from 1 to 7, and even includes the Xi which isn’t a number, but a fully electric version, which means it’s the only X Series that doesn’t burn gas, hence no number. Those silly Germans.

More silly fun BMW facts: the company doesn’t call them Sports Utility Vehicles, but Sports Activity Vehicles; SUV, SAV, same thing.  Also, all the odd numbered X Series vehicles are SU, I mean SAVs, the even numbered ones technically coupes.

All caught up now? Good.

I’ve always been a BMW fan, and while I’m more of a rabid, cultist to all things BMW M Series, I could live with a BMW that isn’t a coupe. Now this means that my favorite among the lineup is the 7 Series which is the biggest, most luxurious, and as such the most expensive.

So would X1, the smallest of the X line, live up to my lofty expectations?

The 2023 version of the X1 is a complete redesign from the outside all the way to the pavement. In addition to BMW’s somewhat controversial, though I don’t know why, dual-kidney grille the 2023 got upgrades to the chassis, powertrain, and the interior. There’s only one trim now as all-wheel drive (xDrive in BMW speak) is now standard and there are more horses from the 2.0 turbocharged 4-cylinder, 13 more to 241, matched up to a seven-speed automatic. It’s still two rows, which is fine, but this allows for more interior room despite its small designation.

All the tech has been updated and now features BMW’s iDrive 8 infotainment system. Of course, in line with all the BMWs I’ve ever tested, you need to have a college degree to learn how to work everything, but as I’ve pointed out before, a single week isn’t really enough time. If you own a BMW, I suspect you’d get the hang of it.

Yes, this is the smallest of the line-up, but from the inside it certainly doesn’t seem so, at least from the driver’s seat. The new interior features a toggle-switch shift lever, a floating center console, an all-digital dashboard, and design elements like textured speaker grilles. The dash is anchored by a singular glass enclosure for the 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.7-inch touchscreen with the touchscreen tilted slightly towards the driver.  Many of the buttons for the climate control and presets are gone, now contained in the menus and submenus of the infotainment system.

Another thing missing is BMW’s iDrive controller knob. The once controller of all things, after a 20-year run it’s gone, at least in the X1. You now have to use the touchscreen or voice control.  Referring to my experience with BMWs, the accessories can be somewhat difficult to control, and without the knob even borderline dangerous while driving, but given some time you can get used to them. I also must admit that while not a fan of voice controls, BMW has beefed theirs up; I did give it a go and it worked well.

Being a BMW there are a lot of standard features like dual-zone automatic climate control, ambient interior lighting, and a power liftgate. Also standard is a blind-spot warning system with a safe-exit feature that sounds an alert if you’re about to open your door into approaching traffic. There’s also an augmented reality display for the navigation system, and a new video recording capability for crashes and theft.

My tester had the Premium Package, a $4200 addon that gives you such things as keyless entry, a panoramic sunroof, auto-dimming mirrors, a wireless smartphone charging pad, a Harmon/Kardon sound system, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. It also adds the BMW Parking Assistant Plus, a camera system that covers the interior and exterior and the Live Cockpit Pro featuring a HUD.

Sadly, like the loss of the iDrive controller knob something else that is missing from the X1: the M variant. The M model of a BMW is the best thing that’s happened to the automobile since tires. The high-performance track-ready vehicles are engineered to go fast and have fun. I had an X4 with the M designation once and loved it. And don’t even get me started on the M model BMWs I’ve had over the years.

The X1 however, has no such thing. At least not yet. My tester did have an M Sport equipment package with some visual stuff like double spoke 19-inch wheels, roof rails, M steering wheel, sport seats, a STEPTRONIC transmission with a paddle shifter and an adaptive M suspension, but to me that’s like French fries without salt and ketchup, just not the same.

That doesn’t mean the X1 isn’t a good thing; in fact, it’s a very good thing indeed. It’s plenty roomy enough, is snappy and responsive on the road, and the best part is that all this goodness is very affordable. The base X1 has an MSRP of $38,600; my tester with the M Sport and Premium Packages topped out at $48,195. All in all, considering the goodness that is this BMW X1, I’d say that’s a pretty damn good deal.

The 2023 BMW X1 XDrive28i
MSRP: $38,600
MSRP (as tested): $48,195
Engine: 2.0 liter turbocharged Inline 4, 241 hp @ 4,500 rpm, 295 lb.-ft torque @ 1,500 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed automated manual
Curb weight: 3,750 lbs.

Exterior Dimensions
Length: 177.2 in.
Overall width with mirrors: 82.8 in.
Overall width without mirrors: 72.6 in.
Height: 64.6 in.
Wheelbase: 106.0 in.
Ground clearance: 8.1 in.

Interior Dimensions
Front head room: 42.1 in.
Front leg room: 40.4 in.
Front shoulder room: 56.1 in.
Rear head room: 39.3 in.
Rear leg room: 37.0 in.
Rear shoulder room: 55.1 in.
Cargo capacity, all seats in place: 25.7 cu.ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 57.2 cu.ft.

Basic: 4 yr./ 50,000 mi.
Drivetrain: 4 yr./ 50,000 mi.
Rust: 12 yr./ unlimited mi.
Roadside assistance: 4 yr./ unlimited mi.
Free maintenance: 3 yr./ 36,000 mi.

Greg Engle