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2018 BMW X1 Review

The BMW X1 was the original luxury small crossover, and its 2018 incarnation is still one of the best. It has a high ranking for many reasons, including its punchy powertrain, dynamic handling, abundant passenger room, cavernous cargo hold, and high predicted reliability rating. 

Pros & Cons

  • Polished, energetic powertrain
  • Dynamic handling
  • Spacious, comfy seats
  • Class-leading cargo capacity

 

  • Limited luxury and powertrain offerings

 

Is the BMW X1 a Good SUV?

The X1 is one of the best luxury subcompact SUVs available. While some rivals feel cramped inside, this BMW has enough room for all passengers to stretch out and get comfortable. The X1’s rear-seat legroom is especially impressive, and it can carry a ton of gear. It’s also more than just a practical pint-sized SUV – it has all the fun driving dynamics and athleticism that the brand is built on.  

Should I Buy the BMW X1?

The BMW X1 is an excellent pick for those who don't want to pilot a behemoth SUV, but still need more utility than a car typically offers. You should also consider the X1 if you want classic BMW driving dynamics in a lightweight, easy-to-park package.

Buying an X1 is pretty straightforward: its options list is best described as BMW Lite, with only one powertrain choice. As the brand’s entry-level, small SUV, the X1 misses out on some clever tech equipment (like infotainment gesture control) and opulent features like ventilated front seats. Still, it handily beats out other German rivals like the Audi Q3 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA, all for just a couple hundred dollars more.

Compare the X1, Q3, and GLA »

Should I Buy a New or Used BMW X1?

For 2018, BMW gave the X1 a standard rearview camera. If you’re open to driving a used car, you may want to consider an otherwise identical 2017 X1 to potentially save thousands of dollars. Just know that some models may not have the camera. 

With how quickly luxury vehicles depreciate, you can probably save even more by looking at a 2016 X1, which was fully redesigned. BMW pulled a rare switcheroo for the next model year – all 2016 X1s came with all-wheel drive, while the 2017 X1 had standard front-wheel drive and optional all-wheel drive. So you may have to hunt around a bit for a 2017 with AWD.

You can do more research on the other models in this generation by reading our reviews of the 2016 and 2017 BMW X1. If you decide an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn more about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 BMW X1 »
We Did the Research for You: 29 Reviews Analyzed

Our BMW X1 review includes far more than just one person's opinion. We collected professional evaluations from 29 sources for our full review, combining the feedback with concrete data like fuel economy estimates, safety features, and performance specs to help you make an informed buying decision. This 2018 BMW X1 review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which spans the 2016 through 2018 model years.

The X1 was redesigned for the 2016 model year and has seen only minor tweaks since. As a result, our comprehensive X1 review incorporates applicable data and reviews from the 2016 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

The Best Cars team – a division of U.S. News & World Report – has been reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007. With more than 75 years of combined automotive experience, our editors, writers, and analysts rank a wide variety of new and used cars and issue three annual awards: Best Cars for the Money, Best Cars for Families, and Best Vehicle Brands. To keep our car reviews unbiased, we decline expensive gifts from carmakers, and a third party handles our advertising.

How Much Does the BMW X1 Cost?

There’s one trim level for 2018, the BMW X1 sDrive28i, which starts at $33,900. Add another $2,000 for a BMW X1 xDrive (BMW's all-wheel-drive system). These figures are a smidge higher than the sticker prices of the Mercedes-Benz GLA, Audi Q3, and Infiniti QX30.

For great savings on a new car at your local BMW dealer, check out our U.S. News Best Price Program. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our BMW deals page.

BMW X1 Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: BMW X1 or Audi Q3?

The Audi Q3 stands out from the rest of its brand brethren, but not in a good way. It lacks the dynamic handling that makes most other Audis a joy to drive. Instead, the SUV suffers from an underpowered engine and a suspension more tuned to comfort over sportiness. Drivers looking for a spirited ride will favor the X1 over the Q3.

Which Is Better: BMW X1 or Mercedes-Benz GLA?

The Mercedes-Benz GLA makes the grade for a luxury vehicle’s standard features, with an 8-inch touch screen, two USB ports, and a driver drowsiness monitor. The front seats provide pleasant comfort and support, but the rearward real estate is another story. The X1 trumps the GLA in both back-seat and cargo space, while also getting a slightly higher predicted reliability rating.

Which Is Better: BMW X1 or Infiniti QX30?

The Infiniti QX30 costs about $4,000 less than the BMW X1. The Infiniti’s value is further supported by a nice array of standard features, lots of premium cabin materials, and a better warranty than most of its rivals. Though the QX30 is cheaper, it doesn't match the X1's performance, predicted reliability, or top-notch refinement.

Compare the X1, Q3, and GLA »

X1 Interior

How Many People Does the X1 Seat?

The X1 may be a subcompact SUV, but its seats aren't subpar. This 2-row SUV has seating for five, and there's enough acreage for a pair of adults to relax in the front or the back. Optional reclining and sliding rear seats make the second row even comfier.

X1 and Car Seats

The X1's LATCH child-seat connectors are pretty easy to find and use. Hardware includes three upper tethers and two sets of lower anchors, and there's enough room in the rear seat for two child safety seats.

X1 Interior Quality

For the most part, the X1 feels first-class inside. Craftsmanship is the same top-notch quality as other BMWs, and premium trimmings such as brushed aluminum and piano black add to its sophisticated styling. Note that synthetic leather is the standard seat upholstery. Unlike with Mercedes-Benz’s high-grade leatherette seats, not everyone is impressed with BMW's SensaTec upholstery. For a more upscale cabin, upgrade this to genuine leather.

X1 Cargo Space

The X1 has more cargo room than any other vehicle in our luxury subcompact SUV ranking. Its 27.1 cubic feet of space behind the back seat is enough room for a sizable trip to the grocery store or a weekend excursion. Fold the back seat down for a total capacity of 58.7 cubic feet. 

X1 Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The X1 features a straightforward infotainment system. Its 6.5-inch display isn't a touch screen. Instead, you use a knob between the seats to make your selections. This is one of the easier non-touch systems to use. Take your entertainment to the next level with enticing options like a Wi-Fi hot spot, a 12-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system, or Apple CarPlay. (For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay.)

Read more about interior »

X1 Performance

X1 Engine: Ample Power

Unlike many other BMWs, the X1 comes with only one powertrain option. Don't let that worry you, though, as this turbocharged four-cylinder moves the X1 quickly and easily. This engine and its eight-speed automatic transmission are polished, though the built-in stop-start system is on the coarse side.

X1 Gas Mileage: Typical for the Class

The X1 gets 23 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. That's close to the class average for subcompact SUVs.

X1 Ride and Handling: Sporty SUV

It's fun sitting behind the wheel of an X1, thanks to its responsive steering, powerful brakes, and predictable body movements. A few performance upgrades are available if you want a more athletic SUV. These include all-wheel drive, an M Sport suspension system, and performance run-flat tires.

Read more about performance »

X1 Reliability

Is the BMW X1 Reliable?

The 2018 X1 has a predicted reliability score of four out of five from J.D. Power, which is one of the highest ratings in the class.

BMW X1 Warranty

The X1's warranty isn't as comprehensive as some. BMW covers the X1 with a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty. In comparison, the Infiniti QX30 is covered by a four-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty,

Read more about reliability »

X1 Safety

X1 Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the X1 a perfect five-star overall crash test rating. That includes five stars in the side crash test and four stars in both the frontal crash and rollover tests. The X1 also aces five crash simulations conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS notes that models outfitted with available forward collision warning and automatic braking can provide an Advanced level of front crash prevention.

X1 Safety Features

For 2018, the X1 comes standard with a rearview camera and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Available safety upgrades include parking sensors, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning, a head-up display, traffic sign information, and automatic high beams.

Read more about safety »

Which BMW X1 Model Is Right for Me?

The X1 is the smallest and least expensive SUV from BMW. This subcompact crossover SUV comes in one main trim level, with a few options and packages available. The base setup is the BMW X1 sDrive – a front-wheel-drive SUV with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a starting price of $33,900. Standard features include synthetic leather upholstery, the iDrive infotainment system with a 6.5-inch screen, automatic climate control, a rearview camera, and a power liftgate.

For $2,000, you can add all-wheel drive, which changes the name to the BMW X1 xDrive28i. In addition to the xLine Design (the base design configuration), BMW also offers the M Sport Design option. This $4,650 package adds a sport-tuned suspension, sport seats, aluminum hexagon inlays, and distinct body treatments.

A half dozen other available packages offer selections like technology upgrades (including navigation and smartphone integration), premium amenities (such as a panoramic sunroof and ambient lighting), and advanced driver assistance systems.  

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local BMW dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our BMW deals page.

See 2018 BMW X1 specs and trims »

The Final Call

The X1 is BMW's small, sprightly SUV. It bridges the gap between the brand's sports sedans and its larger SUVs by sampling some athletic driving dynamics from the cars and adding in a dose of SUV utility. There are a few compromises here (including a shortage of performance and luxury upgrades), but otherwise, the X1 is a well-rounded entry in the luxury subcompact SUV segment. If you decide you can't live without the missing options, consider the BMW X3 instead.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The 2017 BMW X1 solidifies its standing as the cream of the small premium crossover crop. Even when it has front-wheel drive, there's still something about a BMW that appeals to anyone who likes driving. Engine response, a fine-tuned suspension and confidence-inspiring brakes are always part of the package. … The rest of the vehicle conforms to BMW's usual high standards, with quality materials and excellent ergonomics. And the company's iDrive infotainment system has now evolved to point where it's one of the most user-friendly setups out there." -- Autotrader (2017)
  • "The BMW X1 offers shoppers in the compact luxury crossover category an intriguing blend of performance, comfort and utility. If you're looking for something that cleverly blurs the line between a low-slung sedan and a high-riding SUV, the X1 is worth a test drive." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "BMW's 2017 X1 compact-luxury SUV … may be the company's smallest offering, but it is no less luxurious or capable than its larger X3 and X5 siblings. Blending the performance characteristics of a BMW 3 Series with the high ride height and all-wheel-drive (AWD) abilities of an SUV, the X1 is easily cross-shopped with a number of vehicles. … With available AWD and a host of modern driver-assist system, the X1 is all about safely having fun. But it's the little SUV's brutish exterior and 228-horsepower engine that BMW hopes will attract younger buyers to the family." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: August 16, 2018

Strong Sales: In 2017, the BMW X1 was the sales king in the luxury subcompact SUVclass. Even though the number of SUVs in the class has doubled in the past year, the X1's dominance remains; it's selling 8 percent better than it was by this same point in 2017.

Research more buying advice »
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