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2016 BMW X1 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 BMW X1 was new.


Performance: 8.4

The redesigned 2016 BMW X1 impresses automotive writers with hearty acceleration and generous power. They add that the X1 handles well, is easily maneuverable and has responsive steering. A few critics say the transmission is hesitant to downshift and diminishes engine performance, though others say it shifts smoothly. The X1 gets average fuel economy for the class.

  • "In short, the X1 is more than qualified to maneuver around a Whole Foods parking lot. And if that parking lot becomes partially blocked by a rock slide in some Michael Bay film scenario, the X1 will likely solve that with little effort." -- AutoWeek
  • "It's also exceptionally quiet, and delivers super-smooth gearshifts from its standard eight-speed automatic transmission." -- Edmunds
  • "This is no sports car -- despite its dynamic feel -- but returned what felt like good performance for this class." -- CNET

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 X1 comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 228 horsepower. An eight-speed automatic transmission is also standard. The X1 gets an EPA-estimated 22/32 mpg city/highway, which is average for the class.

Test drivers say the engine provides good power, eager acceleration and handles passing maneuvers with ease, all while remaining smooth and quiet. Some reviewers think the transmission works well with the engine, but others say it hesitates to downshift and somewhat dampens engine performance. Critics appreciate the three selectable driving modes, which can be changed to deliver vehicle performance best suited to your taste.

  • "The transmission is perfectly fine but not a standout. Shifts come smoothly enough, but it can take some prodding to coax a downshift, less so in sport mode. … We only drove the car with the standard transmission. The four-cylinder is smooth and delivers its power with few hints that it's turbocharged. It doesn't matter how it's situated, BMW always builds a nice engine." -- Autoblog
  • "The X1 also is quieter than before, there is less ride harshness, and the 2.0-liter turbo four hums along happily. … Among turbo fours, we think BMW's new B48 engine is one of the smoothest around, and it works harmoniously with the new gearbox." -- Car and Driver
  • "Acceleration was brisk, enabling us to pass the little traffic we encountered along our way without even making the engine breathe hard." -- Left Lane News
  • "The engine delivers its power smoothly and enthusiastically, a characteristic you'll appreciate with a fully loaded X1. In typical driving, this BMW delivers above-average refinement that makes it an excellent highway machine." -- Edmunds
  • "The new mill feels even more responsive than the one that won me over in 2013; the new eight-speed automatic transmission, on the other hand, somewhat dulls the fun. Fortunately, there are Sport drive mode settings that put the entire powertrain on edge and allow the engine to shine. (There's also an Eco Pro setting that does the opposite, smoothing out acceleration for improved efficiency.)" -- CNET

Handling and Braking

All-wheel drive is standard on the 2016 X1. The turning radius is small, test drivers report, making the X1 maneuverable in tight quarters. They note that the steering has a responsive feel, and some think the vehicle is fun to drive on windy roads. A few critics find the ride a bit stiff. They also say that the X1 handles inclement weather with ease and is capable of doing some light off-roading.

  • "The good turning radius of the X1 also comes into play when it came time for some close-quarters maneuvering, with the steering providing just the right amount of feel on and off the road." -- AutoWeek
  • "For the first few miles, the tossable chassis and new xDrive all-wheel drive system (a standard feature) made short work of the gravel and stones layered over the asphalt, keeping the nose pointed where steered, applying a bit of torque vectoring to rotate the chassis around bends and generally helping the vehicle to feel more controlled." -- CNET
  • "We wish the ride was a bit more forgiving, as this X1 can be jittery over sharper bumps. The trade-off is an X1 that also feels very confident through curves. More enthusiastic drivers will find it responsive enough to provide an entertaining drive on twisting roads. Precise, low-effort steering helps, too (it's weightier in Sport mode, which some will prefer), although the sensation of its electrical power assistance occasionally feels slightly odd." -- Edmunds
  • "On the other hand, the X1 performs surprisingly well off-road. It'll go up inclines you wouldn't dream about tackling with a car of this type, and it should have no trouble reaching a cabin at the end of a muddy trail or dealing with a tough winter." -- Car and Driver

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