2013 BMW X1 XDrive35i Review

May 2, 2013
2013 BMW X1 XDrive35i
2013 BMW X1 XDrive35i 2BMW-X1_in-snow 3BMW-X1_front
Cargo Capacity
Passenger Count
Fuel Economy
Off-Road Capability
Power & Handling

The Good

  • Nimble handling
  • All-wheel drive
  • Head-snapping acceleration
  • Good traction on snow/ice
  • High-quality interior

The Bad

  • Base model is $40k
  • Tight rear seats
  • Not off-road ready
  • Tight cargo room
  • Interior is too nice

The 2013 BMW X1 xDrive35i is a 6-cyl. driving machine that that shines on snow, ice, hairpin turns, and high-speed mountain passes like a sports car—what you’d expect in any $40k-plus car. Better bet: go with the less expensive turbo 4-cyl. and skip the overpriced options and save ten grand.


Thanks to the car’s small footprint, the X1 handles superbly—it was easily the best handling SUV that I’ve ever steered. From the front seat to the feel of the steering wheel, the X1 felt like it was built around the driver. The 300-horsepower turbo engine blasted up Colorado’s 11,991-foot Loveland Pass on snow-packed roads and whipped around a gasoline tanker moaning up the 9-percent grades. BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system and traction control kept the car in line and moving where I wanted it to go despite wearing all-season tires, not snow tires.

By the time I got to the parking lot at Arapahoe Basin, I honestly didn’t want to leave the X1 and go boarding. I would’ve been content to go back and forth over the pass a few more times instead.

That wouldn’t have helped my fuel economy, but with an EPA of 18 hwy/27 city, the X1 is not a fuel sipper by design, especially not the 6-cyl. In city driving especially, the mpg’s plummeted into the high teens.

Cargo & People Room
While this 4-door BMW is a driver’s delight, the fun doesn’t necessarily transfer to passengers. The taut suspension feels rough. The rear seats? I couldn’t even get my legs behind the driver’s seat when trying to sit in them (I’m 6’2”). The cargo space can hold a full-sized dog or a couple of big backpacks (or golf bags), but it’s better to think of the X1’s capacity as comparable to a small wagon, not other SUVs.

With the rear seats folded down, you can fit a mountain bike in the back if you take the front wheel off. With some wrangling, you could fit two inside although you may have to remove the seat/seatpost from one rig.

Snowboards will be fine as well, but for skis and anything longer, you’re better served by installing a roof rack and throwing them up top—no, check that—the interior of the X1 is so nice that you should throw all your toys up on the roof so as not to dirty the carpet or scratch the surfaces.

Among the luxury SUVs out there, the X1 comes across as tiny—and relatively affordable—for what you get (assuming you go with the smaller 4 cyl., 240-horsepower engine model that starts at $32,500). My review vehicle was a top-of-the-line model with a 3.0-liter, 300-horsepower 6-cylinder with every option and a sticker price of $48,395.

While I enjoyed the bigger engine, it wasn’t what sold me on the vehicle. Its handling did. It’s a car that truly makes the journey to the first chair on a powder day or sunrise trek to the trailhead/beach as much fun as the destination. If it only had the interior utility to bring all my friends and gear in equal comfort and ease, it would be perfect.


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