~ A DriveWays Review ~
by Frank A. Aukofer

For many buyers, there’s real appeal in little SUVs like the 2023 BMW X1 xDrive 28i. They offer the driving enjoyment of nimble handling in traffic as well as the passenger and cargo carrying capability of larger sedans.

Although it is classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a small crossover, the X1 delivers a roomy interior totaling 131 cubic feet of space, with 105 cubic feet for passengers and 26 cubic feet for cargo behind the back seat. That makes it roomier than the EPA’s definition of a large car, which has 120 or more cubic feet of interior space.

Yet the X1 measures 14 feet 9 inches long, which along with an adaptive suspension system, responsive steering and well-matched tires, enables experienced drivers to shoot holes in heavy traffic and rapidly negotiate twisting mountain roads.

Its tall profile of 5 feet 5 inches delivers a bonus. Along with the X1’s sporting personality, it is easy to enter and exit, and the up-high driving position helps deliver good visibility, especially toward the front to anticipate traffic conditions ahead.

Though the Bavarian Motor Works, based in Munich, Germany, produced a tiny, three-wheel city car called the Isetta back in the 1950s, its reputation in the United States was solidified as an exceptionally performing automobile with two or four doors over decades after the introduction of the 1600 two-door in 1967.

In this era, the BMW spinning blue and white propeller badge is synonymous with power, agility, durability and luxury ambiance. The redesigned 2023 X1 xDrive 28i follows in that tradition with a 241 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that delivers 295 pound-feet of torque, or twisting force, that enables zero to 60 miles an hour sprints in a whiff more than five seconds. Top speed, according to BMW, is 149 miles an hour.

The power makes its way to all four wheels—all-wheel drive is standard—by way of a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which incorporates clutches poised to shift instantly at optimum power points.

That’s not bad for a diminutive crossover that weighs less than two tons. But it doesn’t come cheap. The X1 tested for this review came with a base price of $39,795 and, as tested, a bottom-line sticker of $47,145. That’s likely out of reach for some buyers but actually is close to the current average price of a new car in the United States.

The X1 comes with all of the government-required life-saving equipment, along with others that included automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning and blind-spot monitoring. The tester also was equipped with adaptive cruise control and vehicle lane-centering, as well as multi-zone climate control and SXM satellite radio.

A $4,200 optional Premium package added, among others, auto-dimming inside and outside mirrors, keyless entry, Eucalyptus wood interior trim, parking assistance system, head-up display, wireless smart phone and other devices charging, surround 3D camera view and premium Harman Kardon audio.

BMW incorporated its newest iDrive infotainment system into the X1. It is housed in a single dashboard section that serves as an infotainment screen and instruments display. A navigation system is part of the standard equipment, along with Apple Car Play and Android Auto.

Besides the all-digital dashboard, the new X1 offers automatic transmission shifting with a small, console mounted toggle switch that is intuitive, easy to use without looking at it. The interior also features a floating center console with underneath storage, designer speaker grilles, and ambient lighting. Access to the carpeted and nicely finished cargo area is through a power lift gate.

On the road, the tested X1 delivered what has become a typical BMW driving experience: a responsive throttle, no-fuss braking, good steering feedback, a decent ride, though somewhat unsettled over rough terrain, mostly quiet cruising except under hard acceleration, and overall a confident feeling of control.

For many years, BMW has touted each and every one of its products as “the ultimate driving machine.” That’s heady stuff, but all models, despite differences in purpose, share some of BMW’s performance attributes.

Because the 2023 X1 xDrive28i offers the practicality of an SUV, it doesn’t have the driving chops of some of the company’s M-badged high-zoot vehicles (an M version of the X1 reportedly is in the works). But like some competitors—the Porsche Macan, for example—it easily impresses aficionados as a sports car masquerading as a small crossover sport ute.


  • Model: 2023 BMW X1 xDrive 28i four-door crossover sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged; 241 hp, 295 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic with all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 14 feet 9 inches.
  • Height: 5 feet 5 inches.
  • EPA/SAE passenger/cargo volume: 105/26 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 3,762 pounds.
  • Towing capability: 3,700 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 25/34/28 mpg. Premium gasoline recommended.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $39,795.
  • Price as tested: $47,145.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review. Photos ©BMW