Best forFamilies of three or four looking for a luxury crossover SUV.
Top BenefitsAccident-avoidance safety features are standard, quality materials, great manoeuvrability on the road
ConsiderationsSome strollers may not fit in rear cargo area, premium gasoline is recommended
Bottom lineThe BMW X1 xDrive28i offers a comfortable ride, with intuitive safety, entertainment and driving features. Plus, it’s quiet on the road and offers the driver classic BMW styling that’s associated with the luxury brand
When your family begins to grow from two to three or more, and your current vehicle isn’t offering you the space or flexibility you need, a crossover SUV is a great way to move into a larger vehicle without sacrificing a sedan-like driving experience. Our editors and parent testers spent some time behind the wheel of a BMW X1 xDrive28i and they reported the X1 was standout in areas like safety, technology, car seat installation and value. Our testers were particularly impressed with some hidden gems, like the heads-up display on the windshield and how natural the driver’s hands felt controlling the steering wheel.
Parent testers spent up to a week with the X1 doing family stuff: going to the grocery store, dropping kids off at school and making trips to see family. It’s safe to say they put this crossover SUV through the gauntlet.
The X1 comes equipped with BMW’s xDrive full-time all-wheel drive system. Like all-wheel drive systems in other vehicles, it will redistribute power to wheels if it detects spin but it also will redistribute power if it feels the vehicle is about to enter oversteer or understeer. BMW’s xDrive will balance power to the wheels in this situation to keep you going the direction you intended. Other standard safety features include a rear-view camera—helpful when backing into a spot at the mall or parallel parking on a street—two stage braking, automatic braking after a collision that keeps the brakes engaged until the X1 is no longer moving and attentiveness assistant that monitors the driver’s behaviour for signs of fatigue and suggests when to take a break.
Testers told us they were impressed with the safety features that are part of an optional Driving Assistant package. One parent felt especially comfortable behind the wheel of the X1 thanks to these safety assist features, which help keep you from having an accident or hitting a child if they run out in front of you. Person warning with city light braking and cross traffic warning in the rear will stop the X1 if it detects a person crossing in front of the vehicle or someone or something cross behind while backing up. Other optional safety equipment included was active cruise control, approach control warning that gives you both an optical and audible warning if you approach the vehicle in front of you too quickly, lane departure warning and rear collision detection.
It’s also worth noting that all BMWs come equipped with shatter glass protection, which prevents glass from raining down if your windows or windshield are cracked or smashed—either in a car accident or if someone’s trying to break into your car.
Our editors and testers said sitting in the front seats of the BMW X1 was comfortable. The seats seemed infinitely adjustable, both forward and backward, up and down, and the seatback reclines for a variety of positions and plenty of legroom. One tester liked how the seats felt like they were hugging them and gave them a more secure feeling while they were behind the wheel. Reaching for different controls on the dashboard was easy and intuitive; there’s comfort in being able to reach media and heating and cooling controls without having to take your eyes off the road.
The rear seats sacrifice a bit of legroom in order to give those in the front seats the ability to stretch their legs, but you can comfortably move the front seats forward when adults are riding in the back so that everyone has more equitable room. As for kids, there’s plenty of room for two car seats or booster seats.
One of the charms of the X1 is its compact size. Our editors were able to fit a full-size stroller (an UppaBaby Vista) in the rear cargo space, though there wasn’t much room for anything else. Double and jogging strollers are simply too big to fit. They also noted the floor of the cargo area is at a comfortable height for sliding things in and out.
Each of the rear seats fold down individually which makes folding down just the middle portion to put longer items in while still being able to seat two rear passengers handy. As with most SUVs, you can open the rear liftgate with the keyfob, but if you opt for the Premium Package Enhanced, you'll also get a liftgate button to the left of the steering wheel, too. Our editors noted that this would be quite handy when picking up your kids from hockey—you could easily load gear in all without mom or dad leaving the driver’s seat.
The X1 delivers 7.4 L per 100 km on the highway and 10.5 L per 100 km in the city. Because it features always-on all-wheel drive, it’s going to use a bit more fuel than other vehicles in the segment that are just front-wheel drive. You should also keep in mind that this is a BMW after all, and like most German-made automobiles, it requires premium gasoline.
Both our editors and testers were pleased with how comfortable the X1 was to drive. Driving the BMW X1 is a treat. On the road, the X1 handles itself well, and making u-turns and three-point turns is a snap thanks to its ability to turn in a small circle. One family, who is familiar with other BMW vehicles, noted how smooth the ride is, and another said there’d be no worry of a baby being woken up due to bumps or jostling.
One of our testers said the rear camera and auto adjusting passenger side mirror is of particular delight. It was unanimously agreed the heads-up display on the windshield displaying the speedometer and GPS navigation made driving more enjoyable and safer as it led to more eye time on the road and less looking at the dash for information. The X1 (fitted with the optional Driver Assistance package) also lets you know if you’re going over the speed limit with both a visual and audible alert, and will warn you if your speed is in such excess it would be both prudent and safe to slow down.
The X1 comes with blindspot detection with the Driver Assistant package, and warning lights on the side-view mirrors blink on when a vehicle is in your blindspot—especially helpful when driving in fast moving traffic. And while the BMW X1’s blindspot is minimal to begin with, our editors found the blindspot detection feature made changing lanes and merging onto the highway a breeze. (Wondering how we measure the blind spot? With one person sitting in the driver’s seat, another person stands behind the vehicle with their hand held out, moving out to the side until the driver can see the hand in the review mirror.)The X1 comes with blindspot detection with the Driver Assistant package, and warning lights on the side-view mirrors blink on when a vehicle is in your blindspot—especially helpful when driving in fast moving traffic. And while the BMW X1’s blindspot is minimal to begin with, our editors found the blindspot detection feature made changing lanes and merging onto the highway a breeze. (Wondering how we measure the blind spot? With one person sitting in the driver’s seat, another person stands behind the vehicle with their hand held out, moving out to the side until the driver can see the hand in the review mirror.)
Installing a convertible car seat in a crossover SUV is going to come with its challenges. Because of their compact size, there isn’t lots of room to manoeuvre during the installation, so it’s going to be tricky in any of them. Our editors found that the rear doors don’t open wide enough for a car seat to be put in the back without tilting or rotating it. The X1 offers two sets of ISOFIX anchors for UAS/LATCH installation and three tethers for forward-facing car seat installation. The anchors are easy to get, so you won’t have to dig around like you’re looking for buried treasure. One parent tester said they had to move the front seats forward a little to accommodate their car seat, but not so much that it made their seating position uncomfortable. It’s also worth noting some car seats and automobiles are simply incompatible. If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, make sure to bring your car seat along and try installing it before you buy.
BMW has a reputation for designing clean and minimalistic interiors. Interior material is a choice of leatherette or Dakota leather. Our editors noted the surfaces seemed like they would be easy to wipe down after a spill and felt durable, and unlikely to rip or tear easily. After a week of driving with a car seat installed, one tester reported they couldn’t tell when removing the seat because there weren’t any marks and the seat cushion returned to its normal shape. That said, a car seat installed for a prolonged period of time could potentially leave a mark on the seat.
All of our testers agreed the X1 is a quiet car. And it’s no surprise, the BMW X1 is designed with sound-dampening materials. While driving both the engine and noise from traffic where minimal and children were able to nap easily while on the road.
Listening to music and using a smart phone to connect to the entertainment system in any vehicle needs to be simple. Our testers say they found navigating the audio for both radio and streaming from their smartphones to be easy but there were some challenges connecting and syncing devices. But once they were up and running our testers said they liked the mix of both touchscreen and actual buttons to navigate the entertainment system. This vehicle’s entertainment system also features connectivity for Apple CarPlay, so you can access music, messages and apps through your vehicle’s dash.
It’s tough for a vehicle manufacturer to compete with Google Maps for navigation, but the X1’s map is intuitive and detailed. Plus, our editors liked that the voice command could display current weather information and the location of points of interest, like the nearest gas station (super helpful!). The voice command feature of the BMW X1 also understands colloquial language, so there’s no need to memorize a pre-set list of commands, freeing up space in your mind for things like doctor’s appointments and upcoming meetings.
BMW is a premium brand, and as such you might expect a starting price to match, but our testers found the X1 offers good value at its base price of $40,600. In particular, testers said it’s the safety features—along with how much fun the X1 is to drive—that add value. While adding features on to base model is going to up the price tag, our testers were still impressed with the overall value the X1 offers.
The BMW X1 xDrive28i impressed our editors and parent testers—everyone felt it’s a good option for a growing family. Parents gave it very good to good ratings for quality, ease of use and value. They loved the materials used for the seating and dashboard, and the quiet drive. Our testers loved the technology that was included. All of our parent testers felt that the BMW X1 xDrive28i is worthy of the Today’s Parent Approved seal, and our editors agree. None of them would hesitate recommending this vehicle to other families.
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