Whether you insist on calling them sports activity vehicles or just SUVs like the rest of us, BMW truly has the bases covered when it comes to utes of all shapes and sizes. But it’s always the entry-level SUVs that are the hardest to get just right. So let’s see how the folks from Bavaria did with the all-new, third-generation, BMW X1.

This 2023 BMW X1 is just one of the many small luxury-minded crossovers available today, many of which even pack a healthy dose of performance into their tidy dimensions. So, where does the X1 fit in? Well, BMW has been very successful at transferring the feel of their highly regarded sport sedans into SUV form, including for the compact X1. This 3rd gen X1 builds upon that by becoming more spacious inside, packing flagship levels of tech, and of course with a healthy dose of performance.

Just about everybody builds a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder these days, but few do it as well as BMW. Their latest here in the X1 delivers 241-horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque, an increase of 13-horsepower and 37 lb-ft. over last year. Attached to the business end of that engine is a new 7-speed dual-clutch transmission that replaces the previous 8-speed automatic.

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The X1 remains front-wheel-drive based, which means very little to most buyers, as xDrive all-wheel-drive is actually now standard. Though the front-wheel-drive architecture does give it a slightly different feel than other BMWs with AWD. With the optional 19-inch wheels, the ride can be a little stiff at times, but as you can imagine, handling is impressive, feeling more like an all-wheel-drive 3 series through our handling course than a typical utility.

It was nimble, stable, and steady through the cones with surprisingly great steering feel to manage it all. In straight-line testing, there was a little turbo lag, but once rolling it builds speed quickly, with 60 miles-per-hour achieved in in 5.7-seconds. The DCT likes to hold onto gears, keeping them in the power band as long as possible before smoothly engaging the next one. Best ¼-mile time was 14.4-seconds at 98 miles-per-hour. The brakes were consistent and strong, stopping us from 60 in a 109-foot average, with very little nosedive and minimal ABS pulsing in the pedal.

It certainly looks part of the BMW family outside; we wouldn’t call it rugged, though the squared-off kidney grille and heavy use of black trim give it a bolder vibe. Every exterior dimension has increased over last year. And that certainly delivers an airier, feel inside. Its more modern too as it’s strictly touchscreen now, with no central controller for iDrive 8, and some other physical controls lost in the exchange. I guess we’re mostly fine with such progress, as the curved display looks fantastic and works well.

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They’ve truly maximized the space inside the X1, and there are great materials for this price point. Front seat cushions are also much more comfortable now, with a surprising amount of room for adults both front and rear. Cargo capacity is good; 25.7 cubic-ft., and with the 40/20/40 split seatbacks folded down, a max of 57.2 cubic-ft.

Currently available in a single xDrive28i model, pricing starts reasonably low for a German luxury brand SUV at $40,095, but you can easily add a lot more to your bottom line, with our tester coming in over $47,000.

We love the additional power and space, along with the plentiful new features that BMW has packed into the 2023 X1, even if progress makes it a tad less user-friendly. But there’s no denying, the X1 still manages to deliver a sizable dose of the BMW experience in a spacious and comfortable package at an entry-level price. BMW has embraced SUVs just like everyone else but continues to build them in the superior way that only they can.


  • Engine: 2.0-liter turbo-4
  • Horsepower: 241
  • 0-60 mph: 5.7 seconds
  • 60-0 Braking: 109 feet (avg)
  • Transmission: 7-speed DCT
  • Torque: 295 lb-ft.
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.4-seconds at 98 mph