The 2021 BMW X1 starts at $35,400 before freight and delivery charges in the United States, and at $42,275 in Canada.
Good versatility and cargo space, appreciable fit and finish, low fuel consumption.
Rough stop/start system, no performance variant, Android Auto integration still not supported.
The 2021 BMW X1 soldiers on as the German brand’s entry-level crossover, and receives minimal changes after a mid-cycle update for the 2020 model year.
The X1 is BMW’s subcompact model that caters to small families and empty nesters, while its lineup is actually pretty slim, with only one trim level and a choice between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive in the United States. Meanwhile, the Canadian market gets AWD as standard.
Under the hood, the 2021 BMW X1 features a turbocharged, 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that develops 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, managed by an eight-speed automatic transmission. By comparison, it’s pretty much in line with what the competition offers, such as the Audi Q3, the Mercedes-Benz GLA and GLB, the Cadillac XT4, the Jaguar E-PACE and the Volvo XC40, which are all equipped with turbo 2.0L fours and outputs reaching up to 250 horsepower. We can also include the Lexus UX as an adversary, with its naturally aspirated and hybrid powertrains.
The X1’s all-wheel drive system favours the front wheels under normal driving conditions, but can quickly feed power to the rear wheels when the front ones start to slip, and during acceleration or cornering. With it, the xDrive28i variant delivers city/highway/combined fuel economy ratings of 23/31/26 mpg in the United States, 10.3/7.7/9.1 in Canada, while the front-drive sDrive28i nets 24/33/27 mpg.
The 2021 BMW X1 can be dressed up with the basic xLine package or the M Sport package, which adds unique 18-inch alloy wheels, more aggressive front and rear bumpers as well as Shadowline (read: dark) exterior trim. There are a few changes to the paint colour palette for 2021, with five hues deleted and two new colours added. Inside, Sensatec simulated leather is standard and Dakota Leather is available, the latter adding a touch of luxury with three different colours. Woodgrain, genuine wood and aluminum trimmings are offered to spice up the cabin as well.
Standard features include park sonar, power-adjustable front seats, automatic climate control, lane departure warning, emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams and an iDrive infotainment system with 8.8-inch screen and navigation.
On the optional equipment list, we find adaptive cruise control, a power tailgate (standard in the U.S.), sport seats, a reclining and sliding rear bench seat, adaptive LED headlights, wireless phone charging, heated front seats (standard in Canada) and steering wheel as well as a Harman/Kardon sound system. Option packages can also add a panoramic sunroof, ambient lighting and head-up display. With the M Sport package, 19-inch wheels with summer performance tires are also available. This year, the 2021 BMW X1 adds SiriusXM satellite radio with a one-year subscription as standard, which was previously bundled in various option packages.
Pricing ranges from $35,400 before freight and delivery charges for the 2021 BMW X1 sDrive28i in the U.S., while the xDrive28i variant is listed at $37,400. In Canada, the X1 xDrive28i goes for $42,275 and up.
What the 2021 BMW X1 Does Well
- The X1 feels bigger than it really is. There’s sufficient passenger space front and back, including class-leading front-seat headroom, and the cargo area is rated at 27.7 cubic feet or 767 litres with the rear seatbacks in place, or a maximum of 58.7 cubic feet or 1,662 litres with the rear seat folded down—surpassed only by the GLB.
- The 2021 BMW X1 is more efficient than all the aforementioned rivals except the new-generation Benz GLA 250 and the UX.
- It may be the entry-level BMW utility vehicle, but the X1’s fit and finish is pretty good.
- The iDrive infotainment system is easy to use while driving, thanks to the multifunction knob located on the centre console.
- The 2021 BMW is competitively priced, even though some rivals offer more affordable base trims. But for the list of standard features we get with the X1, it’s definitely in the game.
What the 2021 BMW X1 Doesn’t Do Well
- Not that it ultimately matters, but the X1 lacks a performance variant that can be found at the local Mercedes-Benz dealer, in the form of the 302-horsepower, AMG GLA 35 and GLB 35, and even the 382-hp GLA 45. There is the 301-hp BMW X2 M35i, which is a sportier, coupe-like counterpart of the X1.
- Although the 2021 BMW X1 is efficient, a fully electric XC40 will hit the market in a few months. The BMW doesn’t offer a plug-in hybrid or fully electric powertrain option in North America for the time being.
- Apple CarPlay integration is standard, but Android Auto users are still left in the dark.
- Automatic stop/start systems are handy at saving a few drops of fuel at stoplights and when we’re immobilized for short periods of time. However, the X1’s system—and this is the case with many other of the brand’s smaller products—is rough and unrefined.
What We Tell Our Friends
The 2021 BMW X1 scores in the subcompact luxury crossover category for its versatility, competitive price and low fuel consumption. It feels solid and isn’t stuck with a certain “cheapness” that we frequently see in entry-level premium brand models. On the other hand, aside from an M Sport appearance package, the X1 doesn’t offer any performance upgrades, an area that German rival Mercedes-Benz has well covered with its AMG variants.