2023 BMW X1 Review

2023 BMW X1 - All new for 2023, the BMW X1 finally earns its BMW cred -- and shows BMW cares about its passengers.


Redesigned for 2023, the X1 is BMW's second-smallest crossover. Considered a subcompact, the 5-passenger, 4-door wagon comes standard with all-wheel drive and shares a platform with the slightly smaller X2 coupe/crossover. For 2023, the X1 gets taller and longer, freshened front and rear styling, a more-powerful engine, and a completely new interior with enhanced technology features. Competitors include Audi Q3, Cadillac XT4, Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Lexus NX, Lincoln Corsair, Mercedes-Benz GLB, and Volvo XC40.

For 2023, the BMW X1 is only offered in xDrive28i trim. Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 241 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Sole transmission is a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. Towing capacity is 3,500 pounds.

Standard safety features include forward-collision warning with brake intervention, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic warning, lane-departure warning and front and rear parking sensors. Other key standard equipment includes 18-inch wheels, power liftgate, digital instrument panel, dual-zone climate control, navigation system, 10.7-inch touchscreen with navigation and wireless support for Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Optional packages abound and is one way BMW keeps base price down to a reasonable $39,000.

X1 gets a big boost, quite literally for 2023 with a more-powerful turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. Not a scorcher, but certainly more powerful than most other offerings in the class, the new engine will push the X1 from 0 to 60 MPH in less than 6 seconds. In addition, it offers plenty of passing punch and isn't frightened by adding a few passengers or cargo.

For the most part, the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic shifts quickly and smoothly. However, in all but sport mode, it quickly upshifts into higher gears to save gas. This leads to a sleepy feeling and sometimes catches drivers flat-footed in cut-and-thrust urban driving.

Unlike most other BMW models, the X1 is a front-drive-biased all-wheel-drive vehicle. This means that power first goes forward and then, when the fronts begin to slip, it's routed rearward. This certainly makes for a more secure driving feeling but isn't the best for off-road slogging or performance driving. Still, the X1's AWD system provides enough traction for on-road and trail driving.

EPA numbers for the X1 are 25 MPG city, 34 MPG highway, and 28 MPG combined. On face value those numbers trail most others in the class. However, competitors lack BMW's powerful engine and real-word numbers put the X1 much closer to the competition. In routine suburban driving, it's easy to average 30 MPG overall and 35 MPG on the highway. Though the fuel tank is only 14.3 gallons, it can provide about 400 miles of highway range. Like most vehicles in this class, premium-grade fuel is required.

When it was introduced to the US market in 2012, the X1 took some flack for being front-drive biased and for its milquetoast handling characteristics. That chances for 2023. Though the X1 is still pushes power forward first, the handling characteristics are much more neutral and the X1 feels much more sporty from behind the driver's wheel. In fact, thanks for a firm suspension, crisp steering and strong brakes, it might be the most fun to drive in its class.

Once underway, passengers are definitely going to feel the firm ride, however. Mind you, it's not overly busy, but certainly not pillowy soft like in the Lexus or Cadillac. Throw in the M Sport package and summer tires and the ride stiffens up further. Long story short, drive the exact model you plan to buy.

Interior noise levels are significantly lower than in the previous model and on par with the competition. The engine makes an expensive growl in hard acceleration, but cruises quietly.

For most buyers, inside is where they will see the biggest changes compared to the 2022 X1. Gone are the iDrive controller and hard-plastic bits. In comes a large touchscreen and handsome upgraded materials. Overall, the effect is modern, tasteful and, dare I say, functional. Another refreshing change is the absence of buttons and knobs. While BMW is known for button overload, the X1 interior is refreshingly clean.

The front seats are quite supportive and provide ample adjustment. They are also firm and get only firmer on M Sport models. The result is that the seats hold you firmly on twisty roads but can grow tiresome on longer trips. At least head and leg room are great up front. In addition, the wide doors and modest ride height make for easy entry/exit and the tall greenhouse and thin roof pillars provide excellent outward visibility. The rear seats are roomy for the class, but still very short on leg and knee space.

On the tech front, it's hard to find a feature that isn't at least offered on the X1. The new infotainment system is called iDrive in name only and its worlds better than the old system. Yes, you have to touch through menus to change the radio station and adjust the climate control, but operation is fairly intuitive and certainly better than in previous editions. The wireless Android Auto and Apple Car Play are a plus and there are lots of USB ports throughout. There's even adjustable lighting and an awesome available Harmon Kardon audio system.

Despite being larger on the outside, cargo capacity shrinks a bit. That's OK because the X1 had more room than most competitors already. Seats up there's an impressive 26 cubic feet and seats down that number grows to a midsize-like 57 cubic feet. Unlike other BMW models, interior storage abounds. Cubholders are large, there spaces under the center console for large-item storage, and the wireless charger is perfectly located and sized for just about any phone.

Bottom Line -- The new BMW X1 is impressive, dare I say one of the most overall competitive BMW offerings to date. It's finally a complete package, offering sporting handling, plenty of power, good interior room, class-leading tech and an upscale and functional interior. The downsides include the firm ride and massive option list. The sub-$40k sticker is more a starting point than an ending point, but shop wisely and you can get out the door for around $45k.

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.