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The redesigned 2016 BMW X1's greatest accomplishment might be looking pretty much like a crossover. To many observers, the previous model's weakest point was a distinct resemblance to a hatchback. By contrast, the new X1 emphasizes added height—it's almost two inches taller—with styling tricks like the placement of headlights and taillights in the top corners of the front and rear fascias. An extra inch of width and a track that's two inches wider also give the X1 a more aggressive stance.
The BMW X1 comes in just one trim level this year—xDrive 28i—and a single all-wheel drive powertrain with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4. It makes 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, and is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission that has three drive modes and paddle shifters. According to BMW, it will accelerate to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds.
New exterior design addresses this criticism with an emphasis on height—the 2016 BMW X1 is almost 2 inches taller. The X1 also gains a more aggressive stance with an extra inch in width and a track that's two inches wider. It works: You no longer have to squint optimistically to see a compact crossover in an X1's lines. Headlights and taillights set high in the corners of the front and rear fascias only add to the effect.
The interior has a smart look, with seat design that would be at home in a much more expensive car. Dashboard styling is au courant, particularly with an optional, 8.8-inch touchscreen mounted atop a center console that's festooned with much-appreciated buttons for audio and climate systems.
The fact that the X1 barely qualifies as a crossover works in the favor of its on-road performance. Simply put, it's fun to drive. Electric speed-sensitive steering is quick and communicative, braking is good, and you can hustle the X1 through corners at un-crossover-like speeds. We found that the transmission stubbornly resists downshifting during uphill acceleration from low speeds with moderate throttle, but flipping into sport mode solves that problem.
A test drive along mountain roads beset by detritus from a series of landslides gave the X1 a chance to demonstrate its SUV-lite capabilities. Good ground clearance proved especially useful in this approximation of real-world obstacles an X1 owner might actually encounter. We did lose traction, though, in a few gravel-strewn apexes taken at speeds that seemed reasonable, and this somewhat diminished our confidence.
The 2016 BMW X1 is built to an aggressive price, and while none of the interior materials looks or feels cheap, some look and feel cheaper than you might expect in a premium vehicle. Sophisticated seat design and color combinations, however, have a decidedly premium vibe. We were impressed by the matte-finish wood trim and contrasting stitching in our test car.
There's plenty of head room all around, and surprisingly generous leg room for rear passengers. This is especially true with an optional sliding/reclining 40/20/40 seat that offers up to 5 inches of travel. Width is, however, in somewhat short supply and three adults won't want to spend much time in back.
Cargo space of 27.1 cubic feet is 3 cubic feet more than the outgoing X1. With the rear seat folded, you get 58.7 cubic feet. It's an improvement, obviously, and better than an Audi Q3 or Range Rover Evoque, but still far short of the room you'd get in a mainstream crossover like the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4.
*This vehicle is Certified Pre-Owned and is eligible for our third party warranty program.