You could be forgiven for mistaking the 2023 BMW X1 for the 2003 X3.
After all, it’s nearly as large, measuring a mere 2.7 inches shorter riding on a four-inch shorter wheelbase. It’s the same width and 1.3 inches shorter. It weighs 295 pounds less, but carries 8 cubic feet more of stuff. And it has an additional 9 horsepower and 74 foot-pounds or torque. Who says life isn’t getting better?
Yet its popularity is far outshined by the larger X3, which has grown in size and price. Perhaps its popularity declined with the debut of the second generation in 2016. It’s then that the 3 Series platform was traded for that used for the Mini Countryman, rendering it front-wheel-biased, not rear-wheel-drive biased.
But the X1 merits a fresh look for 2023, as it gets a redesign that proves very worthwhile as it goes into battle against the Mercedes-Benz GLA and GLB, Audi Q3, as well as the Cadillac XT4, Lexus UX, Lincoln Corsair and Volvo XC40.
Looking much like an X3 that was left in the dryer too long, the X1 returns with a more handsome look, and a squared-off double kidney grille, a look that’s seen on the new M240 as well. It certainly lends the trucklet a look that renders it safe for those with Y-Chromosomes.
Lighting is fully LED, as you might expect. Still, it looks noticeably larger than the 2022 model, growing by 1.7 inches in length to 177.2, 0.9 inches in width to 72.6 inches, and 1.7 inches in height to 64.6 inches. The added size can be felt inside, where there now seems to be enough room for five adults — if they’re really good friends. As you might expect, the rear seats are split 40/20/40 for added cargo/people flexibility.
Eighteen-inch wheels are standard, 19- and 20-inch wheels are optional.
An M Sport Package is optional, which adds an adaptive M suspension, unique wheels and exterior tweaks, an M leather steering wheel with transmission shift paddles, sport seats and aluminum trim. All 2023 X1s get a mobile phone tray in the center console next to a new toggle-style gear selector. Ambient lighting, dual automatic climate control and a power liftgate are standard. Look around, and you’ll find the instrument panel is fresh and modern. But before we get to that, a word about what’s under the hood.
Given this model’s meager sales in the last couple years, it’s no surprise that it’s being offered for 2023 in one configuration, as the X1 xDrive28i with standard all-wheel drive. Power comes from a Miller Cycle 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine rated at 241 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque that whisks you to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds with the help of a 7-speed dual clutch transmission.
The EPA rates the 2023 BMW X1 at 25 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 28 mpg in combined driving.
Thoughtfully, when equipped with the M Sport Package, like the test vehicle, the left shift paddle has a Sport Boost function. Pulling it for at least one second, maximizes the powertrain and chassis settings to their sportiest response for quickest acceleration.
Standard driver assistance systems include front-collision warning system with brake intervention, Collision Warning, pedestrian and cyclist warning with braking function, Blind Spot Detection, Steering and Lane Control Assistant, and Active Cruise Control with Stop and Go functionality. My favorite feature is the Traffic Jam Assistant, which provides hands-free driving at speeds up to 40 mph on interstates.
More diabolical is the optional automatic Speed Limit Assist, which notes the speed limits along your route and adjusts the car accordingly. Other options include Active Park Distance Control and Parking Assistant Plus with Drive Recorder.
You have to love when cutting-edge technology trickles down to an entry-level vehicle. Such is the case with the 2023 X1, which features BMW‘s new Curved Display, a massive horizontal sheet of frameless glass behind which resides a 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.7-inch multimedia screen running on iDrive 8.
The bright, crisp high-resolution graphics are easy to read, even in bright sunlight, and the screen’s large size on a curved display make it easy to reach. The optional audio system proved very good; Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come standard.
Considering its size, the engine seems larger that it is. Engine growl is evident but distant, enough to be noticed, but not enough to be bothersome. The dual clutch gearbox works well in manual mode, remaining in the gear you select via steering-wheel-mounted shift panels.
Interestingly, despite no longer being rear-wheel-drive-based, its front-wheel-drive understeer isn’t readily apparent. Noise is moderate at worst, body lean modest. Ride is surprisingly absorbent, although sharp bumps can crash through. It’s an easy car to drive smoothly despite being a subcompact crossover, with a level of refinement unknown in previous X1s.
The cabin is a huge improvement as well, and no longer seems archaic thanks to the large curved display, which imparts a modern feel, not to mention a horizontal orientation to the cabin. The screen reacts instantly, and features navigation, Bluetooth, along with four USB-C ports and a 12V power socket in both the center console and the cargo area. A 12-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system is optional.
Oh, and seat comfort is exemplary.
And all of this goodness comes in a package that starts at $39,595 including destination charge. That’s not bad, but this ride does get pricey with options. Out test vehicle topped $50,000 with the help of the $2,300 M Sport Package and the $4,200 Premium Package.
But it proves well worth the price, making for a practical and somewhat ultimate driving machine, enough to make the X1 number one in your garage.
2023 BMW X1 — Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the 2023 X1 built?
The X1 will be built at BMW Group Plant Regensburg in Germany, where the outgoing model was produced.
Is BMW X1 considered a luxury car?
Yes. It’s considered a luxury subcompact SUV.
When was the BMW X1 last redesigned?