After taking an impression of my credit card (who knew that BMW owners would be stingy putting gas into their loaner cars), I was released to
the world at large in a low-mileage 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i.
I had driven an X1 in Canada and Germany but not yet in the United States. So I threaded my way through traffic and orange construction barrels from the dealership back to the other side of the metro. Highways, surface roads, and broken roads – regardless, the X1 is a BMW.
As Alex Riciutti said in his writeup of the BMW 125d, “The thing about BMWs is that they have a consistency in their driving dynamics I have never seen another automaker come even close to. That consistency helps define the brand. You know what you’re getting when you buy a BMW and that is a pretty fantastic, all-round driver experience.”
And the 2013 X1 xDrive28i is consistently a BMW. It drives and looks like a BMW. The dealer avoided heavily checking the options list for this
courtesy car, so it had no Navigation, no paddles shifters, no sport seats, no leather, base radio, etc. And yet the seats were great – it is a joy to sit on, not in car seats – soft seats are a literal pain in the butt on long journeys.
Threading my way through the construction I noticed how much feedback I was getting in the steering. This was really good, have they amped up
the EPS? Well, no. The xDrive model has a hydraulic rack and a skinny steering wheel, so it returns a lot of information (and some of that
information is noise – but information nonetheless). The Goodyear all-season run-flats were nothing to write home about though, but for soft-roading probably necessary.
Then there was the Eco Pro button sitting at the bottom of the center stack. Not having a great opportunity to open up the N20 engine in traffic I lit up the Eco Pro mode. Wow – all the verve of a Toyota Yaris with fouled plugs. I realize this is good for fuel economy – and I could easily imagine using it in conjunction with cruise control for a trip across Kansas, but it really sucks the life out of the N20.
And speaking of the N20, it’s aural output on this model is less than ‘premium’. The sound needs to be tweaked a bit, and I’m sure it can be done, hopefully soon. But what the N20 does do is provide the ‘comfort of torque’. When compared to the Honda CR-V or the Toyota RAV4 it is
head and shoulders above them. The Honda 2.3L outputs 163 lb ft of torque, the Toyota 2.5L 172 lb ft, whereas the 2.0L turbo BMW N20 produces 260 lb ft of torque. Which one will achieve escape velocity first – stick with the BMW.
And the final comparison – would the BMW X1 be cross shopped by folks looking at the CR-V or RAV4. I think so, the high end models of the
Honda and Toyota come in around $3,500 or so less than the base BMW X1 xDrive28i. And what that extra bit of do re me buys you, as Alex said, “is a pretty fantastic, all-round driver experience.”