They come with various names — crossover, SUV, Sports Activity Vehicle and CUV — and they are the new darlings of the small luxury wagon category. Nearly all the major manufacturers have one or they are working on one.
BMW?s entry into the growing category is the BMW X1, which comes in three variations and each fits the corporate promise of ?the Ultimate Driving Machine.? One thing we can always count on from BMW is outstanding driving dynamics and performance and this newest Sports Activity Vehicle fits the mold.
The X1 BMW provided for our week of driving was outfitted with splashy graphics and a large roof box. We see many of these carriers in our area, especially during the ski season. They are designed to carry recreation equipment, but make us think ?aerodynamic coffin?. They make a great deal of sense for providing extra cargo space but with our test vehicle, it mostly blocked the view out of large panoramic moonroof.
Our test vehicle was the 2013 BMW X1 xDrive 28i which has a 240-hp 2.0-liter TwinPower turbocharged four-cylinder engine hooked up with an eight-speed automatic transmission. According to the manufacturers, the potent little engine produces a 0 to 60 mph time of 6.3 seconds and 6.2 seconds for the rear-wheel drive model. The engine has an EPA fuel economy rating of 22 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 26 mph in combined driving. We averaged 27.2 in mostly highway driving on a trip to the Oregon coast.
The ultimate X1, though, is the xDrive35i with its award winning 3.0-liter twin turbo in-line six-cylinder engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. With a 0 to 60 mph time of only 5.3 seconds, it?s in the same league as many of the high performance sport sedans. The 300-hp six-cylinder has an EPA rating of 18/27/21 mpg.
We enjoyed the X1 on a short road trip, but would prefer it without the box on top and splashy graphics?guess were too old and conservative for that. The X1 is very utilitarian, while still being economical and fun-to-drive. Like most four-wheel drives, this one can easily handle adverse conditions when needed and even some mild off-roading if the mood strikes you.