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  • Writer's pictureAlain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld

2020 BMW X1

This week we are reviewing the 2020 BMW X1. Our vehicle was assembled at the Regensburg plant in Germany and has an MSRP of $51990.00 CAD.

Fun Factor: 7 Can it Family: 6 Fuel-Friendly: 7 HWY-warrior: 7 Karaoke-Friendly: 6 Baby-Friendly: 7 City Cruising: 6

When BMW moved away from its RWD chassis in 2015 on its X1 Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV), it was quite controversial as they were moving towards a vehicle based on a FWD platform shared with MINI. While the original X1 felt more like a raised-up station wagon hence made it quite sporty in its class, the current X1 has grown in size, and it shares some of its exterior looks with the rest of BMW's X lineup family. For 2020 some of the exterior stylings have been updated to give it a sportier look. Surprisingly at this time, BMW only offers one engine in North America; a 2L inline turbo 4-cylinder with 228hp and 258 lb-ft of torque combined with an 8-speed automatic transmission. If you wish to get a faster vehicle from BMW, you'll need to move to the X2, which offers a more powerful engine with 301hp. While offering only one engine option may seem like a missed opportunity, the X1 engine offers respectable performances. In our real-life acceleration test, we achieved 100km/h in 6.95 seconds in the snow. BMW announces a 0-100km in 6.5 seconds. The ride quality is pleasant being neither too firm nor too soft. BMW was able to find a comfortable middle ground when it comes to the suspension tuning of the X1. Where we saw grounds for improvement was how the xDrive system handles at higher speeds. At a constant speed, the front wheels are doing all the leg work, and that's fine as it gives back a better fuel economy. We wished for improvement regarding when and how power is sent to the rear wheels; with a limited amount of torque transmitted to the rear wheels when overtaking, this causes a little torque steer. This doesn't apply at slow speeds when needing to get out of a sticky situation in the snow.

Some of you may remember that we had tested a base 2018 BMW X1 where we had found that the base seats didn't offer sufficient lumbar support and had suggested to upgrade to the premium seats. This time around, the version we tested came with the black Dakota leather perforated seats, if using the X1 for long distances or added everyday luxury, the upgraded seats are worth every penny. They kept us nicely in place during our road trip from Montreal to Toronto, nearly 600 km one way, in one sitting and enjoyed them as much on our way back to Montreal. The heated seats are standard for the driver and co-pilot; the heated steering wheel is an option available with the "Premium Package Essential" or above. The rear bench can accommodate 3 children or 2 adults with a child in the middle. Now for the trunk with the X1's boxy shape, it enables you to fit large items with ease; this is due in part to the flat loading floor. In our test, we were able to fit 2 large strollers while keeping a little extra space for a shopping spree. The benefit of such setup is that it allows you to fold down each seat individually, depending on what you are trying to fit n and not lose any additional seat. For example, if you're bringing fishing rods, you can do so in the middle and still have 2 passengers on both sides. The folding mechanism can be a little annoying, especially when parking in tighter spots because it's located in the 2nd row instead of directly from the trunk.

We went over our X1 review from last year, and surprisingly we were able to get the same exact average for the X1. This time around, we did our test on a stretch of 1800km were 75% of our drive was on the HWY. Our average on the HWY was 8.2L/100km, and in the city, we averaged 11.9L/100km, and that includes driving within Toronto's GTA and its delightful traffic found at any time of the day. During our test, we averaged 9.1L/100km. Exterior temperatures oscillated between +2c and -22c. Environment wise, Natural Resources Canada rates the X1 as a 7 out of 10 for its smog rating, 10 being the best possible result. The Co2 emissions are 217 g/km, giving it a score of 5 out of 10, again 10 being the best. These results make it the best choice among German manufacturers. BMW advertises an average fuel consumption of 9.3L/100km.

On the HWY, the X1 is fun to drive; handling is its strong point, especially when you compare it to other vehicles in this segment. While the 2L turbo engine does provide adequate performances, a couple of additional hp wouldn't hurt it to make it zippier. The Driving Assistant Plus, which includes Lane Departure Warning and Camera-based cruise control, is an extra $1000. While our model was almost fully equipped, it did not have these security features; they would have to be added even when selecting the highest package.

The HiFi sound system with its seven speakers and a 205-watt amplifier was clear enough for all the power ballads we played, as we spent Valentine evening on the road. We would, however, suggest for the hardcore audiophile to upgrade to the 12 loudspeakers Harman Kardon Sound System that we loved in other BMW products we've tested. The X1 infotainment is BMW's iDrive system that comes in the form of an 8.8-inch touch screen with vivid graphics. It's straightforward to use and can also be controlled using the click wheel, making it easier to operate while driving. The climate controls are easy to operate and are separate from the infotainment, making the whole experience very user friendly. On the other hand, other electronics are a little vintage; the center console is from another period as it still has a cd player, and wireless charging is an option.

Now how simple is it to install car seats in the X1? The rear door opening is fairly wide, you will not have any difficulty entering most car seats, and the higher stance of the car also means you don't have to kneel into the vehicle to install car seats. The ISOFIX ports are easily accessible and are hidden under flaps that open upwards, and which can easily be closed when not in use. If you are using 2 car seats, you would still have a place for a small child in the middle. You know how in some cars when you pull the back seats down then back up, you have to be careful with the seat belt, so it doesn't get stuck towards the trunk? It's just annoying when you're in a rush or are juggling kids, groceries; we appreciated that in the X1, the belt always stays in place and does not need to adjust after folding the seats. We've seen no complications with the door handle; a toddler can open it all by themselves. As for accessing a child seat, the little step underneath the back row will help children gain access to their child seat without any hassle, BMW might have done this inadvertently. However, we had to mention it as it allows kids to access their child seat easily, making awkward postures for the parent something of the past.

In the city, the X1 is compact enough that it has no trouble finding parking or making its way in narrower streets. Visibility around the cabin is excellent, and while it doesn't have a 360-degree camera, it does come with a high definition rear-view camera and comes with proximity sensors for the front and back bumper to assist while parking in tight spots. The X1 offers a start/stop function to reduce fuel consumption in the city. While other markets offer a Plug-in Hybrid to reduce even further the fuel consumption in the city, this is currently not offered for North American city dwellers, unless you move to the MINI Countryman S E. On the X1 city emergency braking comes standard. It will also recognize pedestrians in alerting via an auditory alert and a visual alert that shows up within the cluster and in the heads-up display.

Why would we buy the 2020 BMW X1, or what we liked about it: it's a comfortable ride for the family, good handling, it's one of the best, maybe the best small luxury crossover.

Why we wouldn't buy the 2020 BMW X1, or what we didn't like about it: Only one engine is offered, no hybrid or plug-in hybrid, lack some of the commodities found in the competition.

BMW has lent us this vehicle for one week as a press vehicle, we have no affiliation with BMW Canada, and the above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the vehicle referred above.

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