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2013 BMW x1 Crossover Road Test  by Martha Hindes - Road & Travel Magazine's 2013 CUV Buyer's Guide

2013 BMW X1 Road Test Review

by Martha Hindes

CUV Buyer's Guide - RTM's Top 10 Picks for 2013

Acura RDX

Honda CR-V


Hyundai Santa Fe

Ford Escape

There's this song that's been around for awhile you've probably heard called Anticipation. Something about “keepin' me waitin'” and such stuff we think most folks can relate to. We also suspect it's been a theme song for BMW aficionados who've breathlessly waited for launch day to arrive. If you have a 2013 BMW X1 sports activity vehicle in your sites, wait no more. The newest, smallest crossover -- also known as “SAV” (for sports activity vehicle) in BMW speak -- has arrived. And we think Carly Simon would love it. We do.

At first glance this is all BMW, from the signature double kidney grille framed with winged headlamp housings to the inherent grunt feel it exudes even when standing still. While finally reaching American shores after satisfying BMW addicts in foreign lands, it takes its proper place in the local BMW lineup and positions itself as the elitist version of a compact crossover against such rivals as newly redesigned Acura RDX, Ford's Escape, and other small, multi-tasking CUV people pleasers. It hasn't be missing for a lack of interest, but because BMW gave the Leipsig, Germany-built vehicle world-wide exposure before making it available to American buyers. With many Americans now trending toward smaller vehicles, we're finally at the head of the list.

BMW knew it was heading into the fray with this model as almost every auto company has determined this is THE latest battlefield for customers. Bringing the right product to market was a given.

What we get is an updated compact crossover loaded with the kinds of creature comforts, driving dynamics and sporting heritage one would expect from a premium, no nonsense auto brand.

Sizing of the X1 might surprise some potential buyers, more attuned to more weight, more heft, and more bulk in a vehicle. But for those who still reel from costly trips to the gas pump but who don't want to forego precision driving and utility in the process, this could be just what the automotive engineer ordered.

The X1 is pure BMW in appearance. Immediately recognizable by its trademark exterior shape, long hood, distinctive wheel arches, long wheelbase and positioning of the cabin, and a ready-to-run look even when standing still. Give in to the lure to check it out, and you'll and find an interior that BMW defines as “driver focused,” for the positioning of elements accessible to the captain of the ship (AKA driver). Depending on model, there's either a center console storage area, or iDrive controls in that area if IP controls are displaced by a navigation system.

Instead of a one-for-all offering, X1 comes with BMW's “lines.” The base is the rear-drive sDrive 128i with BMW's newest twin power turbo-charged 2.0-liter four cylinder engine connected with the ZF 8-speed automatic. It generates 240 HP and earns a preliminary rating of 24/33 or combined 27 MPG. With all wheel drive, the early rating for the xDrive28i is estimated at 22/30/25. The engine was developed to retain driving fun while improving fuel economy.

Driving enthusiasts can bypass a four and opt instead for the all-wheel-drive-only X1 xDrive35i line with BMW's N55 powerplant (3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder) with 6-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. This performance-oriented version generates as much as 300-HP and 300 lb-ft of exhilarating torque. How do you spell WOW!

For those whose fun needs an earth friendly foundation, both lines have an available ECO PRO and stop-start technology designed to extend driving range. A gauge displays the savings. In addition to full safety systems, it has Hill Descent Control to safely navigate switchback mountain roads and Performance Control as part of the optional M Sport Package.

Inside is the attention to luxury detail one would expect from a BMW, including BMW xLine badging, available leather trim and optional Fineline Bay matt fine wood finish trim. A three-way splitting rear seat lets passengers tilt back for comfort or lets the owner choose the space needed for rear storage

Besides a long menu of standard items, including automatic climate control, heated exterior mirrors, foglamps,  Rain Sensing windshield wipers and automatic headlights, one can upgrade with panoramic glass sunroof, Servotronic steering, Adaptive Xenon Headlights and automatic high beams (all standard on xDrive35i).

Among available upgrades is harman/kardon audio, for those not content spending $31.5K for the rear-drive base sDrive 128i, or about $40k for the xDrive35i.

Either way, gentlewomen, start your engines. We know you'll enjoy.

For more info on BMW vehicles, click here.