With plenty of features, powerful drivetrains, and roomy cabins weighted against affordable prices, small and luxurious SUVs are big sellers in Canada. Yet, in a crowded class with capable machines like the Audi Q3, Mercedes-Benz GLA/GLB, and Volvo XC40/C40, our more than 20 automotive experts from all over Canada have voted the BMW X1 and sleeker X2 as the Best Subcompact Luxury SUV in the 2024 AutoTrader Awards, signifying a vehicle we can confidently recommend to our family and friends.
The current third-generation X1 debuted for the 2023 model year and was joined by the X2 for 2024. With a roomier, more modern cabin and improved driving dynamics, the third time’s the charm, as BMW’s smallest SUVs raise the bar in this popular class, securing the votes of our jury in the process.
The BMW X1/X2 are on the bigger side of the subcompact luxury SUV segment, making them close in size to their larger BMW X3/X4 siblings. The X1/X2 add further practicality with rear seats that split and fold in a 40/20/40 manner. Rear legroom is excellent for the class, and there’s a generous amount of cargo space behind the rear seats, emphasizing the BMW’s relative roominess.
The BMW X1/X2’s upscale and high-tech interiors live up to the famous roundel badge on the hood. The German automaker’s latest infotainment system and the curved one-piece unit incorporating the driver’s instrument cluster and the infotainment display are standard. The floating armrest with an integral control panel contributes to the high-tech vibe inside. A clean design and upscale materials are further reminders that you’re in a luxury SUV.
BMW is known for fun-to-drive vehicles, and despite the X1/X2 being gateways to the brand, the small SUVs live up to that reputation in spades. Both use BMW’s familiar 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine. It makes 241 horsepower in the base xDrive28i trim. All-wheel drive and automatic gearboxes give drivers more confidence on snowy roads.
In both body styles, a test drive in the upper M35i xDrive trim is necessary if you’re looking for an upscale hot hatch. While it doesn’t get the complete M treatment, there are more than just cosmetic upgrades. The M35i xDrive gains a more powerful engine, upgraded brakes, standard adaptive dampers, and sporty exterior add-ons.
Using the same engine as the xDrive28i, the M35i Drive is tuned for 312 horsepower. While it is BMW’s most potent four-cylinder engine, it has less power than its closest rival, but it still manages to tackle a twisty road with enthusiasm and confidence.
If you own an older BMW X3/X4, the X1/X2 could be considered as serious replacements for considerably less damage to your bank account. Prices start around $49,000 for the X1 xDrive28i ($7,000 less than an X3 SUV), topping out with the X2 M35i xDrive at $63,000 ($15,000 less than the sportiest X4).
As our Editor-in-Chief at AutoTrader, Jodi Lai concluded from a review of the X1, “This subcompact SUV does everything a BMW should – it drives well, looks cool, and feels fancy inside, but it’s also surprisingly practical and easy to live with day to day.” For going above and beyond what’s expected and making very few compromises, this BMW earns its win.