A car company has to make money if it wants to keep making cars, and BMW has made a number of unpopular decisions in order to remain profitable.
First, it began selling SUVs and crossovers in order to capitalize on a trend that's still going strong. Then it began building BMW-badged vehicles based on a front-wheel drive platform shared with its Mini Cooper range of compact cars.
What's key here is who considers those decisions unpopular. That group would be the purest of the purists, long-time BMW drivers who love the sharp driving dynamics afforded by the rear-drive layout the company clung to for the longest time. But the auto industry is changing: There's a whole new cohort of people buying BMWs and most of them don't care how the car is propelled down the road so long as the feel of the car matches their perception of the brand.
And that is a long-winded way of saying the second-generation X1 compact crossover was the first BMW model in North America to abandon the company's dedication to rear-wheel drive. That happened when this latest design was introduced as a 2016 model, and it carries over into 2018 unchanged, save for a restructuring of option packages.
Power comes from a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, fed through an eight-speed automatic transmission and to all four wheels by BMW's xDrive AWD system.
BMW has established itself as a purveyor of one of the most effective AWD systems you can get, and paired with the generous low-end torque of the turbo engine, it is quite effective at moving this little crossover away from a stop. While there is a lot of competition for shoppers to consider in the X1's category, this one lives up to the brand's reputation for smooth, classy performance. Still, there are, no doubt, those who wish BMW still offered the X1 with the company's potent turbo six-cylinder.
While it's an attractive vehicle, the X1 has never looked quite as slick as its competitors from Audi, the Q3 and Q5. And BMW faces new competition in 2018 from the Volvo XC40, the Swedish brand's first-ever small crossover and one we're sure will follow in the tire tracks of other well-executed recent models like the XC60 and S90.
The X1's fuel consumption estimates are 10.7/7.5 L/100 km (city/highway).