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Mudfest 2013: Tom's Hardware Helps Test 23 SUVs

BMW X1

BMW finally introduced the X1 to the U.S. for 2013 after making it available in Europe since 2010 and Canada in 2012. The sample on-hand for Mudfest was a well-equipped xDrive35i model with all-wheel drive and enough power to get us into trouble. Optional packages on the X1 included the Sport Line, Cold Weather, Driver Assistance, Ultimate (includes Premium, Technology, and Navigation packages), BMW Apps, and an automatic transmission.

The X1 has the QNX-based BMW Navigation system with a control knob mounted within reach from the armrest. This is one of what we consider to be the most ideal mechanisms for navigation input, since it enables a relaxed interaction without being too distracting. Our iPad had no trouble interfacing with BMW's navigation system. Likewise, HTC's Droid DNA paired up and was able to read text messages out loud. It did not offer an option to reply, though.

Power comes from an 3.0-liter N55-series inline-six, per BMW fashion. The N55 motor employs a twin scroll turbo for minimal lag. BMW pairs the engine with a six-speed automatic transmission and sends power to all four wheels through the xDrive AWD system, which is designed with rear-wheel drive in mind. Normally, it splits power 40:60, though up to 100 percent can be diverted to the front or rear automatically.

The X1’s powertrain yields a fun-to-drive crossover that's well suited to the speed racer inside each of us. I couldn’t help but smile driving the X1 on the road and dirt courses. The rear-biased nature of the xDrive system allowed me to briefly kick the rear end loose before sending power to the front. Although I enjoy the X1's bit of oversteer, it's probably not something more casual drivers will care for.

Styling is hit or miss with the X1. We don't think it's downright ugly, but the car is a far cry from what BMW has achieved in the past. The late '90s and early 2000-era cars (E39 5-series, E38 7-series, E46 3-series) were much better-looking. The Marrakesh Brown Metallic paint job didn’t do the X1 any favors, either.

Vehicle Specifications
Vehicle2013 BMW X1
Trim levelxDrive35i
Engine3.0 L BMW TwinPower Inline-six (N55B30)
TransmissionSix-speed Steptronic automatic
DrivetrainxDrive
InfotainmentBMW Navigation
Notable featuresRear-view cameraPark distance controlBMW Assist with BluetoothBMW AppsServotronic vehicle speed-sensitive power steering
Fuel economy18 city, 27 highway, 21 combined MPG
MSRP$48,095
  • Super_Nova
    Very slow newsweek
    Reply
  • flong777
    Interesting but with so little time per vehicle, the results are obviously suspect. I believe the Wrangler is the best off-road vehicle, not sure about the rest. But that conclusion come from more in depth reviews which actually "review" the vehicle.
    Reply
  • Johnny_C13
    Well, at least the Grand Cherokee can (literally) run (on) Crysis... but I wonder if it starts faster with an SSD?
    Reply
  • MU_Engineer
    Anybody find it funny that the vehicle largely based on WWII era technology does the best in the offroad tests while the newer, high-tech "tall wagons with AWD" get stuck in more than a couple inches of snow? Just like tablets, phones, and laptops aren't going to make desktops go away, unit-body transverse-engine four-banger cars aren't going to replace body-on-frame trucks with solid axles and leaf springs when you need to do real work. The even funnier thing is that an "ancient" carbureted pushrod V8 and manual transmission would have made the Wrangler perform *better* in the offroad tests than the 8-speed slushbox and fancy twin-cam V6 car engine.
    Reply
  • ammaross
    Stopped reading when I saw the Toyota 4Runner wasn't in the mix.
    Reply
  • ammaross
    Stopped reading when I saw the Toyota 4Runner wasn't in the mix.
    Reply
  • tuanies
    10968917 said:
    Interesting but with so little time per vehicle, the results are obviously suspect. I believe the Wrangler is the best off-road vehicle, not sure about the rest. But that conclusion come from more in depth reviews which actually "review" the vehicle.

    Its a great offroad vehicle for the price. The other two are capable vehicles, but the buyer demographic will never take them offroad.

    10969315 said:
    Anybody find it funny that the vehicle largely based on WWII era technology does the best in the offroad tests while the newer, high-tech "tall wagons with AWD" get stuck in more than a couple inches of snow? Just like tablets, phones, and laptops aren't going to make desktops go away, unit-body transverse-engine four-banger cars aren't going to replace body-on-frame trucks with solid axles and leaf springs when you need to do real work. The even funnier thing is that an "ancient" carbureted pushrod V8 and manual transmission would have made the Wrangler perform *better* in the offroad tests than the 8-speed slushbox and fancy twin-cam V6 car engine.

    Mechanical technology has its uses but the WWII Era vehicles are awful for comfort and driving feel. Not going to lie though, the G-wagen is one sexy beast IMO. The Wrangler is only a 6-speed auto iirc, but there's a company that offers HEMI conversions :D.

    10969432 said:
    Stopped reading when I saw the Toyota 4Runner wasn't in the mix.

    Toyota didn't submit any vehicles, disappointingly. Was hoping the 5th Gen 4Runner and new RAV4 would be there :(.
    Reply
  • joe gamer
    Holy crap these are expensive vehicles, who is buying these monsters? I make $60k a year and live comfortably but there is no way I could afford any of these. The HYUNDAI clocked in at over $35k....The painfully anemic Subaru(with what has to be the worst manual I've ever used) is still over $20K and it's terrible, poor power, poor gas mileage, poor off road performance, ugly styling, shitty electronics, and only moderate interior room...but that's the only one in my price range? How poor am I exactly?

    Seriously the WRX transmission is quite nice, how the hell did all of their others end up to be so godawful?

    Guess I'm stuck with my 1999 Isuzu Rodeo until I can win the lottery...oil burning, gas guzzling eyesore it may be but hey the money I saved will buy me a decades worth of gas.
    Reply
  • tuanies
    10969918 said:
    Holy crap these are expensive vehicles, who is buying these monsters? I make $60k a year and live comfortably but there is no way I could afford any of these. The HYUNDAI clocked in at over $35k....The painfully anemic Subaru(with what has to be the worst manual I've ever used) is still over $20K and it's terrible, poor power, poor gas mileage, poor off road performance, ugly styling, shitty electronics, and only moderate interior room...but that's the only one in my price range? How poor am I exactly?

    Seriously the WRX transmission is quite nice, how the hell did all of their others end up to be so godawful?

    Guess I'm stuck with my 1999 Isuzu Rodeo until I can win the lottery...oil burning, gas guzzling eyesore it may be but hey the money I saved will buy me a decades worth of gas.

    Nothing wrong with an old Isuzu, before GM raped and pillaged them :(. Cars are so expensive nowadays, you're about as poor as I am, but add in two kids and a wife. The WRX has a nice manual because its a performance vehicle. Manuals in economy cars are usually sloppy. long throws and not very exciting, which is why I hate to say to get the auto in economy cars. But, the XV Crosstrek could probably be fixed with a short throw shifter, that usually does wonders.

    Reply
  • JPNpower
    Why are you using SUVs in the mud!!! These things belong in parking lots at the mall!
    Reply