Listen to hallway and office chatter at Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center and you'll find widely divergent opinions about the BMW X1. They mostly fall into two camps, and it all boils down to the car's value.
Camp #1 views the X1 as basically a last-generation 3 Series wagon (which it is). That's an inherently good thing. But that wagon was never offered in the United States with a potent engine, and it usually stickered for well over $40,000.
The X1 neatly solves both of those problems. It has the same powerful and efficient 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine as our 2013 Top Pick Sports Sedan, the 328i. It also has laudable old-school BMW steering feedback, something missing from the current 3 Series. And our modestly-equipped X1 stickered for $38,795--$1,700 less than the 325xi wagon we tested way back in 2006! What's not to like?
Camp #2 counters--strongly--that the X1 isn't really much car for the money. It looks sort of odd. The steering effort is crazy heavy, particularly when parking. There's not much rear-seat room or cargo space. And some of the interior bits look cheap. If you skip the optional iDrive and its attendant expensive option packages, there's better connectivity in a $17,000 Kia. And nearly $39,000 buys a much more practical vehicle, like the super-easy-to-live-with Acura RDX. One Subaru Outback-owning member of our staff got out of the X1, shook her head, and said "I can't believe this car costs this much."
What does all of this mean? The X1 probably isn't for everyone. To help find out if it's right for you, watch our quick take video. A full road test video and detailed test results are available on the X1 model page.