The new 2021 BMW X1 marks the last entry into its current generation. The second generation, which was initiated in 2016, has shown a lot of progress on BMW's part. This vehicle is larger than it looks from the outside, and its standard 27 cubit feet of cargo space behind the rear seats beats several major competitors.
Last year's 2020 line-up saw the addition of a bigger grille and updated exterior styling elements, but the changes were fairly minor. The 8.8-inch touchscreen became standard, and some optional features got switched about. But BMW left the changes at that, likely due to the fact that the X1 will be getting totally revamped for 2022. This year sees relatively no changes due to the fact that next year will introduce the third generation.
Despite the fact that the 2021 is a carryover from 2020, the X1 offers a lot of attractive features. Its aesthetics alone are enough to reel in some buyers. On top of that, customers get a 2.0-L inline-4 cylinder twin turbo engine that provides ample power. The 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque that this engine produces is no joke, and the 8-speed automatic transmission provides seamless, efficient shifting capabilities. The fact that this is the only engine offered is a good thing for people who do not want to look at a long list of configurations.
What else is there to like about the X1? Well, it can get from 0 to 60 mph in just about 6.4 seconds, which is swift for its segment. There are also plenty of physical controls that make for a user-friendly set-up along the center console. Folks sitting in the rear will get just the right amount of air from the rear vents, and the cabin stays superbly serene even when taken up to speed on the highway.
Of course, there are some drawbacks to the BMW X1, the most notable one being the ride quality. As a luxury vehicle, you would expect the ride to be plush with comfort. After all, that is something BMWs are known for. But they miss the mark with the X1. If you take the X1 off the beaten path (even on a modest dirt road), you are going to feel every single bump rattling its way throughout the entire cabin. The run-flat tires are half of the problem, and the other half is the overly stiff suspension. Regular tires tend to have sidewalls that are more compliant than what you will find on the run-flats.
The other obvious weak spot is the interior design. While the materials are fairly expensive and look to be high quality, the overall design is somewhat lackluster. Some of its competitors are a lot fancier, thereby evoking a stronger sense of luxury. However, it is reasonable to expect that the new generation in 2022 will make some serious interior design changes.
With its sprightly acceleration and sporty handling, the X1 is a top pick among compact crossover SUVs. But which trim level stands out the most? Let's take a look at the X1's two different trim levels - the sDrive28i and the xDrive28i. Since they share most of the same features and specs, we will do a lot more comparing than contrasting here. We will also be looking at what kinds of packages and stand-alone options can be added to each trim level.
Compare the 2021 BMW X1 sDrive28i vs xDrive28i - What is the Difference?
The 2021 BMW X1 has two trim levels, but they really are just variants of the same trim. The one major difference here is the drivetrain. The sDrive28i is front-wheel drive while the xDrive28i is all-wheel drive. Your choice essentially falls on which drivetrain meets your needs the best. The front-wheel drive variant is ideal for city-based drivers who live in moderate to mild climates. On the other hand, the all-wheel drive model is better suited for those who plan on doing some off-roading or who live in areas where inclement weather is frequent.
Given that the xDrive28i is all-wheel drive, it gets a few extra features to enhance its driving performance. These features include hill descent control. However, there are not too many other differences between these two trim level variants. If you want to customize your vehicle, you will have to pick between a couple of optional packages, which, of course, cost extra.
Which packages are available? There is the Convenience Package, which gives the X1 exterior and interior auto dimming rear view mirrors, LED fog lights, a sunroof, and keyless entry and ignition. The M Sport Package includes M Double Spoke 18-inch wheels, high gloss shadow-line roof rails, sport seats, the M steering wheel, shadow-line exterior trim, and an aerodynamic kit.
The Luxury Package adds a few nice features, including fine-wood oak grain trim with pearl chrome accent and perforated Dakota leather upholstery. There is also the Premium Package, which adds on a heated steering wheel, power-folding side mirrors, a universal garage door opener, comfort access keyless entry, a panoramic moonroof, ambient lighting, heated front seats, LED headlights with cornering lights, built-in navigation, and a head-up display. For a few hundred dollars more, you can get the Premium Package with 5AT or the Premium Package with ZMP.
A wireless charger can be added on as a stand-alone feature. You can also get a heated steering wheel and heated front seats as its own bundle.
So, now that we know what makes the X1's trim levels different, it is time to talk about what they have in common. Let us start off with its appearance. You can take your choice between 10 different exterior trim colors and 4 interior trim colors. The body comes complete with a rear lip spoiler, body-colored front and rear bumpers that have a black rub strip, and a chrome surround grille. The rear shows a chrome exhaust tip, and the doors have body-colored door handles.
The side mirrors have integrated turn signals, and the rear cargo area can be accessed via a power liftgate. There are some metallic paint options available for the body, and remotely heated auto dimming rear-view mirrors can be added on as an option.
Inside and out, there are a ton of convenience features to be found. This list of features includes an optional front and rear express open and close sliding and tilting glass sunroof, an optional power sunshade, standard 1-touch down windows, bins on the rear doors, dual illuminated vanity mirrors up front, and integrated memory settings for both of the front seats.
The doors are automatically locking, and there are a grand total of four USB ports to go around. This is certainly enough to fit the needs of both the driver and passengers. There are seatback storage pockets on each of the front seats, providing ample room for rear seat passengers to store small items. The cupholders up front are well sized, and the automatic temperature control system that comes standard in both trim levels is easy to use. It pumps out an adequate amount of air throughout the cabin.
The standard steering wheel is a manually tilting and telescoping sport steering wheel with a number of controls mounted onto it. BMW Assist eCall is standard as well and allows drivers to make emergency calls in a quick, efficient manner when needed. Other standard safety features include forward collision warning with a low speed automatic emergency braking feature, automatic high beams, a speed limit display, and a lane departure warning system.
The BMW iDrive infotainment system comes on both vehicles as well. It might come off as being a bit outdated, and the graphics are not exactly stunning. However, it is a system that is easy to use since it is so straightforward. Apple CarPlay is also standard, but Android Auto is absent from the list of standard features. Therefore, only iPhone users can sync their smartphones with the X1.
If you enjoy Harman Kardon's sound systems, there is an optional 12-speaker audio system available for either of the X1 trim levels. You can also opt for things like in-vehicle WiFi hot spot connectivity, sliding and reclining rear seats, and an active parking system. The standard navigation system comes with over-the-air updates and traffic info. It also has the ability to integrate your Echo, Alexa, and Google Assistant accounts with the X1.
The rear seats are 60/40 split folding that can be removed in order to maximize cargo space. There are also clever underfloor storage compartments that boost the vehicle's overall utility. The rear seat passengers get treated to a spacious design that tops pretty much every other contender in this segment.
Also, when it comes to efficiency, the X1 does well with fuel. The X1 has an EPA estimate of 26 mpg combined on the front-wheel drive sDrive28i model. This reflects the 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. In real world tests, the sDrive28i got about 28.2 mpg combined. This puts it high in its class for fuel efficiency, and the xDrive28i does well for being an all-wheel drive variant, getting ever-so-slightly less combined mpg.
Overall, the 2021 BMW X1 is well constructed and made to embody all the class standards. The aluminum and wood trim elements look nice but do not set the vehicle apart from competitors since everything just feels a bit too plain. Expect this to change with the forthcoming 2022 line-up.
The fact that both trim levels get the 3-year/36,000-mile complimentary maintenance warranty and 4-year/50,000-mile drivetrain and bumper to bumper warranties feels generous. Also, you get 4 years or unlimited miles of roadside assistance.
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Which Trim to Choose?
The 2021 BMW X1 might seem outdated compared to some of its rivals, but that is set to change next model year. Both the sDrive28i and xDrive28i are solid vehicles that put forth a strong performance from their standard powertrain. Sporty, light, but also grounded, the X1 handles most road situations well.
If you have to choose one, though, go with the sDrive28i. It gets slightly better fuel economy and is well suited for typical driving situations. Of course, if you live in a place where the roads are often slick with rain, snow, and ice, the all-wheel drive xDrive28i is definitely the way to go. Its wheels provide plenty of traction and will keep the vehicle mounted to the road. The price tag is not that much different and can easily be justified.
When it comes to customizing your X1, consider getting the Convenience Package. It adds a lot of creature comforts, including LED fog lights and the sunroof. The Premium Package is also recommended as upgrades the navigation system and gives you a heated steering wheel. It will save you some money on investing in stand-alone features.
• Compare the 2020 BMW X1 Trim Levels