BMW X1 Buyer’s Guide – X1 Performance, Reliability, Driving, & More

The BMW X1 made it's debut in 2009 following the success of BMW X3 and X5 models. However, it was not available in the United States until model year 2013. X1 models are common in Europe for their small size. Despite its X1 badge it's actually not the smallest BMW SAV - that title goes to the X2 model. Anyways, the X1 has plenty to offer as a subcompact SUV. In this guide, we discuss the various BMW X1 models along with performance, reliability, handling, and more.

BMW X1 Basic Info

X1 models currently cover two generations. E84 X1's model years span from 2009 to 2015 while the newest F48 X1 made its debut in 2015 for model year 2016. Both models also went through facelifts during their lives. We'll cover more of that when we dive into the specific, but for now let's layout some of the background info for this article.

Diesel options are available in the E84 and F48 X1, but it depends on market. Our main focus is the US market, so we're mostly looking at the common gas engines. Much of this article applies to both the gas and diesel models except for the engine specific data.

The same is true of specific models like the European sDrive 18i versus an American spec sDrive28i. Engines are different, but much of the X1 topics we discuss apply. Point is - our primary focus is on US specific models, but a lot of the topics are relevant to all models and markets.

BMW F48 X1Pin

X1 vs X3 vs X5

BMW X1 models are relatively small for an SAV/SUV. When it comes to interior space they're not going to feel much larger (if at all) than your average sedan. Of course, they do offer more versatility than a typical sedan. It also has more ground clearance, height, etc. There's a reason the X1 isn't as common in the US since many SUV buyers are looking for more size. If this is you then you're likely better suited to a larger X3 or X5 model.

Larger BMW X models also generally offer more standard features, luxury, power, and so on. The price of moving to an X3, X5, or X7 is the catch, though. New X1 models start in the $35,000 range making them a viable choice for many. Used options also offer better pricing when comparing similar years, condition, and mileage.

An X1 is a great SUV for anyone that wants a bit more versatility than a sedan, but doesn't need the size or price point of a larger BMW SUV. The X1 offers a good balance of cost, luxury, versatility, fuel economy, and more. However, if you value size and luxury then you may consider looking at an X3 or X5 to see the differences. We recently wrote an article about the X3 vs X5, so be sure to check it out if you do want a larger SUV.

X1 New & Used Prices

What's your budget for a BMW X1? Are you looking for a brand new car or willing to save some money on an older model? These are important questions that vary from person to person. Once you know your budget and needs you can start looking for an X1 that works for you. Let's examine some X1 prices to give an idea of what different buyers may be looking for:

  • E84 X1: ~$10,000 - $23,000 (2013-2015 US models)
  • F48 X1: ~$18,000 - $40,000+ (2016-2021 US models)
  • Brand New: $35,400 starting ($37,400 for AWD)

We're not including models with over 100,000 miles in the pricing. As such, some cheaper examples exist if you're willing to sacrifice condition and mileage. $10,000 is about the starting point for a 2013 E84 X1. If you want to go to 2015 models with low mileage then prices can climb just over $20,000.

Then there are the 2016+ F48 X1, which is still the newest chassis to date. These are going to start just under $20,000 for 2016 models and can run up to $40,000+ for lightly used 2020 or 2021 models. More than the starting price of a brand new base X1 model.

Speaking of brand new X1's - they start at $35,400 for the front-wheel drive or $37,400 for xDrive AWD. Start adding some options and the price can quickly move into the $40,000 to $45,000 ballpark. Fully loaded the price can get close to the $45,700 MSRP of the X3 xDrive30i.

Which X1 Is Right For You?

Consider which X1 models and years meet your budget. There's no correct answer to this. However, if you're staying around $17,000 or less than the 2013-2015 E84 X1 is really your only choice as of now. In the $17,000 to $23,000 range you can choose between lower mileage E84's or higher mileage F48's. Above $25,000 you'll mostly be looking at F48 models.

Anyways, this is all to help layout the next section. We will break this down into two main sections: the BMW E84 X1 and F48 X1. Within each section we'll talk about engines, performance, handling, and more. Combine all of this info with your budget & needs and hopefully that provides a great starting point for what X1 is right for you.

BMW E84 X1 Models

The E84 began production in 2009 for model year 2010 X1's. It's actually based on the E90 3-series chassis of the same era and they share a 109" wheelbase. BMW facelifted (known as LCI) the E84 in 2013 right before introduction in the United States. It's available in rear wheel or all wheel drive. A major difference between the newer F48 X1 which is front-wheel drive or AWD.

E84 X1 Engine Options

One major benefit of the older E84 X1 is the available 3.0L inline-6 turbo engine. The newer F48 is only available with 3 or 4 cylinder engines. As such, if you're looking for the ultimate performance then the E84 may be the better choice. Here is a breakdown of models and engines:

  • sDrive or xDrive28i: 2.0L N20 inline-4 turbo engine
    • 241hp / 258 lb-ft. 0-60 in 6.1 seconds for RWD or 6.4 seconds for AWD
  • xDrive35i: 3.0L N55 inline-6 turbo engine
    • 300hp / 300 lb-ft. 0-60 in 5.6 second

Note - the X1 35i 6-cylinder model is only available in xDrive. Thanks to its 300 horsepower it beats the RWD 28i model to 60mph by a healthy half a second. For an apples to apples comparison it's 0.8 seconds faster to 60mph than the xDrive28i. Tuning and mods is where the larger N55 engine really shines, though.

More on performance and mods in the next section. Just know the larger, more capable inline-6 is only available in the E84 X1.

E84 Performance & Handling

Above is some basic info for performance of the BMW E84 X1. For an SUV, 0-60 times in the ballpark of 5.5 to 6.3 seconds are respectable. However, both the N20 and N55 engines are capable of more. Their turbo design allows for big power increases with a tune and simple bolt-ons. The N20 is capable of about 300whp with a tune and simple mods while the N55 can hit 400+whp.

Chances are most X1 buyer's aren't looking to tune and mod their SUV. Both offer solid performance from the factory. It's still nice to know there's plenty of potential left if you end up wanting or needing more power.

Handling is where the E84 X1 really shines, in our opinion. It's a relatively light-weight SUV built off the phenomenal E90 chassis. This X1 uses hydraulic power steering, which provides excellent feedback. We're not fans of the electronic power steering on newer models. Anyways, the newer F48 X1 does handle better on paper. We'll take the more raw and exciting steering feel on the E84, though. The BMW X1 is still a very nimble SUV either way.

BMW E84 X1 Reliability

Reliability is always a tough topic since it can depend on so many factors. However, the E84 is generally a pretty reliable car. It is a BMW so don't expect flawless reliability or extremely low maintenance costs. Relative to a larger X3 or X5 the X1 has fewer areas of concern, though. Less tech and electronics should help quite a bit.

Then there are engines. BMW N20 engines main concern lies within the timing chain. There are also the occasional oil leaks and cooling system issues, but the N20 is a pretty solid engine. When it comes to the inline-6 N55 engine it's a bit more of a wild card. Oil leaks and cooling system issues are fairly common. It's also a larger and more powerful engine, which can bring on extra possible issues and more maintenance. Check out the below articles for more info.

BMW N20 Reliability & Common Engine Issues

N55 Reliability & Common Problems

2016+ F48 X1 Chassis

F48 models began production in 2015 with their first model year beginning in 2016. It stands 2.6" taller and 0.9" wider than the previous E84 X1. However, the F48 X1 actually receives a 3.5" shorter wheelbase and 0.6" shorter overall length. The new chassis does offer more interior space. RWD is no longer an option as the F48 is front-wheel drive or AWD.

Anyways, the BMW X1 underwent a facelift (LCI) for model year 2020. This means the X1 likely has a few years left before BMW replaces it with a new 3rd generation model. Let's jump in and talk about the F48 in-depth.

BMW F48 Engines

There isn't much to discuss when it comes to US models of the F48 X1. It's available in sDrive FWD or xDrive AWD. All 2016-2021+ models use the B48 2.0L inline-4 turbo engine. That's the one and only engine available. We are big fans of the BMW B48 engine, though.

It's the successor to the N20 in the older E84 chassis. BMW made a lot of great updates to improve reliability. Although, it doesn't have much more to offer when it comes to performance. It offers 228 horsepower from the factory along with 258 lb-ft. The same torque output as the older N20, but 13hp less. The F48 xDrive28i is good for a 6.5 second 0-60. A slightly worse result than the previous generation X1.

F48 X1 Performance & Handling

As with the previous engine options, the B48 is capable of plenty more performance with a few mods. Some engines actually make as much as 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft from BMW directly. The B48 in the X1 is the same engine - it's simply detuned compared to some other models. Add a tune and some basic mods and 300+ horsepower is possible.

Again, we're big fans of the B48 engine but the performance is a bit disappointing. The older E84 models are actually faster to 60mph by at least a few tenths of a second. In essence, the F48 might be newer but it's not the better performance X1.

Handling is better than the older models on paper. Of course, it's going to handle better in the real world too. However, the move to electronic steering is a bit of a bummer. Non-enthusiasts won't mind the change and may actually prefer the feel of the F48. As we mentioned before - we simply prefer the raw and exciting steering feel of the older E90 based model.

BMW F48 X1 Reliability

We think reliability is where the F48 is really going to shine. We like to write common problems articles for all BMW engines, but haven't done so for the B48 yet. It's still a newer engine, so time will tell how they do in the long-term. As of now, there just aren't enough truly common issues to write about.

The B48 seems like a real winner so far. All of the updates over older engines seem to be holding up well. Combine that with the fact that the F48 is the newer model and we believe it's the more reliable option by a good margin. Again, this could change in the longer-term.

BMW X1 Buyer's Guide Summary

X1 models made their debut in 2009 for several reasons. One was due to the large success of the X3 and X5. Another reason was the need for a smaller SUV, especially during a time gas prices were on the rise. This led to the release of the BMW X1. It's the second smallest BMW SAV oddly losing to the X2.

Nonetheless, the X1 is a great choice for anyone who wants more versatility than a sedan but doesn't need a full on SUV. They offer a great overall balance of fuel economy, reliability, performance, and price. US models date back to 2013 and can be had for around $10,000 while newer models can run up to $20,000 to $45,000. A good range that fits the needs of many buyers.

Older E84 X1 models actually hold a decent edge when it comes to performance. You have the choice for the N55 turbo inline-6 engine or N20 inline-4 turbo. We love the new B48 engine, but it actually offers worse performance in the X1. The newer F48 X1 definitely takes the reliability win, though. Handling is a toss up. Newer models are better on paper, but enthusiasts may prefer the raw steering feel in the older E84. Either way, both X1 generations are great subcompact SUV's with plenty to offer.

What's your experience with the BMW X1? Are you considering one?

Check out our BMW X3 and X5 guides if you're looking for more size

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