The 2023 BMW X1 Luxury SUV Got a Complete Makeover — and Just Might Be the Brand’s Best SUV

Bmw X1 Featured Image

And its best feature? All you get for less than $48K.

You’d be forgiven for mistaking the 2023 BMW X1, which recently got a complete overhaul, for its bigger siblings, the X3 and X5. On first glance it looks familiar; it has sleek curved headlights, a new distinctive but not overly large front grille and it carries the same BMW SUV presence as the larger models.

But inside, this $36,000 – $48,000 BMW X1 luxury SUV is hard to beat for the clever design, top shelf technology and smart luxuries. 

Related: 2022 BMW X3 First Drive: New Design Details Make this Sporty SUV Even Better

The Front Seat In The 2023 Bmw X1

The front seat in the 2023 BMW X1. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Who This SUV is For

  • Singles, couples or small families – yes, families!
  • Parents of fur babies
  • Drivers who love the high ground clearance and flexible seats of an SUV
  • Entry level luxury SUV buyers
  • Buyers who want BMW’s latest tech at an affordable price

Related: The 2022 BMW iX Electric SUV is the Most Brilliant Bauble of them All

Flat Door Handles Lend To The Elegant Look

Flat door handles lend to the elegant look. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What You Need to Know 

  • The 2023 redesign incorporates details from BMW’s more premium cars and SUVs
  • This is BMW’s smallest SUV
  • All wheel drive is standard on all models
  • Fuel economy is estimated at 25 MPG city/34 highway
The Cantilevered Arm Rest Creates A Bit Of Open Storage Space Beneath

The cantilevered arm rest creates a bit of open storage space beneath. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What’s New in the 2023 BMW X1

Where do we start? With this: Everything. It’s bigger — taller, longer and wider— than the outgoing model. It has a less rounded rear end and there are certain details that stand out right away, like the flush exterior door handles and a less busy front end, that plus a modern vibe. 

On the interior, the makeover is cohesive and transformative. Gone are pieced-together elements like screens and panels, replaced by a single display panel for the multimedia system and the driver information screen. The screen is where you’ll find the new iDrive 8 multimedia system and Live Cockpit Pro driver information system; both the screen and system are found on all of BMW’s newly redesigned premium models like the 7 Series, i7 and X7, so this is a really nice addition to this compact SUV.

The cantilevered center arm rest, also a super elegant and modern detail, holds a command center with simplified functions including the gear selector, starter button, drive modes (for sport, normal and eco driving) and radio volume control. Underneath is an open storage space, and under the arm rest is a small storage space. There’s a vertical phone cubby, cup holders and two fast-charging USB-C ports. 

BMW offers SensaTec leatherette seating standard and it’s lovely; quilted, perforated, contrast stitched, you’d never know it’s not leather unless you know. 

Also standard is a full suite of driver assist and safety systems including blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning. 

And, so is all wheel drive, which BMW calls Xdrive. We love that this is standard. 

Related: Get Ready for Winter With a 2022 BMW M240i xDrive. Yes, Really

The Elegant New Front Seat In The 2023 Bwm X1

The elegant new front seat in the 2023 BWM X1. Photo: Scotty Reiss

“Hey BMW” Voice-First Commands Are the New Way of Doing Things 

BMW aficionados might instantly see something missing here:  there’s no iDial for the multimedia system. Like some other automakers, BMW is focusing on voice-first commands, allowing the driver to ask for things before taking her eyes off the r road to  search the media screen or command center. 

So, just say “Hey, BMW” to change the cabin temperature, set the radio station or find a coffee shop nearby. I tried this out and there’s a bit of a learning curve. After several tries, I learned the words the system needed to get back to my hotel. I suspect that the system will also learn my habits, too, in time. 

I asked BMW about the lack of the iDrive dial, and if this feature is going to be phased out. No, I was told; in the X1 the driver is close enough to the touch screen to easily reach its functions; that paired with voice assistance is the ideal set up. But in larger vehicles, such as the X7 and 7 Series, the iDrive dial will still be a feature. 

The 2023 Bmw X1

The 2023 BMW X1. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Does This More Powerful Engine Deliver All the Power You Need?

This was a real surprise: The 2023 X1 has nearly the same horsepower and more torque than the X3. The 4 cylinder turbo engine, which BMW calls the 28i, delivers 241 horsepower and 295 pound feet of torque; that’s up from 228 HP and 258 torque in the last model and similar to the X3 which delivers 248 HP and 258 torque, and carries a starting price of about $45,000.

Out on the road I found the X1 to be delightful behind the wheel. The twin turbo delivers 241 horsepower just fine, but the 295 torque delivers fast acceleration and even a giggle or a few, especially in sport mode. Driving around town, the X1 was exactly what I expected; quick to respond when the traffic light turned green, easy to brake, able to whip into a parking spot. 

But out on the highway I popped it into sport mode and it took on a bit more muscular personality: the engine is louder and growlier, and, faster. You definitely feel sport mode.

You can hear it, too. The engine and 7 speed dual clutch transmission (versus a more traditional transmission that you can feel shifting from one gear to the next, or a CVT which can be loud), are much louder in sport mode; the transmission maintains a higher engine speed just in case you decide to keep accelerating. In normal mode, though, the transmission was not easy to hear, which I appreciated. 

That Panoramic Sunroof!

That panoramic sunroof! Photo: Scotty Reiss

Even More Goodies for a Modest Few Dollars More

I was surprised at how reasonably priced BMW’s two option packages are: buyers can choose from Convenience ($1,950) and Premium ($4,500) and either are a bargain. This is what you get in the Premium package: 

  • Live Cockpit Pro with head up display
  • Surround view 3D camera
  • Harman Kardon surround sound system 
  • Panoramic sun roof
  • Smart key keyless entry
  • Wireless charge pad 
  • Auto dimming mirrors
  • Interior camera- that allows you to snap photos of the interior remotely
  • Anti-theft recorder: If the alarm system goes off you’ll get a notification so you can snap photos of the interior and from the exterior side view mirrors

The Convenience package includes a panoramic sunroof, smart key, wireless charging and auto dimming mirrors. 

Rear Seats In The 2023 Bmw X1

Rear seats in the 2023 BMW X1. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A More Spacious Rear Seat- Though Still a Tight Squeeze for Babies

This might be the reason buyers will opt for the X3 or X5, which have more rear seat room. While the X1 is larger, it’s still not huge for rear-facing kids car seats or a large dog crate. Though, it’s probably fine for kids in front facing car seats or booster seats, since those require less rear seat leg room, and larger dog crates will mostly likely fit in the cargo area.

I found the rear seat to be fine for me, and I liked the panoramic sunroof in our test model, but I can see how installing a child passenger car seat might be a challenge. However, there are two sets of LATCHes with lower anchor and top tethers in the two outboard seats, and a top tether in the center seat. 

Rear seats are positioned in a slightly reclined position; to position them more upright or to fold them flat, there is a woven loop in the seat bight, the space between the seat back and bottom; pulling this loop will fold the seat back down. To put it back up, just lift from the shoulder or headrest. It’s a simple setup but not immediately obvious — we’ve gotten used to buttons and levers to do these things. 

The Cargo Space Is Open And Roomy In The 2023 Bmw X1

The cargo space is open and roomy in the 2023 BMW X1. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Surprising Cargo and Towing 

Cargo space in the BMW X1 is good: there’s 25.7 cubic feet of space and with the rear seats folded, it increases to 57.2 cubic feet. That means, it’s fine for daily hauls like gym bags, groceries  and backpacks; will handle several wheeled travel bags and with the seats down is good for hauling small pieces of furniture, home improvement store runs and the like. 

If you need to bring more, though, the BMW X1 now has 3,500 lbs. of tow capacity. That’s a trailer with bikes, a small boat or a third wheel. Or, a U-Haul trailer if that’s what you need. 

The Phone Charger Is A Vertical Pad With A Hold Bar

The phone charger is a vertical pad with a hold bar. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Impressive Upgrades Propel this Small SUV into the Future 

I was immediately taken by the look and feel of the interior of the BMW X1. It’s modern and elegant and it feels more premium and future-forward than its price tag. Then, seeing how many of its details are incorporated in pricier BMW models is even more impressive. The drive experience was lovely, even fun, the seating is comfortable and the technology is top shelf. I love that there are some nice exterior and interior color choices (I prefer navy and creme to the orange and brown of our test model), so buyers can truly set the tone of their BMW X1 experience. And still come in under $48K. 

Disclosure: I was BMW’s guest for this test drive; travel and accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own.

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss