When the BMW X1 Powder Ride was delivered for testing, my neighbors probably thought I got a job with a local ski resort. The Powder Ride has distinctive decaling and a lockable ski box roof rack (with a ski/snowboard bag) that can also be used for items other than skis. This limited-run special edition AWD Sports Activity Vehicle is an eye-grabber, even more so had it appeared in January instead of July. As usual, I get 4WD test vehicles in summer and convertibles in winter.
But the X1 by itself is a commendable compact that completes BMW’s SUV-type offerings with their full-size X5 and midsize X3 AWD vehicles.
Aside from the cosmetics and ski box on the Power Ride that’s intended for ski and snowboarding bums, the X1 without those attractions comes in three flavors of, sDrive28i for the rear-wheel drive model, xDrive28i all-wheel drive version and hot xDrive35i AWD that comes with a 3.0L, turbocharged 6-cylinder that produces a whopping 300-hp and 300 lb/ft of torque. As for the other two, they come standard with a 2.0L, turbo 4-cylinder producing 240-hp and 258 lb/ft of torque within a low 1,250 rpm to 4,800-rpm range. This powerplant couples to an 8-speed automatic transmission whereas the 3.0L transfers its power through a 6-speed auto trans.
With the base engine there’s no want for power, especially when the turbo’s kick in. It’s been 0-60 tested at 6.2 seconds compared to the 3.0L that has been timed at 5.3 seconds. And although it’s a four-banger, the 2.0L runs quietly.
The 2.0L comes with start/stop technology but it seemed to take a long time for the engine to shut down at lengthy stoplights. Then when starting up again, the starter can be heard cranking up the engine. While this technology helps mileage a bit, it’s not reflected in X1’s EPA mileage estimates of 22 city, 33-highway mpg.
Interior accommodations are typical BMW quality. A low step-in of 17.5 inches and 26.5-inch cargo lift height make both an easy affair.
X1s front seats are comfy with only a slight touch of lateral support. Perhaps BMW designed them that way to accommodate bulky ski clothes that would be a bind if they were more aggressive.
Back seat ingress/egress is on the tight side for long-legged folks and the seats are relatively flat yet comfortable.
Back in the cargo area that measures 34 inches deep, 39 wide and 30 high (14.8 cubic feet), flipping the 60/40 rear seats extends depth to 62 inches (47.7). And there’s a tad more space under the floor where a partitioned bin can hold small items out of view.
Up in the cockpit, the 8-speed auto trans gets into gear with an electronic shifter that takes some time getting used to. It’s not snappy quick activation like a traditional linkage. But then this shifter is used in all BMW vehicles.
For the AWD capability, BMW’s xDrive also uses an electronic clutch linked to sensors that work in conjunction with stability control to send torque to all four wheels when needed. BMW also includes a hill descent control that automatically slows the X1s speed down hills - which saves the brakes.
All HVAC controls are sensibly placed and iDrive electronic interface commands infotainment and other functions, but, again, takes some getting used to.
With its 3-Series size, the X1 handles superbly and parks easily. The ride is compliant on Pirelli 18-inch tires and not harsh considering its dimensions. And unimproved railroad crossings are nicely dampened.
Price wise, it’s about on par with its competition including Audi’s Q5 and Mercedes’ GLK. My test car bottom-lined at $42,245 after a base of $32,350. The price escalated after adding roof rails ($1,650), delivery ($895) and the Ultimate Premium Package ($5,650). For that you get a panoramic sunroof that allows fresh air in but no sun since the ski box blocks the rays, leather upholstery, garage opener, heated seats, headlamp washers (for winter road salt grime), voice command GPS nav, rearview camera sans parking assist lines and much more. Oh, and when buying an X1 Powder Ride you get a specially designed pair of K2 LTD Powder Ride skis.
For folks who would like to sample a taste of BMW quality, the X1 is a compelling vehicle offering some utility and all weather traction.
To test drive an X1 yourself, stop by Daniels BMW off Route 309 in South Whitehall Township. And to automatically receive auto news and reviews from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.