As if the encroachment of front-wheel-drive-based platforms into the BMW fold weren’t enough, the new, front-drive-based 2016 X1 is also more expensive than the rear-drive-based X1 it replaces. It really isn’t as bad as it sounds, as competitors such as the Mercedes-Benz GLA-class and the Audi Q3 are also based on humble front-drive underpinnings and are priced in the same neighborhood as the BMW. But still, the mid-$30K space isn’t exactly bargain-land.
Where the $35,795 BMW seems expensive is in the base-price game. Mercedes and Audi can advertise lower entry prices ($33,150 and $34,625, respectively), but that’s because both automakers’ base-spec baby crossovers come with two-wheel drive. The BMW comes standard with xDrive all-wheel drive. Compare the MSRPs of the least-expensive, AWD models from BMW, Audi, and Benz, and there’s near parity, with the Mercedes being slightly cheaper and the Audi being slightly higher. So far, BMW is offering the X1 just one way, as the X1 xDrive28i, meaning all-wheel drive with the brand’s ubiquitous turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.
Only a handful of packages are offered, including the $550 Cold Weather package (heated seats), the $1550 Luxury package (wood or aluminum trim, leather seats), and the $2550 Technology kit (navigation, BMW apps, head-up display, and “enhanced” USB and Bluetooth phone integration). Want more luxury than the Luxury package offers? Good, because getting that package requires the $3250 Premium package and its auto-dimming mirrors, keyless entry, lumbar adjustment, satellite radio, universal garage door opener, LED headlights, power-folding door mirrors, ambient lighting, and panoramic sunroof. There are two Driver Assistance packages, one with parking sensors and a backup camera ($1150), and a “Plus” version with lane-departure warning, collision warning, and automatic low-speed braking capability for $700, which sounds like a steal until BMW hits you with another $1200 for navigation, which is bundled with the safety gear unless the Tech package is also selected. For another $1000, you can add adaptive cruise control to the mix, but the Driver Assistance Plus gear is required to do so. Of course, BMW lets buyers pick from a few options a la carte, including the panoramic sunroof ($1350), the aforementioned navigation ($1200), 19-inch wheels ($600), and a Harmon/Kardon audio system ($875).
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Fully loaded with every available package and option, the X1 manages the shocking feat of staying under the $50,000 mark, ringing in at $48,970. For a modern BMW to not reach $50K is something of a revolution (the previous-generation X1 topped out in similar territory, albeit with its optional turbocharged six-cylinder engine). By comparison, a maxed-out Mercedes-Benz GLA250 runs out of breath at the same $47,000–$49,000 altitude, but the Q3 fizzles out just past $45,000. The point is this: Small crossovers are where the market is going, so you can’t really blame luxury automakers for charging the same for one of these as they once did for the one-size-up rides such as the X3, the Q5, and the GLC neé GLK-class. The opportunity is just too great.