Is the Cheapest New BMW SUV Worth Your Attention?

by Gabrielle DeSantis

Are you in the market for a new luxury SUV under $40,000? Chances are, if you are, the 2021 BMW X1 is somewhere on your list of new SUVs to check out. But is the cheapest new BMW SUV actually worth your attention? Let’s find out. 

Which new BMW SUV is the cheapest?

BMW’s new lineup features several SUVs. But if you’re in the market for a cheap new BMW SUV? Look no further than the 2021 BMW X1. This year’s model starts at $35,400 and is available in two trim levels. Upgrading to a more well-equipped trim level won’t have you breaking the bank, either. In fact, upgrade from the base BMW X1 to the X1 xDrive28i, and you’ll still be spending less than $40,000 on this new BMW SUV.

Driving the 2021 BMW X1

2021 BMW X1 | BMW

The 2021 BMW X1 may be the cheapest new BMW SUV, but what is it like to drive? Well, according to Consumer Reports, driving this new BMW SUV is similar to driving a sedan. It comes powered by a 228-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that’s teamed with an eight-speed automatic transmission and provides both “ample motivation” and very smooth shifts. 

The bad news, however, is that the 2021 BMW X1  “doesn’t impress you with its handling precision.” In fact, according to Consumer Reports, driving an SUV like the Ford Escape is just as rewarding. The organization explained that the X1’s lackluster handling could be attributed to the SUV’s front-wheel drive platform, which is shared with the Mini Cooper Clubman.

The good news is that Car and Driver had a much better time behind the wheel of the 2021 BMW X1. In fact, while Consumer Reports gave the X1 a somewhat disappointing review, Car and Driver reports that this year’s new BMW X1 “delivers much of the same crisp handling and ride refinement that the BMW brand is known for.” 

The 2021 BMW X1 interior

The interior of the 2021 BMW X1, featuring leather seating and a touchscreen display
2021 BMW X1 interior. | BMW

As for the BMW X1’s interior? According to Car and Driver, it’s “nicely appointed with mostly premium materials.” Unfortunately, there are plenty of cheaper materials used throughout its interior too. Its glovebox door is just as flimsy as a plastic lunchbox. Meanwhile, the bin hidden under the front seat “feels as if BMW bought it in bulk from a dollar-store fire sale,” reports Car and Driver.

Consumer Reports made a similar assessment of the cheapest new BMW SUV, adding that its front seats are small and narrow and don’t provide the driver with much thigh support. Some reviewers also complained that the seat’s cushion pushed into the underside of their thigh. As for rearseat accommodations? According to Consumer Reports, while the X1’s second-row provides adequate headroom, it isn’t quite as welcoming as the Audi Q3.

Materials and space aside, the 2021 BMW X1 does come well-stocked with features. In fact, opting for the base X1 sDrive28i gets you standard features like 8-way power front seats with 1-way manual headrests, automatic climate control with micro-filter and air recirculation, a premium 7-speaker sound system, and Apple CarPlay.

How this new BMW SUV compares to the competition 

A grey 2021 BMW X1 driving up a hill, the 2021 BMW X1 is the cheapest new BMW SUV
2021 BMW X1 | BMW

While the 2021 BMW X1 is the cheapest new BMW SUV, chances are it’s not the only new luxury SUV on your list. In fact, according to U.S. News & World Report, if you’re shopping for a luxury subcompact SUV, you’re probably considering the Mercedes Benz GLA and the Audi Q3 too. Let’s talk about the Mercedes Benz GLA first.

According to U.S. News, while the Mercedes-Benz GLA makes for a compelling choice among the luxury subcompact SUV segment, it comes up short compared to the BMW X1. It not only delivers less impressive performance, but its touch screen is roughly two inches smaller than the X1’s. It also provides eight cubic feet less of overall cargo room. And when it comes to pricing? While the BMW X1 starts at $35,400, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA starts at $36,230.

As for the Audi Q3? On the inside, it looks and feels more luxurious than the BMW X1, U.S. News reports. It also comes standard with more features, including leather seating. Unlike the BMW X1, the Audi Q3 also features Android Auto. The Audi Q3 is a cheaper alternative to the BMW X1 too. That being said, the X1 does offer sharper handling and more cargo space than its Audi competition.

Is the 2021 BMW X1 worth buying?

The 2021 BMW X1 may be the cheapest new BMW SUV, but there’s no denying that it gets some fairly mixed reviews. Before deciding whether or not this year’s model is worth buying, we recommend getting behind the wheel for a test drive. After all, that is the best way to determine whether or not this new BMW SUV is the right fit for you. 

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