View the BMW X1 this week.

BMW used to offer the X1, the company’s smallest (and most affordable) crossover, in two versions — one front-wheel drive and the other all-wheel drive (which BMW markets as xDrive).

For 2023, the X1 comes in just one version — with xDrive AWD standard.

It also comes standard with more power and slightly better gas mileage.

Of course, it comes with something else for just those reasons, that being a higher base price. However, its price is still lower than that of its main rival, the Mercedes GLB250, which doesn’t come standard with AWD but does come standard with less power.

The Audi A3, another possible cross-shop, comes standard with a lower base price and standard AWD. But it also comes standard with about 60 less horsepower.

So maybe one size does fit all — or better, at least.

What It Is

The X1 is, per the above, BMW’s smallest crossover, as well as its entry-level crossover.

BMW used to offer it in front-wheel drive (which was marketed as sDrive) and xDrive (all-wheel drive) but has changed that up for the new model year.

 The 2023 X1 now comes in just one version, the $36,600 xDrive28i.

Its main rival, the Benz GLB250, stickers for $39,800 to start, without AWD (which Benz markets as 4Matic). Equipped with the optional 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, the Mercedes stickers for $41,800.

What’s New For 2023

 In addition to standard AWD and more standard power, the 2023 X1 has a new look and an updated iDrive interface, which is now operated by touch screen rather than the previous rotary knob controller. A full-width digital/flat-screen instrument cluster is also standard, as well as configurable ambient interior lighting that can be made to shift colors in time with whatever music you’re listening to.

What’s Good

Lower price buys you more power and better performance relative to Benz GLB.

Though compact in size, the X1 is roomy inside.

Quick and agile.

What’s Not So Good

 If you don’t want AWD, you still have to pay for it.

 GLB is available with third-row seating.

 Heated seats are optional.

Under The Hood

The X1’s standard and only engine is a 2.0-liter turbo’d four — as before. But there are some differences this year.

The first is more power. For 2023, the engine has been upgraded to 241 horsepower (versus 228 last year). This is good because it compensates for the ’23 being about 200 pounds heavier than the ’22, almost all of that being due to the other difference, that being the ’23 comes standard with AWD while the ’22 only offered it.

The AWD-equipped ’23 curb weight is 3,750 pounds versus 3,554 for the SDrive (i.e., front-wheel-drive) ’22 X1.

Also new is the standard, and only available, transmission. The previous eight-speed automatic has been retired in favor of a seven-speed automatic, which has one less gear but shifts faster, being a dual-clutch automatic.

The net result is about the same — zero to 60 in 5.4 seconds and 25 mpg city, 34 mpg highway (versus 24 mpg city, 33 mpg highway for the ’22 X1).

On The Road

This little BMW may not look much different from other small crossovers — indeed, many non-luxury-brand small crossovers seem to be trying hard to look like it — but when you drive it, you will feel the difference. Most small crossovers take seven to eight seconds to get to 60.

What you’re paying for here is the ability to get there a lot more quickly.

This isn’t just about that, either.

The X1’s responsiveness is also noticeably sharper, which is surely due to the very quick gear-changing action of the new seven-speed dual clutch automatic. These transmissions reduce the overlap in between gear changes versus a traditional automatic that serves almost like a shift kit did back in the day — for those who remember those days. The difference between then and now being these extremely quick shifts are not accompanied by the neck-jerking snap that you got when you installed a shift kit back in the day.

It also corners very crisply, especially for a crossover with 8.1 inches of ground clearance.

At The Curb

Styling-wise, the X1 is generically handsome. The exterior cosmetic changes are many but minor, with the overall shape now a little more angular looking than before. But you have to park the ’23 alongside the ’22 for the differences to really stand out.

The big drama is inside.

The analog gauges of last year are gone, and a new full-panel LCD touch screen is in. It is basically two displays on the same sheet. To the left, a configurable instrument cluster (you can change the appearance and readouts according to three different themes — Personal, Sport and Efficient) and to the right, another that displays the menus for the numerous apps/vehicle systems. There is still a thumbwheel controller for the audio system’s volume, which is wonderful because you can operate it by feel rather than sight. But pretty much everything else, including tuning and the heater/AC/fan controls, has to be operated by tapping the touch screen.

The Rest

One thing this BMW lacks may surprise you, given this is a BMW. It is that heated seats aren’t standard. They are a $500 option. This is pretty unusual in that most new cars that cost even $25,000 generally come standard with seat heaters now. And this BMW is an almost $40,000 car — before you pay the $500 for the seat heaters.

The Bottom Line

It’s not easy to make a crossover look like it stands out from the crowd, but a more attractive price for more standard equipment and power can serve the same purpose.

Eric’s latest book, “Doomed: Good Cars Gone Wrong!” will be available soon. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at