New Car Review: 2013 BMW X1

Front 3/4 view driving shot of white 2013 BMW X1

Comes a point when a crossover becomes so carlike that the term "crossover", much less "small SUV", no longer really fits.

The BMW X1 is at that point. With low ground clearance, this really is more a station wagon than anything else, though BMW likely won't be happy I said that.

The good news is, it's a very good station wagon...and rather attractively priced, too.

All this comes as a surprise because BMW's Sport Activity vehicles thus far, the X5 and X3, have started out big and heavy and simply gotten bigger and heavier. The tidy dimensions of the X1 are a pleasant change of direction.

Base price is a reasonable $30,650. For that, you get a 2-liter 16-valve four cylinder turbo, an 8-speed automatic transmission and automatic stop and start (shutting the engine off at red lights and re-starting when your foot comes off the brake). Those three things combine to deliver some remarkably good fuel economy...an EPA estimated 24 city, 34 highway.

That entry price also delivers halogen fog lamps, dynamic stability control, brake energy regeneration, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and dynamic brake control, rain-sensing wipers, a 3-spoke leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, standard Bluetooth, and AM/FM/CD audio system with HD Radio, iPod and USB adapters, and a full complement of passive safety features.

Take one with zero options and you've got a capable, well-equipped machine.

Rear 3/4 view closeup of 2013 BMW X1

However, the BMW press fleet folks checked a few option boxes on the one we drove for a week, adding $3,000 for the M Sport Line package (sport suspension, special aerodynamic front and rear bumpers and side skirts, sport seats with cloth/Alcantara upholstery and variable ambient lighting), $1,200 for the lighting package (more ambient lighting inside, Xenon headlamps and automatic high beams), $3,950 for the Premium Package (universal garage door opener, keyless entry, panoramic moonroof, auto-dimming mirrors, power front seats, lumbar support, and an interior mirror with a compass), $250 for Servotronic power steering, $350 for satellite radio with a one-year subscription and $895 destination charge. Total as-tested price: $40,295.

Interior shot of 2013 BMW X1

In BMWland, that's still not big money. But getting one for nearly $10,000 less sounds way more compelling. You're still getting the impeccable BMW road manners and high-quality materials and workmanship.

There's only one feature I'd like to have veto power over...and that's the standard auto stop-start. Yes, it helps deliver strong gas mileage...but a quick peek in the owner's manual reveals a warning that it can cause premature wear of the parts involved (presumably the starter)...and that could be an expensive fix when it happens.