If you are a fan of BMW sports sedans, but could use an SUV for some off-road adventures, the new BMW X-1 might be for you. Under the hood is a tiny 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine cranking out 240 horsepower and hooked to an 8-speed automatic gearbox. Gas mileage is rated at 24 mpg city, and 34 on the highway. I averaged 28 overall during spirited driving. An optional turbo six- cylinder engine is offered. Those who like to shift for themselves might be disappointed to learn the 6-speed manual tranny is not available, but the automatic has a manual override, and is a far superior unit. Try it and you will forget about the manual, trust me!
The X-1 has the best seats I have ever sat in. I spent 11 hours driving 650 miles, and was never uncomfortable. I found engine power to be more than enough. It is also quiet when under way, but sounds like a boat outboard motor at idle. I did some light off-roading, and there is enough ground clearance on most dirt trails. But keep in mind this is really a car, not a truck, so you must still be careful. On the street, the X-1 was a blast to drive, with handling very close to the 328 sports sedan I drove previously.
The only complaint I have was with the issue run-flat tires. They provide a nasty rough ride, are noisy, and totally defeat the excellent suspension design that BMW engineers provide. The “advantage” of this rubber is, that when deflated, they can run about 50 miles to a repair station. But if you are driving on the highway, and the nearest town is further away, you are screwed, as there is no spare tire issued. For those who take the X-1 off-road, this can be a disaster! Also replacement run-flat tires run about $1,800 for a set of four compared to about $1,000 for a set of high quality conventional performance tires. Some BMW dealers refuse to sell spare tires, but I found one that was willing to special order a compact with jack, but it will set you back about $650. Better than walking!
Base price starts at $30,650. This includes plenty of standard equipment too long to list here. Loaded up with everything, including the bigger engine can push these up to the $50 grand mark! A really nice vehicle, but watch that option list.
RANGE ROVER EVOQUE
Next was the Range Rover Evoque. This is one of the sharpest vehicles out there, and mine was even better with that lime green paint. It is a bit more than the BMW, starting at $45,000. With goodies like leather, upgraded stereo, outside cameras, heated seats, and other stuff, mine listed at $60,895.
While this was intended to be an off-roader, it does not come with low-range gearing or height adjustable suspension like other Range Rovers. But it does get the computer Terrain Response system that adjusts for mud, sand, snow, and rock crawling. The only engine is a 2.0 liter four- cylinder rated at 240 horsepower. Gas mileage is listed at 18-28, but the best I ever saw was 16-23. On the street, the Evoque is fun to drive, and has sporty handling ability. It’s a classy machine, just too bad it costs so much.
The previous Pathfinder was a rough truck-based rig that was intended for rough off-road driving. Not any more. This new one is based on the Altima sedan platform–not that it can’t go in the dirt. The ground clearance is high, and an all-wheel drive can be ordered, but no real 4-wheel drive unit will be offered. But for hauling people and gear, this is hard to beat.
Under the hood is the proven 3.5 liter V-6 hooked to a CVT automatic gearbox. Gas mileage is listed at 20-26, far better than the previous one that got 14-20. The interior is well designed, and all controls easy to use. The base price of $29,000 is reasonable, but these can reach $44 grand when loaded up. If that seems too high, keep in mind this is the same basic vehicle as the Infiniti JX-35 that reaches the $55,000 mark!