Test Drive:2018 BMW X2

Christian Wardlaw, Independent Expert | Mar 12, 2018


By the end of 2018, BMW will sell the following SUV models in America: X1, X2, X3, X4, X5, X6, and X7. Naturally, the lower the number, the more affordable the vehicle's base price. Odd numbers denote Sports Activity Vehicles (SAVs) while even numbers denote Sports Activity Coupes (SACs). The SACs are smaller inside compared to the SAVs, but they offer more dramatic exterior styling and typically come with more standard equipment.

You could say that SAVs are about function, while SACs are about form.

2018 BMW X2 xDrive20d M Sport front quarter left photoThe latest member of the family is the 2018 BMW X2, which is based on the same platform and powertrain as the boxy X1. BMW invited me to drive the new X2 for a couple of hours, and my test vehicle came with M Sport X trim and nearly every option, pegging the price at nearly $51,000.

Styling and Design

With the new X2, BMW takes a different tactic with its exterior styling. Whereas the X4 and X6 models are dramatically rakish, the X2 is more conventionally styled. At the same time, though, it is obviously different from the X1 upon which it is based, smaller dimensionally, equipped with a faster roofline, and decorated with new design details such as the BMW roundel on the rear roof pillars.

If it is true that styling is among the most important attributes people consider when selecting a new vehicle, the X2 should prove itself palatable to more consumers than have the X4 and X6. An M Sport X trim upgrade replaces the dark gray body cladding with a lighter Frozen Gray color, installs larger aluminum wheels, and equips the X2 with other performance-inspired enhancements.

Inside, the X2 hews closely to the X1 in terms of design and materials, but good luck getting Magma Red leather in the latter. And that's OK. Interior trim choices include gloss black, wood, or aluminum, helping you to create a cabin that's trendy, luxurious, or sporty.

As far as cargo capacity goes, the X2 is smaller than many other vehicles you could buy for the same price, but is definitely larger than an equivalent luxury-brand car. Behind the rear seats, the X2 supplies 21.6 cu. ft. of cargo. Fold the seats down for 50.1 cu. ft. of space.

Features and Controls

BMW offers the new X2 in three "tiers" of trim: Simplicity, Convenience, and Premium. Simplicity is a euphemism for base, or standard, equipment.

Convenience adds auto-dimming mirrors, power-folding side mirrors, Comfort Access keyless entry, panoramic sunroof, universal garage door opener, and a free one-year subscription to satellite radio.

Premium adds heated front seats, heated steering wheel, head-up display, navigation system with real-time traffic, and BMW ConnectedDrive remote services access to certain vehicle features using your smartphone.

In addition to these tiers of equipment and the previously mentioned M Sport X upgrade, BMW offers a Driving Assistance package and a Dynamic Handling package. Individual options include a premium surround-sound system, Apple CarPlay, Wi-Fi hotspot, park-assist sensors, and an adaptive cruise control system with an Active Driving Assistant.

The key to using a BMW is to skim through the owner's manual, get everything set up the way you want it, and then wait. A week. Maybe two. After this period of time, everything becomes second nature. In fact, you come to recognize that what at first appears to be complexity is actually accessibility. But there is a learning curve before you get to that point.

Safety and Technology

The latest version of BMW's iDrive infotainment system is an example of how the company is honing its technologies in order to simplify them, or make them less distracting and the features they offer more accessible.

Now equipped with a touch-screen display, BMW's next-generation iDrive 6.0 offers an improved interface that is more natural to first-time users. Personally, I prefer to use the iDrive control on the center console, but that's because I have plenty of experience with them and how they work. And that's why I assert that with time and acclimation, the system is actually intuitive and easy to use without looking down and away from the road.

Upgrades include satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, Wi-Fi hotspot, and a Harman-Kardon premium surround-sound system. Next year, CarPlay will be included at no cost but you'll need to pay a subscription fee to use it. Navigation is also available at extra cost, complete with real-time traffic data, as is a head-up display that is nearly impossible to see if you're wearing polarized sunglasses.

Every X2 is equipped with BMW Assist eCall service including SOS emergency request and automatic collision notification. An optional Driving Assistance package adds forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, low-speed automatic emergency braking system, automatic high-beam headlights, and speed limit information. Additionally, the 2018 X2 can be fitted with adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability.

Driving Impressions

Driving time was limited to small-town streets, desert highways, and winding canyon roads. BMW quotes acceleration to 60 mph in as few as 6.3 seconds, courtesy of a turbocharged, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 228 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. Get the X2 in sDrive28i specification and it has front-wheel drive (FWD). For all-wheel drive (AWD), choose the X2 xDrive28i.

An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard, and supplies a Sport driving mode as well as manual gear selection. With M Sport X spec, the automatic is calibrated for quicker and sharper operation to go along with that version's sportier looks. Furthermore, the X2 offers the driver Eco Pro, Comfort, and Sport driving modes.

Unlike most BMWs, the X2's weight distribution puts 56.2% of the tested xDrive28i's 3,662-lb. mass over the front end. And while my test vehicle did have 19-in. summer performance tires in place of the standard all-season rubber, it did not include the optional Dynamic Handling package and its M Sport steering and dynamic damper control systems.

As such, on unfamiliar canyon roads with poorly banked corners and blind decreasing-radius surprises, the X2 was a bit more difficult to drive quickly and smoothly. With that said, if you take a road you know well this compact crossover ought to handle with remarkable ease, and in Sport mode can tackle the twisties with tenacity.

It helps that the xDrive AWD system variably distributes the engine's power depending on numerous factors. And if you decide to travel off the pavement, remember that with just 7.2 ins. of ground clearance the trail had better be well-worn.

In town and on the highway, where you'll spend most of your time driving it, the X2 is zippy and nimble, and as is true of other BMWs, it is easy to exceed the speed limit, which makes the head-up display's near total invisibility while wearing polarized sunglasses all the more frustrating because it supplies speed limit information to help a driver avoid tickets.

Do know, however, that if you live in a region where the road surface is coarse, lots of road noise is transferred to the cabin, becoming a constant companion that almost requires the upgrade to the Harman-Kardon sound system. Gotta drown it out somehow.


With the new X2, BMW has created an appealing alternative to both the X1 and, depending on your priorities, the larger X3. The X2 is undeniably more stylish than either of those boxier-looking vehicles, and provides reasonably rousing performance combined with the added utility inherent to a crossover SUV.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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