They'll be able to bring some of their gear as well, as the X1 offers a solid 14.2 cu-ft of space with the rear seats up. Lose the rear passengers and cock the seats forward to a nearly vertical cargo position and the space expands to 17.2 cu-ft, almost the size of the cavernous trunk on the new 5 Series. Drop the seats all the way forward and you've got 47.3 cu-ft of space to haul everything you need for a very, very long weekend. Remember that 3 Series wagon mentioned earlier? It offers only 1.5 more cubic-feet of storage with the seats up and less than 2 cubic-feet more with the seats down.

Of course, if you do need to bring a third or fourth passenger, there are other options. The seats split 40/20/40 with the center pass-through offering space for two golf bags (since they won't fit in the back sideways), four pairs of skis or two snowboards. Drop either side seat along with the middle seat to make even more room for gear. For the little stuff, there's even a partitioned space under the cargo floor to keep it all organized.

Up in the front, anyone familiar with BMWs will recognize the dash as belonging to the Bavarian automaker. From the dual-gauge instrument cluster to the second-generation iDrive controller, the dash and center stack are unmistakably BMW. Thanks to the X1's narrowness, all of the controls are within easy reach, helped by the fact that BMW angles all of its center stacks slightly towards the driver. Pushing as many vehicle systems as possible to the iDrive interface keeps the dash clean and uncluttered while maintaining functionality. A single cup holder is augmented by a removable cup holder that fits into a slot near the front passenger's left knee and bottle-friendly cubbies in all four doors.

So where does the X1 fit then? Is it a taller 3 Series Wagon, or a modern incarnation of the original, more compact X3? In reality, it's both. And while it won't offer you the cavernous cargo capacity of a vehicle like the Subaru Outback (our 2010 Motor Trend Sport/Utility of the Year), it will go just as many places with a lot more style, although you'll pay a higher price for it. If you want to look as good as the fun you're having, than the X1 will likely make a fine choice. Too bad you'll have to wait more than a year to choose it here.

2011 BMW X1 xDrive28i
Base price$33,000 (est)
Vehicle layoutFront-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 5-door SUV
Engine Engines3.0L/258-hp/228-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve I-6
Transmissions6-speed automatic
Curb weight3750 lb (mfr)
Wheelbase108.7 in
Length x width x height 175.4 x 70.8 x 60.9 in
0-60 mph 6.8 sec (mfr est)
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 20/30 mpg (est)
CO2 emissions 0.88 lb/mile (est)
On sale in U.S. Early 2011