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How Well Does A BMW X1 Drive In The Snow? (Answered)

BMW is a brand known for making luxury vehicles that appeal primarily to young buyers. Be it their sedans or SUVs, buyers in their 20s to 40s are inclined more towards BMW out of the German carmakers than any other brands from Germany. Sensing the shift from sedans to SUVs, BMW also started offering different products for all SUV classes.

Being true to that excellent handling of BMWs, the X1 is not lacking in any way, whether you are driving it on dry paved roads or very slippery snowy roads. The integrated electronics do most of the work, keeping it firmly on the road surface, and where most vehicles get stuck, X1 would cruise through without a hitch.

BMW insists on calling it a Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) instead of a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) owing to its sporty characteristics and driving dynamics that offer an excellent combination of a powerful engine with the stance of an SUV.

However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s just the tip of the iceberg. We have all the aspects discussed in detail, and below we’ll start with a selection of curated comments from owners about the performance of BMW X1 in snowy conditions. After that, we’ll take a deep dive into the specifics of this SUV, such as tires, drive systems, and electronic support systems.

Finally, we’ll talk about the ground clearance, the weight distribution, and the wheelbase. We’ll finish with a few suggestions for optional traction devices that can provide even more grip. Read on!

Experience Of BMW X1 Owners

Like any vehicle, the numbers tell a very vague story about the vehicle’s capability to handle different terrains, and thus numbers alone mean nothing for drivers. The best way to determine whether this sub-compact SUV is a good winter-fit or not is to have an opportunity to drive it in winters and snow before drawing any conclusions.

Since BMW X1 is an SUV and, by default, it’s presumed to perform well in winters, there is nothing that can tell the story as transparently as having to experience it hands-on. So far on the internet, there have been quite a few forums where drivers have shared highly positive feedback about the X1.

It’s pretty good in my experience. I used to live upstate and we averaged ~80″ of snow every year, so I’m used to driving in a lot of snow. Just drove through the mountains in CO a few weeks back and got hit by a surprise snow storm. The X1 performed great, don’t think I really ever lost traction. Around town is the same story. Also, for what it’s worth, I’m on the factory Pirelli P7 RFTs with around 30k miles on them and they really need to be replaced.


I live in New England and currently at about a foot of snow. I have a very steep driveway and the X1 can drive up no problem without even clearing it at all. That’s with the stock Goodyear Eagle Sport RFT’s too.


I went from a WRX to the X1 MSport as well!

The WRX is probably the most fun car I’ve ever had when it came to driving in the snow. There was so much you can do in a car like that without really getting yourself in too much trouble. The X1 is great, but very different. It is extremely capable in the snow, but it is much more difficult to get the 4 wheel drift that comes so easily in the WRX.

I had Blizzaks on both and will always have them on any car I own from this point forward.


Does BMW X1 Have Snow Tires?

You get the all-season tires from the factory, which can do pretty good in all types of weather for sure, but they can’t give traction when you are driving in a lot of snow. And no matter what systems you have integrated to prevent your wheels from sliding, you will suffer in winter without snow tires.

These are the ones that you get from the factory, depending on your trim level and package. If you get the P225/50R18, you can look into the tirerack linked below and find the proper winter tire fitment.

If you live in a region that sees a lot of snow, then make sure to put on excellent snow tires so the wheels will remain happy with their relationship with the road. Otherwise, they will block their connection with it, and you will lose signal from the road, which will cost you a lot of time.

Why should you go with the snow tires? Well, snow tires have the following characteristics that make them suitable in heavy snow to black ice, and everything in between that winter has to offer.

The Tread Rubber

Extreme cold temperatures cause the tread rubber of an all-season or summer tire to stiffen and become less able to provide sufficient traction. To combat this, the tread rubber compounds of winter tires are composed such that they remain flexible, allowing the tire to grip the road better.

Tread Depth and Patterns

Unique to snow tires are deeper tread depths and unique tread patterns. Deeper tread depths reduce snow buildup and thus provide better traction on the snow. The tread patterns, too, are designed to channel snow and slush and expel water.

Biting Edges

Snow tires have many biting edges and high densities of small slits that increase the tread surface area, thus improving grip in wet, icy, and snowy conditions.

Have Snow Tires Equipped As Soon As Possible

If you want to buy snow tires, we advise you to use Tirerack. They have a great tool that allows you to find the perfect fit for your exact model, so you won’t have to worry about fitment issues. Furthermore, they also offer free shipping on most of their orders. Check out their store here!

What Drive System Does A BMW X1 Have?

2021 BMW X1 offers two types of drive systems viz the AWD and FWD. Both of these drive systems have been discussed down below.

All Wheel Drive

If you are looking for maximum traction, you can go with the xDrive28i that comes standard with all-wheel-drive and would be the best choice for snow driving. 

In AWD, the power is transferred to all four tires based on the weight distribution of each wheel. This results in more excellent stability and substantially improves car handling. Note that AWD is not the same as the 4-wheel drive (4WD), in which the engine transfers equal power to all four wheels.

Front-Wheel Drive

As the name suggests, the front-wheel-drive will transfer power to the front wheels. This system is not as great as the AWD regarding its snow drivability, but it does offer very good traction.

IF you are looking to save some money and opt for the FWD instead of an AWD, then it’s not a concern. You can easily get around with the FWD as you would in AWD. The integrated systems into the modern-day SUVs are incredibly subtle and would do most of the work, keeping itself firmly to the ground.

What Electronics System Helps The BMW X1 In The Snow?

The Adaptive Brake Assistant

This is like the ready alert braking, which you might be familiar with. BMW calls it the adaptive brake assistant. As the name suggests, this system will provide extra force in case of an emergency and reduce the stopping distance considerably by engaging the braking system even before you slam the brakes in a crisis. 


Why is ABS so important? The Anti-lock Braking System is now a standard feature in all modern-day vehicles. This system would ensure that the wheels won’t lock when you slam the brakes, in an emergency, or even in a normal situation. This feature will prevent your tires from sliding, thus increasing traction several notches.

Had it not been for the ABS, hard braking would have locked the wheels while turning and steering at the same time, and if the wheels do get locked and you happen to be turning, then that situation is a recipe for disaster.

It would be best if you never disabled ABS in any condition. If someone tells you that turning off ABS will help you in the snow, they lie. Without ABS, things will always go sideways.


Different manufacturers brand their stability control systems variably. BMW likes to call its system Dynamic Stability Control. In essence, its job moniker states it all. It is designed to maintain the vehicle’s stability against external forces so that the driver can push the car out of a situation that causes a loss of stability.

DSC sensors monitor vehicle speed, wheel rotation, lateral acceleration, brake pressure, and yaw, which is the vehicle’s ability to rotate around its vertical axis. That’s a mouthful, but the DSC is an intelligent and robust system that instantly detects and corrects loss of traction, allowing for better vehicle maneuvering in winters.

Automatic Differential Brake

This is probably one of the most notable features in modern-day vehicles. It distributes the braking force on all four wheels according to the grip they have. It will maximize the braking efficiency, and the stopping distance will be significantly reduced.

If one wheel has the probability of skidding, the brake will be applied to the wheel with more traction while maintaining the vehicle’s stability.

Dynamic Traction Control

Almost everyone is familiar with traction control systems. The main job of a traction control system is to ensure the loss of traction is minimized. It is a regulation system that enhances the driver’s control over the vehicle by controlling the traction at the wheels. If a wheelspin is detected, the traction system cuts the power off from that wheel to minimize wheelspin.

Wheelspin is the main factor that results in a loss of traction for the most part, and this worsens the driving conditions in winters and snow. Traction control will ensure that such behavior is nullified and maximum traction can be made available at all four wheels at all times, thereby reducing the threat of an unpleasant event.

Drive Off Assistant

Specially designed to make uphill start smoother and more accessible. When you release the brakes on a slope, the vehicle will remain steady for approximately 2 seconds, in which you would be able to press on the gas and move the car upwards.

Weight Distribution

BMW X1 lies around 3600 lbs. The curb weight is crucial because it impacts the performance and safety of the vehicle. Lighter cars have better fuel economy, respond quicker to acceleration, and have better performance. Heavier cars are safer, provide better protection to the occupants when involved in a crash, and have better road traction.

A more critical spec is the weight distribution. It impacts several key performance parameters such as response to acceleration/deceleration, cornering stability. Ideally, while braking, the weight distribution should be equal on all four tires.

Typically, the weight distribution differs in each trim level, and on top of that can vary even among the same trim levels due to different packages and add ons.

When it comes to weight distribution, no one comes close to making a perfect 50/50 weight distribution throughout their lineups as the BMW does. No matter which BMW you pick, 50/50 weight distribution will be there. And that’s precisely why BMW’s handling is considered on the top of the automotive industry. A lot of R&D goes into achieving that perfect 50/50 split.

2021 ModelsWeight Distribution F/R
BMW X1 xDrive28i50/50
BMW X1 sDrive28i50/50

Also read: The 3 Main Differences Between BMW xDrive and sDrive

Ground Clearance

When deciding on buying a vehicle to drive in snow, ground clearance is an important aspect. Ground clearance is the distance between the chassis and the ground and is one of the essential dimensions of any vehicle. Lower ground clearance means more likelihood of the underbelly of the car scratching against the ground.

The low ground clearance can be a significant issue if you live in an area with lots of snowfall. The higher the ground clearance, the better. We know it, and there is no way to refute this. Higher ground clearance adds to the vehicle’s winter-aptness.

A vehicle can easily knife through thick layers of snow with higher ground clearance, as that is one central point of concern for any winter driver. The sweet spot of ground clearance comes at 8 inches and above.

BMW X1 has 7.2 inches of ground clearance which is not bad at all, and the reviews have made it very clear that the X1 performs very well in snowy conditions. So if you are looking to buy the X1 and you live in a region with quite a lot of snow, then the BMW X1 won’t be a wrong choice at all.

Vehicles do get stuck on those piles left by the plows on the sides, so make sure to steer clear from those. Drive on the tire marks left by other vehicles after the plow, and you will be all good.


The wheelbase is the distance between the centers of the front and the rear tires. The wheelbase dimensions affect the vehicle’s weight distribution and are vital in determining the balance and steering. Having a more extended wheelbase means that the car would be more stable at higher speeds.

On the other hand, vehicles with short wheelbase can usually corner faster but are less aerodynamic. In other words, a longer wheelbase translates into more stability because in cars with a longer wheelbase, the onset of sliding is delayed, thus giving the driver more time to make adjustments.

The X1 comes with a wheelbase of 105.1 inches. With the BMW’s 50/50 weight distribution, no matter what the wheelbase is, you would have that pristine handling even when traveling on a lot of snow. 

What Traction Device You Can Use On The BMW X1?

Drivers in areas where they see heavy snow and severe winters, there are a few devices that can come to your rescue’ snow traction devices’ as they like to call them. One of such devices is Cable chains. Cables chains can assist with building traction at the tires, and drivers can have a better driving experience than driving without them.

In addition to the built-in stability and control features, several alternates, such as snow tires (which we have already discussed), snowplows, and chains, are available that can be used in heavy snow. Each has its pros and cons.

Snow tires are expensive and require professionals to install and uninstall. In contrast, snow chains are relatively cheaper and easy to put on and take off but are more damaging to dry pavements and the car itself.

There are various options for one to choose from the plethora of available products in the Class S chain cables. Amazon is one marketplace where you can easily find quite a few options for Class S cable chains.

Keeping in mind all of the suggestions, we would recommend using the Peerlesschain, where you can find which chain would be the one for your tires as fitment is a crucial aspect when searching for snow chains. S class chains are recommended mainly by manufacturers, and on this site, you will be able to choose from many different options.

If you are equipped with the P225/50R18, you can have the Z-555 linked here on Amazon. Most drivers use these chain cables to enhance stability in winters and snowy conditions. It is always better to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent.

Happy driving.

Also read: Types Of Gas A BMW X1 Takes (Explained)