2014 BMW X5 – First Drive


Among the more recent additions to the off-road genre, it seems like hard to believe this is BMW’s third iteration of the X5, a vehicle that first arrived in 1999 but seems to have quickly become portion of the established hierarchy.

With its introduction, BMW coined the phrase Sports Activity Vehicle and were the first to introduce independent suspension and a monocoque body for the segment.

Unashamedly designed primarily for on-road performance, the X5 has developed into a market leader and the company’s X models now are the cause of about 30% of the company’s total volume.

To differentiate the brand new model, it gets new clothing. In fact, the X5 now resembles a beefed-up X1, sharing most of the family characteristics. It’s also grown a couple of inches to offer more legroom, giving it a lengthierIn the flesh, the size of the X5 demands your attention but it’s not as muscular or distinctive as the original version. It looks rather generic through the rear, despite its large L-shaped tail lights, however the X1-style front-end is instantly recognizable for what it is.

We had the ability to drive both 445hp V8 twin-turbo xDrive50i as well as the 255hp turbo-diesel xDrive35d. And while the former is a hoot, sailing past slower traffic like a sports car, it’s the diesel that got our attention.

With 413 lb-ft (as opposed to 480 from the 50i), the 35d is no slouch. With a punchy mid-range, it did everything we asked of the V8 but with slightly less whoops and hollas.

Yet the diesel will whisk you home while the petrol-engined model is stopping to refuel. Although EPA figures aren’t available, you can expect around 22mpg highway from the 50i and even closer to 40mpg through thebegins at $69125, where the xDrive35d costs from $57525. A lesser purchase price and running costs is a great place to start, even though inevitably, there’s less standard equipment around the diesel.

In styling terms, the 2014 X5 features a more upright grille that’s integrated into the headlights like the F30 3 Series. It also gets similar LED corona rings about the headlights to maintain the resemblance.

And much like the new F32 4 Series, the front spoiler gets air curtain intakes, smoothing airflow over the front wheels, exiting through the pronounced vents behind them. This helps reduce turbulence, increasing fuel economy. The vent also forms the pronounced scallop down the side of the X5, with upper and lower swage lines creating visual drama.

All models get lower black panels to minimizeBoth for fuel economy and improved driving dynamics, all models get the excellent ZF eight-speed auto that also includes Sport mode and paddle shifters. The X5 even offers stop/start plus ECO Pro mode within its Driving Dynamics options, helping you to save gas with reduced throttle movement. It will even separate the engine from the drivetrain when coasting at higher speeds to remove engine braking through the equation. Furthermore, the X5 has thermoplastic side panels, an aluminum hood and magnesium dashboard support to make it the lightest vehicle in its class and up to 180 lb lighter compared to outgoing model.

Yet its physical weight and size are common that really separate the X5 driving experience from the 3 or 5 Series. Hard cornering inevitably suffers as compared to the sedans, even though braking efficiency and bump absorption is similarly adept. Yet in comparison to many competitor SUVs, the X5 is actually a class act. It offers poise, power and performance together with its versatile load space, reasonable ground clearance and acceptable off-road ability.

Handling can be improved with options such as Dynamic Adaptive Dampers and active roll stabilization as well as an M Sport selection for drivers in a rush. There’s yet another Comfort active suspension which utilizes rear air bags to level the ride and cushion the blows, however.

To highlight its versatility, we were invited to sample an area of dirt roads that admittedly most cars might have tackled. There were muddy areas and places where ground approach and clearance angles demanded you drive an SUV, however. Even though it highlighted the X5’s flexibility, we doubt it could contend with Land Rover products in the harshest conditions, but will manage most situations a BMW will find itself in.would include X Luxury and Line Line, with M Sport and M Performance options to follow. Both Lines get three-layer decor panels on the dash, with metallic strips and piano black highlighting either wood or aluminum finishes. Add double-stitched dash panels plus multi-paneled leather seat coverings as well as the X5 interior is a very pleasant place. You even have the option of contour lighting around the dash and door panels, with selectable colors to improve the customization. Throw in either a Harman Kardon or Bang & Olufsen speakers, and your passengers won’t wish to leave.

The new iDrive makes an appearance with updated menus and finger-writing detection to simplify address inputs, along with the system’s existing voice commands, as well as a 10.25 upright screen.

Rear passengers will enjoy the optional reclining Comfort seats, as well as the extra legroom. If possible, accessed through the powered, split tailgate, there’s a third-row choice for children, and also the seats might be split to enable creative cargo carrying.

Naturally, it wouldn’t be a BMW without its acronyms, as well as the X5 provides the full complement: Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), ABS, Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Dynamic Brake Control (DBC), Automatic Differential Brake (ADB-X) and also Fading Compensation, Brake Drying function, trailer stability control and Hill Descent Control (HDC). And while there can be too many abbreviations, the raft of electronic aids help make this a very safe and stable platform for family transport in virtually any condition. Include Lane Departure collision, Warning and pedestrian warning, Active Cruise Control and Active Protection and also you couldn’t really ask for more.