The BMW X5 arrived for the 2000 model year; a time when rival European brands were bringing high dollar sport utes to an American market that couldn’t buy up them fast enough. While the X5 has proven very popular with more than 1.3-million sold, competition grows more intense. Plus many ute buyers are downsizing to save on fuel costs. So let’s see if an all-new X5 factors in all the changes.
The mid-size 2014 BMW X5 is actually the 3rd generation of BMW’s original Sports Activity Vehicle. And while BMW has expanded into smaller segments with both the X3 and X1, it’s still the X5 that makes up the bulk of their utility sales in the U.S.
Perhaps the biggest news is that a rear-wheel-drive only sDrive X5 is now available for those that have no need for all-wheel-drive. The new-gen looks are in a word, evolutionary. But tweaks such as new headlights with flattened LED trim rings, and the increasing amount of aero elements will let those “in the know”, know you’ve upgraded.
While wheelbase carries over at 115.5 inches, overall length grows by 2-inches to 193.2. It loses a little in both overall height and ride height, giving this X5 a more hunkered down look. But like the guy at the gym with the cut-off sleeves, the very high mounted fog lamps and traditional twin kidney grilles try a little too hard to look cool.
Thick body lines are still present along the sides, only now they emanate from a new front fender vent. All-in-all, not a bad looking redesign, though some of our staff did feel it appears more mini-van-ish than before. We’re all fans of the dual tailgate setup, as it makes loading heavy and bulky items easier.
While off-road credentials are probably not a high priority, the full-time intelligent all-wheel-drive system uses lots of electronic wizardry to be very capable. And should do just fine if the pending zombie apocalypse does arrive, or just on the snowy roads that we encountered here in the Mid-Atlantic this past winter.
Regardless of driving mission, you’ll find the X5 rides more like a BMW sedan than any ute. The incredibly smooth shifts of the standard 8-speed automatic transmission, and one of the most unobtrusive start/stop systems we’ve sampled, add positively to the experience.
And as you would expect, it’s a great handling experience as well. Though as with most BMW’s, we mourn the lack of steering feel. But it’s hard to argue with the results, as steering is still impressively quick.
Driven aggressively, the X5 begins to feel more like an SUV, but still one that handles better than most. And this 6-banger xDrive35i certainly hooks up and launches like few SUVs. It doesn’t feel overly powerful, just a civilized whoosh of acceleration taking you to 60 in 6.2-seconds. Power continues to pour on smoothly as you work your way down the track, with firm, quick shifts coming right at red line until you clear the ¼-mile in 14.8-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour.
Powertrain options are as before, gasoline and diesel fueled inline-6s and a 4.4–liter V8 xDrive50i. The V8 is updated while the diesel in the xDrive35d is all new. But, in our test xDrive35i, the 3.0-liter gas I6 soldiers on, pumping out 300–horsepower and 300 lb-ft. of torque with the help of BMW’s TwinPower turbo.
Dropping the hood and opening the doors, the highlight of the interior is easily the huge 10-inch hi-res. screen indiscreetly plopped down on the dash. It’s controlled by iDrive of course, and we think BMW has finally struck a good balance with logically placed traditional controls; making tapping into iDrive central only necessary for more detailed requests. A new touchpad write-on feature helps as well.
Seats, front and rear are firm, supportive, but comfortable. Back seat room is adequate but far from generous. Still, the soft close doors are a nice touch.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 18-City, 27-Highway, and 21-Combined. We averaged 20.2 miles-per-gallon of Premium. That Energy Impact Score is so-so at 15.7-barrels of annual oil use with 6.9 tons of CO2 emissions.
Yea, we know fuel economy could be better, but we just love the power and effortless feel of the gas I6. But, go the xDrive35d diesel and you gain 20% on MPGs and lose little else. And, the diesel is only $1,500 more than our tester, and volume leader xDrive35i which starts at $56,025.
The 2014 BMW X5 is indeed a sweet ride. When it comes to all out luxury, we still prefer a Range Rover, but the X5 actually appeals to a different buyer. One that needs an SUV, but really wants a BMW sport sedan. And, that will keep the X5 a major market factor for years to come.
Torque: 300 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 6.2 seconds
1/4 mile: 14.8 seconds @ 95 mph
EPA: 18 mpg city/ 27 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 15.7-barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 6.9 tons/yr