The inside of the X5 is a study in small changes that pay big dividends…
This all-new BMW X5 is the latest version of the mid-sized luxury SUV that helped the manufacturer expand into markets beyond those where luxury, performance sedans reside.
Some younger readers might not remember a time when BMW, and other German makers, never had SUVs. But it wasn’t too long ago that the original X5 came out and transformed the Bavarian automaker into more of a full-line manufacturer. Ever since they started making SUVs, their sales have not retreated. As is stands right now, the X5 combines two classes of SUV, the mid-size 5-seat market and the 7-seat marketplace. Truth be told, this should really be looked at as a 5-seater, there will be a new, bigger 7 passenger BMW coming in the next year or so.
When you look at this new model, it is instantly recognizable with just small changes such as more accent lines. I had a chance to park it next to the smaller X3 and, other than the front grille and headlights, they share a striking resemblance to each other, this is just a bigger version of that wildly popular SUV. All X5 models come standard with 19-inch wheels but BMW packages their products to be offered with bigger wheels depending on whether they want the sport package or not. Around the back, the same clamshell lift gate found on the last two versions remains intact. The top flips up and the bottom drops down. It makes it a reach to get inside the cargo area but many owners like this feature for sliding items in and out and being able to sit on the tailgate.
The inside of the X5 is a study in small changes that pay big dividends. The centre screen is huge, the iDrive controller is bigger and navigating around this system is much easier than it has been in past versions. The materials used inside the cabin are first rate. The wide and relatively flat dash makes the cabin feel huge and the big comfortable seats make for an effortless place to spend time.
As mentioned, the X5 can be equipped with a third row of seats but they are not that great for space, the GL-Class from Mercedes is a much better option. When equipped with a just 5-seats the cargo space is vast, this is a big rig.
There are three different version of the X5, two that are very popular and the V8 version that is almost overkill. My test unit was the Xdrive 50 and it’s powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.4L V8 engine. This produces a whopping 445hp and 479 lb.-ft. of torque. And this thing flies, it is so fast and stable, it makes this big rig dance in every situation. In addition, there are various driving modes that setup the engine’s response, the steering feel and the suspension stiffness. Even in the most relaxed setting this V8 engine is always up a quick passing manouevre. Yes this is a blast to drive but 445hp is a lot, maybe too much. For gasoline buyers the 3.0L 6-cylinder turbo model is more practical. With 300hp and 300 lb-ft. of torque, the XDrive 35 can make a run to 100km/h in just 6.6 seconds. Not bad for a 6-cylinder. The XDrive 35d turbo diesel should prove to be the most popular. The 3.0L diesel has 413 lb.-ft. or torque and sips fuel. The diesel X5 can make a run to 100km/h in 7.6 seconds but achieves just 8.7L/100km in mixed city and highway driving. All models come with an 8-speed automatic to help get the most out of each litre of fuel.
All X5 models can be equipped with several different packages like sport packages, luxury packages and more. So starting at $63,000 and up, the base price can be a bit misleading. This is an expensive product but a superbly well designed and engineered one. To be honest, other than the price, there is a lot to like here, this is a great BMW. It is so well put together, it drives superbly and it comes with three equally good engines. If you are in the market for a big luxury SUV, the new X5 does a lot right.
Power: 3.0L turbo 6-cyliner, 6-cylinder turbo diesel and 4.4L turbo V8
Fill-up: 8.7L/6.3L/100km (city/highway–diesel)
Sticker price: $63,000