2006 BMW X5
This 2006 review is representative of model years 2000 to 2006.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The BMW X5 remains the sportiest premium midsize sport-utility vehicle for 2006. It's still sportier than the improved rival Mercedes-Benz M-Class, looks racier than the Porsche Cayenne and outpowers the Infiniti FX.
Sales of the all-wheel-drive X5 in this country rose to 37,598 units in 2005 from 35,225 in the previous year—despite a slump in sales of larger, fuel-thirsty SUVs.
The X5 is powerful and weighs more than 4,600 pounds. It thus delivers only an estimated 15-16 mpg in the city and 21-22 on highways. But then, its competitors provide approximately the same fuel economy.
The X5 bowed for the 2000 model year as BMW's first SUV because the automaker could see that SUVs were becoming increasingly popular and they were tired of seeing sport utilities from rival nameplates parked alongside BMW autos in garages.
Sporty With SUV Utility
BMW has continually succeeded in making the X5 feel up to date, and the 2006 version gets a standard onboard computer that previously was part of a premium option package.
High X5 resale value partly offsets its high prices. For instance, a 2000 X5 4.4i version, which cost $49,900 when new, had an average retail value of $24,650 in January 2006. Most vehicles aren't worth much after six years.
Three Trim Levels
The 3.0i is motivated by a 225-horsepower inline 6-cylinder engine, while the 4.4i has a 315-horsepower V8 and the 4.8is is the power leader with a 355-horsepower V8.
Some may feel that the inline 6-cylinder engine makes the X5 underpowered for the money. But BMW is a master at making such a 6 cylinder, and this "six" provides decent acceleraton for routine driving.
Safety items include anti-lock brakes with a brake assist feature for surer panic stops, an anti-skid system, front-seat side airbags and head-protecting tubular side airbags.
There's also a hill-descent feature for off-road driving, although the standard all-wheel-drive system has no low-range gearing for serious off-road trips. However, it's doubtful that many X5 owners would risk scratched paint or body dents during rugged off-road driving with this premium SUV.
The 4.4i is so fast that it makes the 355-horsepower version almost seem superfluous. This midrange trim levels adds such items as leather upholstery and a front/rear obstacle detection system.
The 4.8is adds heated front/rear seats, power sunroof and a sport suspension with an adjustable ride height and the largest (20-inch) wheels.
Both the 3.0i and 4.4i are offered with a Sport Package that has sport seats, sport suspension and unique alloy wheels.
Tend to occasionally get lost when driving? Optional for all trim levels is an $1,800 navigation system, which works OK but takes some time to figure out.
Roomy and Rugged
The quiet, high-quality interior has gauges that can be quickly read, but audio system and climate controls should be larger for easier driver use. Conveniently located front console cupholders have a sliding cover, and all doors have storage pockets, although the console bin offers little storage space.
BMW's steering is among the best, but X5 steering effort is a bit high at lower speeds. Handling is quite good for a tall SUV. It has outstanding grip, thanks partly to a well-designed suspension and the capable all-wheel-drive system.
Touchy Brake Pedal
The ride is firm, but compliant, with the 3.0i having the most comfortable ride with its softer suspension and smaller 17-inch tires, which have more sidewall area to help absorb road shocks.
The tailgate's separate-opening glass area is handy, but the wide cargo opening is rather high and shallow. However, rear seatbacks flip forward and sit flat to enlarge the cargo area.
The X5 should make its owners happy, even if they can't afford to park a premium sports sedan alongside it in their garages.