2009 BMW X5

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Review: 2007 BMW X5

This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2010.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

The X5 SUV remains quite sporty, although larger and heavier.
Pros:
  • Nicely revamped
  • Roomier
  • Newly optional third-row seat
Cons:
  • High step-in
  • Complicated iDrive control system
  • Third seat mostly for kids

Introduced for 2000, the BMW X5 sport-utility vehicle long has been overdue for a revamp, which it gets for 2007. The new version seems worth the wait.

Such a wait is an eternity for a new car or SUV in today's highly competitive market, so BMW had to come up with a significantly new X5. The old one was a tremendous seller and made loads of money for the automaker.

The American-built X5 looks much like the 2000-2006 version, which was continually improved. But it's more powerful, with a revised chassis and a more responsive 6-speed automatic transmission, which is now standard for both 6-cylinder and V8 trim levels.

More Family Oriented
The X5 also is offered for the first time with a third-row seat. That optional seat is best suited to kids, but mainly is offered to make the X5 more attractive to families.

BMW also sells the sporty compact X3 SUV, so it could make the new X5 larger despite a general move to smaller vehicles.

While still considered a midsize SUV, the new X5 is 7.4 inches longer, 2.4 inches wider and 2 inches taller than its predecessor. The wheelbase (distance between axles) has been stretched 4.5 inches to 115.5 inches for greater stability, an improved ride and a roomier interior.

More Powerful
Alas, though, the new 3.0si is 286 pounds heavier than the 2006 model, and the 4.8i weights 408 pounds more. But horsepower of the new 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder has been increased to 260 from 225. And the horsepower of the 4.8-liter V8 has climbed from 315 to 350, partly because that engine's size is up from 4.4 liters. (The first X5 had a 225-horspower 6-cylinder and a 282-horsepower V8.)

BMW expects a 50/50 split between 6-cylinder and V8 sales.

Both engines work with a responsive 6-speed automatic transmission. It has an easily used manual-shift feature and been improved for quicker response and better adaptation to driving style and conditions.

Mediocre Fuel Economy
Fuel economy is far from sparkling, at an estimated 17 mpg in the city and 23 on the highway with the 6-cylinder and 15 and 21 with the V8. The 6-cylinder picks up about 2 mpg and the V8 loses about 1 mpg, compared with the 2006 X5.

BMW calls the new X5 a "sport-activity vehicle" instead of an SUV, although it's still very much an SUV. It continues to be a very sporty one, with BMW performance, luxury, quality and safety. It provides a commanding driving position, good slippery road capability and a muscular design.

More Car-like Feel
A lower center of gravity, wider front and rear tracks, stiffer construction and a new suspension allow the X5 to feel more car-like than the first-generation model. Replacing the front suspension struts with a double-wishbone design is a big improvement—and is the first non-strut-type BMW front suspension since 1961.

The 2000 X5 was built to mainly compete with the Mercedes-Benz M-Class and Lexus RX 300. BMW saw that many of its auto buyers were purchasing high-profit SUVs from rivals. Porsche found itself in the same boat and thus brought out its successful Cayenne SUV.

Sporty From the Start
The first X5 had a smaller interior and less cargo space than the M-Class and RX. But it was basically meant to be a sporty on-road vehicle. That's why it had no low-range gearing for off-road use of its permanently engaged all-wheel-drive system.

Nothing has changed in that regard, with low-range gearing still unavailable for the new X5's all-wheel-drive system. However, nearly everything else has been changed for this vehicle, which competes with upscale midsize SUVs, including the Acura MDX, RX, M-Class and Cayenne.

The X5 3.0si 6-cylinder version lists at $45,900, and the 4.8i V8 trim level costs $54,500. While prices are stiff, the X5 has a good amount of equipment, including dual-zone automatic climate control, power front seats, upscale sound system and the usual power accessories.

However, the start/stop engine button is gimmicky because you must insert a key before pushing the button to fire up the engine. Why not just twist the key to start it—or turn it off?

Safety Equipment
Safety features include traction/anti-skid control with rollover sensors, front-seat side and side-curtain airbags and the first run-flat tires offered for a BMW SUV.

There are plenty of desirable options, such as heated front and rear seats, front ventilated seats, navigation system, rear DVD entertainment system, large sunroof and rearview camera for safer backing up.

The 0-60 mph time with the 6-cylinder engine is 7.8 seconds and is 6.4 seconds with the V8. That makes the new X5 slightly faster than its predecessors. It's plenty quick by SUV standards.

Kick to Drive
The X5 is a kick to drive, with such items as precise new variable-ratio steering and remarkably sharp handling for such a big fella. The firm ride is supple and better than the stiffer ride of the first-generation X5. Improved brakes provide quick, sure stops and are controlled by a firm brake pedal.

The upscale new interior is roomy. Rear-seat room is especially good—for the first time with an X5. Doors open wide, but shorter folks should consider the optional running boards because the X5 has a high floor that calls for extra effort to get in. Front seats are supportive, and gauges can be easily read. The gear selector has an unusual design, but is easily worked after a few tries.

Complicated iDrive System
But it still takes time to master BMW's complicated iDrive system, which uses a single console knob to control climate, entertainment, communication and navigation functions. At least there are redundant manual audio system controls. An electromechanical parking brake on the console replaces a pull-up lever.

The cargo floor is rather high, but second-row seats fold flat to enlarge the roomier cargo area.

The new X5 should be competitive for quite some time, but the vehicle market keeps moving fast so BMW fans hope they won't have to wait too many years for an even newer version.

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BB03 - 4/16/2014 12:20:39 AM