SEE ALSO: BMW Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 38,900 Price As Tested $ 43,270 Engine Type DOHC 24-valve 3.0 Liter I6 w/SMFI* Engine Size 182 cid/2979 cc Horsepower 225 @ 5900 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 214 @ 3500 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 111.0"/73.7"/183.7" Transmission Five-speed manual Curb Weight 4694 pounds Fuel Capacity 24.6 gallons Tires (F/R) 235/65R17 all-season Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/all-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/five-door Domestic Content 35 percent Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) 0.35 PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 15/20/18 0-60 MPH 9.0 seconds Maximum cargo capacity 1400 pounds Maximum towing capacity 5000 pounds * Sequential multi-port fuel injection
BRENDAN - The SUV has to be the most common new passenger vehicle on the road today, so I guess BMW wanted to be different and billed its X5 a Sports Activity Vehicle, or "SAV," as the company calls it. The concept of building an SUV on a passenger car platform isn't new anymore, so its uni-body frame has a lot in common with the 5 or 7-Series sports sedan. The new X5 we tested this week drove like a luxury sedan, and had all the comfort and interior attributes of a large series BMW four-door. The X5 is also available with a more powerful 280- horse 4.4 liter V8, but ours had a 3.0-liter straight six cylinder engine that provided 225 ponies and lots of torque. It's assembled in South Carolina and first came out last year at which time it made a huge impact on the super-competitive luxury SUV market. It has permanent four-wheel drive, of course, and like all BMWs, it's light-footed and dynamic. It's comfortable grinding up dirt roads, picking up the kids at school or cruising up to a classy "club" where it impresses the crowd.
MIKELE - I have to say that I absolutely loved this vehicle. BMW has always meant luxury and performance, and that's essential when you're spending this kind of money on a family car. The press kit they sent us says it has all the goodies that modern automotive technology has to offer, and that's true. One of these is Dynamic Stability Control, which makes sure the X5 gets the best possible traction and stays in a straight line. Another is Hill Descent Control, a speed retarding system that maintains a speed of between 3 and 6 miles per hour by automatically applying the brakes when you're going down steep descents. The X5 also has All-Season Traction Control, Dynamic Brake Control, and few other standard features that all have their own BMW "buzz" phrases. It has more bells and whistles than I can count and it would take a long time for me to figure them all out.
BRENDAN - I know what you mean. The systems BMW has come up with on the X5 are amazing. It would take us more than the week we have it just to begin testing all of its functions. The only thing missing was the heated seats option. And the handling was exceptional, thanks to gas-filled shocks, thick anti-roll bars, double-pivot lower control arms up front and four-link suspension in the rear. The five-speed manual transmission was a blast, although an automatic would be better suited for the typical family auto buyer. The interior is plush, but not overly dramatic. The dash is elegant, with wood grain inserts that are also on the center console, and the leather eight-way power seats are really comfortable. The ten-speaker upscale sound system fills the cabin with cool tunes, and the four cup holders are easy to reach and use. There's a holder for sunglasses overhead, along with a transmitter for garage doors, house lights, and gates, if you live in a gated community. Talk about upscale marketing!
MIKELE - We don't live in a mansion, but the X5 did look great sitting in front of our modest little house. The neighbors were comparing it to their big SUVs, and a few of them were beginning to commenting that a sedan-based "SAV" might be a better choice for town use. The design of the X5 is ultra-modern, with just the right curves here and there. The 17-inch alloy wheels were what Brendan and his brothers call "trick," and the heated outside mirrors eliminate one of those many cold-weather annoyances. I'm very impressed by a safe vehicle and the X5 is also loaded with safety stuff. Front, side and head air bags for the front seats, and side airbags for the rear seats give lots of protection to its occupants. The rigid body shell is designed with crumple zones front and rear but hopefully, they'll never be used. It has four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes that work with all that other technical stuff that I couldn't figure out.
BRENDAN - It's obvious that you'll always be a designer, Mikele. You just don't have a head for technical stuff.
MIKELE - That's true, but I hope you'll love me anyway.