A Vancouver resident inspecting the row of new BMW X5s parked outside the posh Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel confessed he wasn't sure the new look of the car was an improvement on his own second-gen X5. Since we were as new as he was to the look of this third-generation X5 sport-activity vehicle (BMW's description), we listened to his comments with interest.
We could appreciate how an owner of the previous model might find the aggressive new grille and wide sweep of headlight surface a little strange. Also, the accented lower air intakes add a sharpness to the car's face that's absent from the old one. Then there's that raked aspect to the side windows that lends a wedge shape to the X5's profile. And although the new car sits on a wheelbase the same as its predecessor's, it looks longer than the actual 2.2-inch increase in overall length suggests.
Now, with the benefit of hindsight, we can advise that concerned Canadian BMW owner that the new car soon makes the old one -- with its boxy profile and unfashionably chubby contours -- seem curiously dated. Of course, it isn't just an appearance makeover for the 2014 X5; there are technical upgrades and refinements too, aimed primarily at reducing fuel consumption and emissions. According to BMW, the city/highway fuel consumption of the flagship xDrive50i has been improved from 14/20 to 14/22 mpg.
This slight improvement comes by way of weight reduction, mechanical efficiencies -- like auto stop/start and a new free-wheeling mechanism in BMW's eco-pro program that disengages drive while coasting at low speeds -- and aerodynamic upgrades. There are functional slots in the bodywork behind the front wheels that redirect air from the wheel wells to reduce turbulence, as well as a faired-in rear window and other tweaks to the vehicle's envelope to cut drag. Accordingly, the new X5 is remarkably quiet, with well-suppressed wind and tire noise.
BMW chose Vancouver as the location for the international press debut for its third-generation X5 to continue the tradition of having X5s launched in cities where Olympic Games have been staged. Appropriately, the site chosen for the off-road program went right past the awe-inducing Olympic ski-jump ramp, which looks scary even without its winter coat.
Naturally, the new X5s on hand (European xDrive50i and xDrive30d models) slogged through the off-road course relatively easily, aided by the ABS-based traction control and the car's optional traction- specific program. The vehicle's approach and departure angles, along with its breakover points, are evidently well optimized and the car's underpinnings tidily integrated. So, with only the occasional oblique approach to deep gullies as a sensible precaution, we managed not to scrape anything.
Still, we did manage to get our car stuck in one deep and muddy gully by going in too slowly. Nonetheless, the X5 dug its way out with just a little sawing at the wheel. Obviously, it's not very likely we'll see anyone who coughed up nearly 70 grand for this luxury sport ute tackling goat tracks like these without the incentive of a natural catastrophe.
Normal roads? That's a different proposition. Even those of us who scoff at the idea of an Ultimate Driving Machine standing tall and weighing about 5,000 pounds have to concede that the X5 steers keenly and handles transitions with a poise made possible by its rear air spring, adaptive shocks and skillful chassis tuning. There's very little pitch, roll, bounce or wallow in this crossover, and that's a remarkable achievement.
The xDrive50i we sampled came complete with a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 good for 450 hp and sub-five-second sprints to 60 mph, and it displayed a stable ride and sense of seclusion worthy of its status. It was notably smooth and solid on the roads that wind into the mountains around Vancouver, and although the steering demonstrated a slight dead zone on center, it pointed the car with pleasing accuracy.
With the edgy new X5 body style comes a new interior with a truly huge 10.25-inch display sticking from the dashboard like an embedded iPad. Teamed with the usual iDrive controller, the display accesses an extraordinary array of features. Navigation, entertainment, vehicle settings, surround view -- you name it. Among the safety features on board are collision warning, pedestrian alerts, parking assistance, active cruise control with braking function, lane departure and much more. All new for this X5 is a head-up display, night vision to detect pedestrians and animals, and a traffic-jam assistant that manages speed and steering in stop-and-go conditions.
BMW's X5 lineup for the States will include the rear-wheel-drive sDrive35i, the all-wheel-drive xDrive35i, the AWD xDrive35d diesel and the AWD gasoline-V8 xDrive50i. They're all manufactured in Spartanburg, S.C., and many are exported -- some to Canada -- so let's hope everyone comes to share our fondness for the new look.
BMW X5 XDRIVE50I
ON SALE: Now
BASE PRICE: $69,125
DRIVETRAIN: 4.4-liter, 445-hp, 479-lb-ft twin-turbocharged V8; AWD, eight-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHTt: 5,150 lb (est)
0-60 MPH: 4.9 sec (mfr)
FUEL ECONOMY (EPA CITY/HWY/COMBINED): 14/22/17 mpg
BMW X5 XDRIVE50I
Audi Q7 3.0T S-Line Prestige
BASE PRICE: $61,795
Land Rover LR4
BASE PRICE: $59,220
Mercedes-Benz ML550 4Matic
BASE PRICE: $60,375
Article SOURCE: this factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that can be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.