ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: Hop into the driver's seat of the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i and you'll understand why people bought SUVs, why they still buy crossovers, and why BMW has no trouble moving these things. The car is comfortable and solid, with that commanding view of the road so sought after by people who think vehicle size and weight matter more than a good set of side curtain airbags. In short, it's confidence-inspiring.
Such confidence doesn't come cheap. This X5 gets the expected, expensive slate of options here, which accounts for the $70K-plus price tag. Some, like rearview cameras, are virtually indispensible. Others…well; kids have lived for thousands of years without rear seat heaters. I was happy to see that this is a non-M Sport-trimmed car because the standard interiors in upmarket BMWs are nice on their own.
Plus, an M Sport package would not have done much to make this crossover feel truly sporty anyway. Oh, it was quick enough, and smooth enough, thanks to an inline six that never wanted for power. But it is still 4,790 pounds (despite having lost a few hundred pounds for the new model year), and while the vehicle's adjustable suspension keeps that bulk impressively well-planted when changing lanes or rounding a corner, it's not exactly nimble.
The X5 is meant for comfortable family travel, and there's nothing wrong with that. It plowed through snow and blasted across potholes -- including one that was more of a lane-wide pot-trench -- with surprising poise. It's big, and I'd never call it athletic, but it's hardly lumbering.
The new styling doesn't really do anything for me. I know the recent redesign's goal was to make the crossover look more aggressive and bring it around to the brand's design language, but the result is rather unremarkable. I had to pull up photos of the X5 to remind myself what its lines looked like; turns out they're basically the same lines you'll see on the X3, which are basically the same lines on the X1.
I haven't been around a Mercedes-Benz ML-class lately (think that's the closest matchup here), and while a well-optioned ML550 is going to cost about as much as this X5, I prefer what Benz has been doing with styling inside and out. The X5 may be sportier, in theory, but how many people are going to push it hard enough to actually be able to tell for sure?
EXECUTIVE EDITOR RORY CARROLL: I've said before that the best recent cars from Audi, BMW and Mercedes are their big cars. I was half joking, but this X5 is one of the better BMWs I've driven lately. That may sound like an indictment of BMW, but I'm trying to be nice for once.
It's got enough power for the freeway though no one will mistake it for an M-model. Our tester was equipped with dedicated snow tires and it proved to be more than up to the task of plowing through a variety of ice/snow type conditions on a trip that saw several other drivers end up nose or ass-first in a ditch. The X5 has also plenty of room for four adults and luggage and the interior is every bit as nice as the one you'll find in our long-term Mercedes-Benz GL350 Bluetec.
The styling is somewhat bland -- where previous X5's have stood out among luxury crossovers, this one isn't exactly memorable, save for the little gills behind the front wheels. I'd imagine that being boring won't hurt it as far as sales though. It's expensive enough to be a good lifestyle-totem while being comfortable, practical, powerful and well-made enough that buyers won't have to make too many non-financial compromises to live with it everyday.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: This X5 has cleaner styling than the last gen, but I can't tell if that's a good thing or a bad thing. It looks more boring, for sure, though I do like the quarter panel vent with no bezel or decoration. It disappears from the front three-quarters view. The front clip looks better, when put side-by-side with the old one, and a little lower, too. In back, things are about the same. The taillights are new, and the lower portion of the rear bumper has been redesigned.
Like the other editors, the X5 rumbled over the snow, ice and potholes with me in it. It transfers a decent amount of that bounce to the cabin, but I did have it in sport mode the entire time, which tightens up the suspension. I always like the thick BMW steering wheel.
Power is just barely adequate with the 300-hp turbocharged I6. Anything less than that and I think people would complain. The eight-speed automatic is great, and quick almost like a dual-clutch.
Interior space is good, and the seats can be folded down for the big stuff. Unlike the X6, this will fit tall stuff, too. It would be a good secondary vehicle for a big move. Not the main vehicle though, you need something bigger for that.
I find it tough to justify this car, especially since you can get two Jeep Grand Cherokees for the price. I know the Jeep badge doesn't carry the same cache as the Roundel, but it can do everything this vehicle can, for considerably less.
SENIOR MOTORSPORTS EDITOR MAC MORRISON: I'll add a few more stitches to the common thread sewn throughout these comments: I'm not in love with the new X5's appearance, as it's less aggressive if not a bit bland to my eyes. But that matters far, far less once I'm behind its wheel. BMW's cockpits remain among the industry's best, and the X5 is no exception.
If anything, the interior sticks a toe onto the drab side of the line if you prefer a bit fancier-trimmed cabin. No carbon fiber added here, no boy-racer inspired coloring or fonts. And I'm more than happy with that in the particular BMW. This drives and feels like a true adult's crossover, the hefty wheel and steering adding to the commanding driving position and rock-solid chassis to inspire confidence in all conditions.
Plenty of interior room and utility make this more than a rolling gold-chain affirmation of its owner's success. And if Jake would have switched the suspension out of sport mode, he would have discovered a well-damped ride that handles all but the worst sinkhole a brutal Michigan winter throws at it.
The inline-six is at its limit dealing with so much weight; I could live with it here thanks to its OK mileage returns, but just barely. And if you're the family-trip, towing type, you're going to want to step up the V8.
But again, the new X5 is top-notch in the luxury crossover world, along with offering from Mercedes, Audi and Porsche, and more than deserves its place on your list of test drives if you're shopping this segment.
2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i
Base Price: $56,025
As-Tested Price: $70,975
Drivetrain: 3.0-liter turbocharged I6; AWD, eight-speed automatic
Output: 300 hp @ 5,800-6,000 rpm, 295 lb-ft @ 1,300-5,000 rpm
Curb Weight: 4,790 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 18/27/21 mpg
AW Observed Fuel Economy: 16.5 mpg
Options: Premium package including comfort access keyless entry, soft-close automatic doors, satellite radio ($2,700); driver assistance plus packaging including active blind spot detection, ACC stop and go with active drive assist, surround view ($1,900); lighting package including full LED lights, automatic high beams ($1,900); luxury line including sport leather steering wheel, 19-inch light alloy wheels, roof rails in satin aluminum ($1,700); active steering ($1,550); driver assistance package including rear-view camera, head-up display ($1,400); mineral white metallic paint ($550); cold weather package including heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, retractable headlight washers ($550); comfort rear seats ($500); four-zone climate control ($500); rear manual side window shades ($250); concierge services ($250)
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.