by: Mike Ginsca
Safety and good fuel economy usually don’t end up in the same sentence when describing an SUV. Yes they are safe due to all the metal that surrounds the occupants but they usually need big thirsty engines to pull the weight around. BMW thinks that they have come up with a solution to the big gas guzzling V8 SUV.
Performance – The engine powering this X5 is an Inline 6 twin-turbocharged diesel. Yes you read correctly, a diesel engine can now be found in a family SUV. In terms of power it produces 265 hp and a colossal 425 lb-ft of torque. Unlike the Mercedes-Benz ML350 diesel, the engine in this X5 is more powerful and it feels that way. It takes less effort for the engine to build up its power and pull along the big body. To put it into perspective of just how much power this engine produces, the X5 35d is only half a second slower to 100km/h than the 4.8L V8 gasoline powered X5. But unlike the gasoline engine, this diesel can achieve a fuel rating of 8.3L/100km combined as oppose to 12.0L/100km combined.
When the roads get twisty, the X5 easily follows the contours of the ground. BMW SUVs have always been the more sporty vehicles out of the big 3 German manufacturers. Adaptive Drive and Adaptive Steering control the roll and steering feel of the X5 making sure that the vehicle doesn’t excessively lean as it enters and exits corners. It’s not a sports car or a sports sedan by any definition but compared with the Mercedes-Benz ML class and Audi Q7, it feels more taut and fun to drive.
Comfort – This top of the line X5 is equipped with nearly every gadget that BMW makes. Cameras in the front bumper let the driver “peek” around blind corners, park assist… is self explanatory, and simpler to use iDrive system can guide the driver to any corner of the globe and make the X5 into his or her personal office on wheels.
The ride is not quite on par with the Mercedes-Benz ML class, due to the sporty nature of BMWs, but the front seats do their best to keep the occupants comfortable with heating, cooling, and massage features. In the back, the kids (or adults) can play their favorite movies or TV shows with the 8” touch screen.
Odds and Ends – The X5 is one of only a few SUVs that has a split folding tailgate making loading and unloading easier. The 3rd row of seats fold flat and the second row can be configured in a number of different ways.
One thing that drove me a little mad about the X5 was how intrusive the engine noise was in the cabin. Having driven a BMW 550i and a 750i, I was expecting the X5 to be just as quiet but I’m sure with a little more time behind the wheel my mind would have drowned out the noise of the engine.
These days, people’s perception of diesel engines is vastly outdated. They think that they are rough and smelly relics from the industrial ages when in reality diesel engines are very clean and efficient power plants that deserve a second chance in the spotlight.
Thank you to Autoform performance Inc. for providing the vehicle.
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.