• Surprising cornering
  • Potent performance
  • Usefully large cargo hold
  • Third-row seat's marginal usefulness
  • New, higher price
  • Daunting options list

By Automobile Magazine

What's New for X5 in 2014

Aside from the overall redesign, 2014 sees BMW's system of "lines" -- trim packages, really -- comes to the X5 for 2014, with the Luxury Line, xLine, and M Sport. Automated parking assist is a new option, and adaptive xenon headlamps are now standard across the board...more

Vehicle Summary

The BMW X5 was among the first SUVs to put an emphasis on sport. Initially powered by BMW's straight six, the X5 is now offered with a choice of turbo six-cylinder, turbo V-8, or turbo-diesel (also six-cylinder) power. The X5 is a BMW designed for the American market (but sold worldwide) and is built at BMW's factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The second-generation X5 added the option of a small third-row seat, and that continues with the arrival this year of the third-generation X5. Other than that change, the X5 has stayed remarkably true to its mission of being a mid-large SUV with uncommon sporting character.

Overview

The original sports SUV, the BMW X5 hews to the course as it enters its third generation with the 2014 model. The three main variants are familiar. The 35i returns, again powered by a 3.0-liter turbo six making 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. This year the 35i is available with sDrive, making it the first-ever rear-wheel-drive X5. Opting for rear-wheel drive saves the buyer some $2300, but it still costs some $5000 more than before (when xDrive AWD was standard). Next up is the 50i with its 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8. For 2014, that engine adds Valvetronic, upping power by 45 hp (for a grand total of 445 hp) and torque by 30 lb-ft (for a new peak figure of 480 lb-ft). The third model is the 35d, which gets a new, more efficient diesel six that makes 255 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque; it's down on power slightly compared to the previous 35d but promises significantly better fuel economy. All X5 engines are paired with BMW's eight-speed automatic. Missing from the lineup (for the time being) is the ultra-high-performance X5 M, although we expect it to return.

Buyers can now select exactly how much sportiness they want their X5 to have via a sea of options. Dynamic Performance Control, Dynamic Handling Package, Dynamic Damper Control, M Sport, Adaptive M Suspension, and Active Steering variously control damper firmness, steering quickness and effort, and even torque flow from one wheel to another. No matter the options ordered, the driver also has a hand in matters by choosing among Eco Pro, comfort, sport, and sport-plus modes. The new X5 has, commendably, dropped some weight (170 pounds for the 35i, 230 pounds for the 50i), which also should aid handling.

The third-row seat continues to be optional on all X5s and is now somewhat more easily accessed, although the last row is still a place to stash only the small and limber. Adults will be happier in the now more a comfortable second row. A richly appointed interior can be had by specifying either of the two new interior design packages (ivory white or mocha), but note that leather still costs extra on the 35i and the 35d.

Key Competitors

  • Infiniti QX70
  • Mercedes-Benz M-class
  • Porsche Cayenne
  • Range Rover Sport

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