I always look forward to spending time behind the wheel of BMW products, as the German automaker seems to strive to produce vehicles that are always fun to drive.
This holds true across all of BMW’s ever-expanding lineup, but always comes as somewhat of a revelation whenever I drive one of the company’s renowned Sport Activity Vehicles.
What is a Sport Activity Vehicle (SAV), you ask? While other manufacturers build sport utility vehicles to meet the needs of that segment of their clientele who need a larger, go-anywhere workhorse of a vehicle, the product planners at BMW have taken a different direction.
The reality is that many SUV designs deliver a driving experience that is rather bland and far too truck-like, making them unsuitable for those consumers who relish their time behind the wheel. BMW’s SAV designs provide buyers with the utility of a SUV, but with the precise handling and refined driving dynamics usually reserved for the realm of the modern sports sedan.
SUV Review: 2014 BMW X4The X5 M Sportline features 20-inch M Double Spoke alloy wheels fitted with Dunlop all-season radials.
The BMW X5 is the largest of the company’s utility vehicles, and it is available fitted with either a twin-turbocharged, 3.0-litre, in-line six-cylinder engine that produces 300 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque, or a 5.0-litre V8 that generates a prodigious 445-horsepower and 479 lb.-ft. of torque. There is also a diesel-powered offering, the 35d, which delivers 255-horsepower and 413 lb.-ft. of torque from its 3.0-litre straight six-cylinder engine.
Our test unit was a BMW X5 xDrive 35i fitted with the enthusiast-minded M Sport Line trim package. It featured the well-sorted, gasoline-powered straight six-cylinder engine under its shapely hood, which utilizes a host of intelligent engineering to improve performance.
This engine has been carefully engineered with a broad torque band to help it deliver smooth power across while maximizing fuel efficiency. The Twin Scroll turbocharger spools up quickly to insure that sufficient power is always on tap when the driver steps on the accelerator pedal, while a full suite of EfficientDynamics technologies — Brake Energy Regeneration, Auto Start-Stop, ECO PRO Mode, Valvetronic, Double Vanos (variable camshaft control) and High Precision Injection — are on board to help consumers get the most from each and every tank of gas, while still delivering a driving experience worthy of a BMW.The 2014 BMW X5 xDrive50i can be optioned to come with a boatload of technology. Truthfully, all this tech can be a little overwhelming at first.
BMW has always excelled in the transmission department, and the eight-speed automatic transmission fitted to the new X5 is phenomenal. This ultra-smooth gearbox is efficient, quiet, and quick to react when you employ the gearshift paddles fitted to the steering wheel. Having the ability to operate the X5 in seventh or eighth gear at low engine speeds enhances fuel economy, but it also results in a substantial reduction of operating noise when cruising at highway speeds. As the X5 is a luxury offering, the latter fact helps BMW deliver one of the most serene passenger environments I have ever experienced in a sport utility vehicle.
The X5 uses the company’s xDrive advanced all-wheel-drive system to get the power to the ground and BMW claims that the X5 35i will accelerate from zero to 100 kilometres-per-hour in a mere 6.6 seconds. While that may sound like an impressive number for a vehicle of this type and size, I found it to be even quicker.
By playing with the vehicle’s dynamic settings using the console mounted switch I selected Sport mode which prepared the Adaptive M suspension for enthusiast play rather than comfortable cruising. The big, meaty Dunlop tires gripped the pavement instantaneously and the X5 rocketed forward as I selected my own shift points using the shift paddles. I managed to get closer to six seconds on multiple occasions, with one run taking a mere 6.1 seconds to complete.
The vehicle never missed a beat, and in fact, it achieved these numbers with so little effort that I could picture taking the X5 to a track day event without too much concern, although the brakes might be subject to excessive wear and tear due to the weight of the vehicle.
Canadian buyers will appreciate the fact that the sure-footed X5 is equipped with BMW’s venerable xDrive all-wheel-drive system as the weather patterns in this country can be very unpredictable at times. During the winter months xDrive will help you conquer snow, slush, and slippery road conditions, but it is also perfectly suited for travel on gravel roads and cottage trails.The BMW X5 M Sportline features an aggressive front fascia that has been designed to reflect the company’s long history with motorsport.
The new X5 retains much of its styling of the outgoing model, although a great deal of work has taken place to lower the coefficient of drag. The slippery new shape features a new front fascia, fenders and undercarriage design that incorporate innovative improvements to reduce air resistance and fuel consumption.
The integrated Air Curtain channels air through two vertical air inlets and along the front wheel arches. The accelerated air flow creates what BMW’s designers refer to as a “curtain” on the outer side of the wheels. Then there’s the Air Breather, which channels the air flow at the front wheels.
An automatic air vent control uses a sensor to continuously assess the current cooling needs of the engine and opens or closes the radiator air vents, situated behind the front kidney grills, in response. This optimizes aerodynamics and shortens the warm-up phase for reduced fuel consumption.
All those years of research and development at the track continue to pay off for BMW, as further aerodynamic tweaks are evident at the rear of the vehicle. The rear spoiler that sits at the roof edge combines with the Air Blades (joined to it at the sides) to form a highly efficient “trailing edge”. This aerodynamic device acts to define air flow at the rear with such precision that it negates the effect of disruptive air swirl and keeps the braking effect of negative pressure to a minimum.2014 BMW X5 xDrive50i
The new X5 is immediately recognizable as a BMW due to its twin kidney grille and upright proportions. However, the X5 now incorporates taller side windows which greatly improve visibility and give the passenger compartment an airy feel, which is further enhanced by the expansive glass panel roof. Large wheels and wide tires give the vehicle an aggressive stance which is accentuated by subtle fender flares.
The interior is more refined than that of the outgoing model, and it is obvious that fit and finish has been improved. The very business-like cabin comes equipped with all the comfort and convenience features expected in a premium SUV, and a deep options-list includes all the latest safety technologies.
The demand for premium SUVs like the BMW X5 has always been strong in Canada’s urban centres as they offer the perfect mix of comfort, luxury and utility. For those consumers looking for sharp looks, impressive fuel economy and an optimal driving experience, the 2014 BMW X5 will be hard to beat.
Type of vehicle All-wheel-drive, front-engine, full-sized SUV
Engine 3.0 L twin-turbocharged 24-valve in-line six-cylinder engine
Power 300 hp @ 5,800 -6,000 r.p.m.; 300 lb.-ft. @ 1,300-5,000 r.p.m.
Transmission EightsSpeed automatic transmission
Brakes Four-wheel disc with ABS
Price: base / as tested $62,990 / $85,155
Destination charge $2,095 + $595 Freight Admin. Fee
Natural Resources Canada fuel economy L/100 km 11.4 city, 7.5 highway
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