2002 X5 New Car Test Drive
BMW's X5 is fast, comfortable, and prestigious. It delivers superb handling and excellent performance. As if its 4.4i wasn't quick enough, BMW has introduced a 347-horsepower 4.6is model.
Logically, the X5 makes little sense. It is not highly capable off road when measured against other capable sport-utilities. It offers less cargo capacity than a 5 Series wagon with an uncomfortably high load floor. It does not offer quite the on-road performance, handling or braking of a sports sedan or sports wagon in their respective price ranges.
Logic may not be the key factor here, however. The X5 is sporty and stylish, often attracting attention. It's quick. It works well in foul weather. And it offers that commanding seating position that many people like. It also has that twin-kidney grille and BMW's reputation for quality and driving excitement. Perhaps those are among the reasons X5 sales are strong. BMW sold more than 40,000 X5s during the 2001 calendar year.
The new BMW X5 4.6is model takes SUV performance to new heights with a powerful V8 that delivers 0-60 mph acceleration times in the 6.5-second range, which is very quick, indeed. It offers a potential top speed of nearly 150 mph, which is seriously fast for a vehicle this large. Massive tires offer impressive cornering grip and stopping power.
It may be the best-handling SUV on the road. Muddy trails are easily negotiable. Inside, it's luxurious and comfortable.
Three models are available: 3.0i ($38,900); 4.4i ($49,400); and the new 4.6is ($66,200).
BMW launched the X5 for 2000 as one upscale model powered by a 4.4-liter V8 engine mated to a five-speed automatic Steptronic transmission. It comes standard with 18-inch wheels. For 2002, power from the 4.4-liter V8 has been increased to 290 horsepower.
For 2001, the 3.0i model was added with a 2.8-liter six-cylinder engine. It comes standard with a five-speed manual gearbox (ZF Type C); BMW's five-speed Steptronic is optional. The X5 3.0i comes standard with 17-inch wheels.
For 2002, the 4.6is has joined the model line with a 4.6-liter V8 rated at 347 horsepower and 354 pounds-feet of torque. That falls under the category of mega-horsepower. It comes with a five-speed Steptronic transmission similar to the one found on the X5 4.4i, but it's programmed for a more sporting character and uses a different top gear ratio. The 4.6is comes standard with 20-inch wheels with W-rated 275/40 tires in front and 315/35 tires in the rear that are wide enough to impress Fred Flintstone. Unique trim cues distinguish this model, including a rear air diffusor, wind splitters at the sides of front and rear bumpers, a titanium-finish bumper grille, Shadowline trim with clear turn signal and side marker lenses, and big dual chrome oval exhaust outlets. Xenon high-intensity discharge low-beam headlamps and rain-sensing windshield wipers are standard.
All 2002 models have been upgraded with an in-dash CD player as standard equipment, optional automatic headlight control, and more options for seat adjustments. Adjustable ride height is a new option on the 3.0i and 4.4i models (not available on 4.6is). Other option packages have been added.
To help keep drivers on the road and in control, all X5s come with full-time all-wheel drive and Dynamic Stability Control, which includes traction control, electronic brake proportioning, Dynamic Brake Control, an electronic stability program, and Hill Descent Control. X5s benefit from a four-wheel independent suspension, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, and rack-and-pinion steering.