2010 X5 M New Car Test Drive
The BMW X5 calling card is not off-road capability or cargo capacity. It's driving dynamics. This sport-utility isn't as refined or holistic as BMW's best sedans, but the comparison is generally on the mark. Think of the X5 as a 5 Series wagon with more headroom and a bit more cargo space.
For 2010, the high-performance BMW X5 M joins the lineup. The X5 M uses a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 that makes a whopping 555 horsepower. X5 M comes standard with BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system, a stiffer suspension, and sport seats. Exterior cues indicate its performance potential.
In addition to three gasoline-powered models, BMW offers a diesel-powered model, the X5 xDrive35d, which is as clean as any of its gasoline counterparts. The diesel model improves mileage nearly 25 percent compared to the X5 xDrive30i with its gasoline-powered six-cylinder, yet the diesel accelerates faster and can tow more.
The BMW X5 emphasizes the sport half of the sport-utility equation, even with the diesel engine. While the current model offers more utility than ever, the X5 comes up short in cargo-passenger flexibility compared to many luxury SUVs. As opposed to hauling acres of equipment and gear, the X5 provides the equipment enthusiast drivers expect when they want to enjoy the art of driving as much as they're able. Just plan to travel fairly light.
All four BMW X5 engines deliver plenty of usable torque for good acceleration, and the X5 M engine is a beast. The gasoline engines feature turbine-like smoothness. The inline six-cylinder in the xDrive30i delivers the kind of response we expect in a sports sedan, and it shouldn't leave owners pining for the V8s. The 4.8-liter V8 in the xDrive48i simply offers more power for passing and towing. The X5 M version is stunningly fast. No matter what powertrain you choose, you won't be disappointed.
The X5 is styled in obvious BMW fashion, only taller, with traditional Bimmer cues like the twin-kidney grille and dual-beam headlight clusters. Inside, it offers plenty of room for five, with a nice, rich finish and nearly all the bells and whistles one expects in a high-line luxury sedan. The back seat is more than roomy enough for two adults, three in a pinch, and there's enough cargo space in back for a two-day family outing. The X5 can expand to seven-passenger capacity with an optional third-row seat, but that third seat won't look particularly inviting to anyone asked to ride in it, and it wipes out the cargo space.
The X5 is not a traditional SUV. BMW shuns the SUV tag entirely, describing the X5 with it own copyrighted label: Sport Activity Vehicle, or SAV. With all seats lowered for maximum cargo capacity, it offers less space than do most competitors, from Acura to Volvo. The gas-powered models aren't class leaders in fuel economy. And sport in the X5 context does not mean off-road capability. While the X5 has some mild off-road prowess, the xDrive all-wheel-drive system was developed for slippery roads and sporty driving rather than sand dunes and rutted hillsides. Indeed, the X5's strength is its ability to get down the road in the step-on-the gas, shove-it-through-corners fashion of a genuine sports sedan.
The X5 can tow a substantial 6,000 pounds, however, and the all-wheel-drive can be a great friend in a blizzard. Those sound like the credentials of an SUV.
The X5 gets high marks for safety. It performs well in both government and insurance industry crash tests, and it has been designated one of the Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
In addition to the new X5 M model, 2010 changes to the X5 lineup include some equipment upgrades. Now in its fourth generation, BMW's iDrive control system gets a revised menu interface, an 8.8-inch display screen and an 80-gigabyte hard drive to hold navigation map information and music files. HD radio is now standard and automatic high beam headlights are offered as a stand-alone option. Finally, the rearview camera adds a top view that gives 360-degree vantage when backing up.
The 2010 BMW X5 comes in four models, all with a six-speed automatic transmission and standard xDrive all-wheel-drive.
The BMW X5 xDrive30i ($47,500) and xDrive35d ($51,200), have the same standard equipment, but different engines. The 30i is powered by a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine delivering 260 horsepower and 225 pound-feet of torque, while the 35d has a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel engine that makes 265 horsepower and an impressive 425 pound-feet of torque. The diesel also qualifies for a federal tax credit of roughly $1,500. Standard equipment on both models includes vinyl upholstery; 10-way power-adjustable front seats; dual-zone automatic climate control; interior air filter; memory for the driver's seat, mirrors and steering wheel; cruise control; leather-wrapped, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio controls; split-folding second-row seat; power windows, locks and heated exterior mirrors with tilt-down back-up aid; remote keyless entry; sunroof; 12-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with high-definition radio; rain-sensing wipers; trip computer; automatic headlights; rear cargo cover; fog lights; roof rails; adaptive xenon headlights; and P255/55R18 run-flat tires on alloy wheels.
The BMW X5 xDrive48i ($56,200) is powered by a gasoline V8 with 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. It also adds leather upholstery, wood interior trim, and a load-leveling air suspension.
The X5 M ($85,400) has a high-performance twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 that makes 555 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque. To the xDrive48i, the X5 M adds heated M front sport bucket seats, an M steering wheel, the M Drive control system, auto-dimming outside and rearview mirrors, universal garage door opener, BMW Assist concierge service, a navigation system with voice recognition and real-time traffic information, hill ascent control, front and rear park assist, an upgraded sound system with 16 speakers and 600 watts of power, headlight washers, larger brakes, sport suspension, Active Roll Stabilization, and P275/40R20 front and 315/35R20 rear tires. It also has aluminum interior trim in place of wood.
Options are clustered in packages. The Technology Package ($2,800) includes front and rear park assist, a rearview camera and a navigation system with voice command and real-time traffic information. The Cold Weather Package ($1,250) adds retractable headlight washers, heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats and a ski bag with rear-seat pass-through, while the Rear Climate Package ($900) adds four-zone climate control, manual rear sunshades and privacy glass. A Driver Assistance package ($1,800) adds a rearview camera, a head-up display, and self-dimming headlights.
The M Sport Package ($6,500) includes an increased top-speed limiter, M sport seats, M sport steering wheel, aluminum roof rails, a black headliner, adaptive suspension with Active Roll Stabilization, 19-inch wheels, heavily bolstered sport seats, shadowline interior trim, and Anthracite exterior trim. A Premium Package ($2,200-$3,400) adds leather upholstery, front-seat power lumbar support, power tailgate, auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors, digital compass, power-folding exterior mirrors, universal garage door opener, Bluetooth phone interface, and BMW Assist with a 4-year subscription.
Options available as standalones include a premium sound system with 16 speakers, a six-CD changer and an iPod adapter ($1,400-$2,000), Active Ventilated 20-way front seats with a massage feature for the driver ($2,100), rear-seat DVD entertainment system ($1,700), ultra-soft Nappa leather ($2,400-$3,850), Comfort Access keyless starting ($1,000), satellite radio ($350), iPod and USB adaptor ($400), leather dashboard and console trim ($1,900), split-folding third-row seat with self-leveling rear suspension ($1,700), head-up display ($1,300), Active Steering ($1,500), and running boards ($300).
Safety features include front airbags with two-stage activation, side-impact airbags built into the front seats, first- and second-row curtain-style airbags with rollover deployment, and a tire-pressure monitor. Active safety features include hill-descent control, electronic stability control with rollover mitigation, traction control, and advanced anti-lock brakes with a brake assist, pre-loading and water-sweeping feature. All X5 models come standard with run-flat tires, which allow operation at 50 mph for up to 90 miles when completely flat.