You'll Like The 2011 BMW X5 If...
If you would be driving an upscale German sport sedan such as a BMW 5 Series but want or need more utility, better ground clearance along with all-wheel-drive security, this may be the right fit for your garage.
You May Not Like The 2011 BMW X5 If...
Because the X5 is substantially more expensive than competitors with similar capabilities, and its ride and handling balance is biased toward firmer road handling, you may be happier with something softer-riding and more affordable.
For 2011 the X5's gasoline engines have been updated and are now paired with an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission. Along with subtly tweaked styling, the 2011 model includes new options like active cruise control and a lane departure warning system.
The X5's beautifully crafted interior has good leg and shoulder room with fold-flat second-row seats and a generous cargo capacity. The glovebox has unique upper and lower electrically powered doors that lock and unlock with the central locking system. A multi-function keyless remote and a start/stop button replace the conventional ignition switch and key, while a console switch for the electromechanical parking brake replaces the traditional lever. The three-spoke steering wheel has multi-function controls, including enhanced dynamic cruise control and two programmable switches. An optional third row is offered on all but the lowest trim, expanding the X5's capacity from five occupants to seven.
The 2011 X5 morphs BMW's current crease-sided design language into a tall wagon shape larger in all dimensions than the original model, yet not much different in appearance. The signature twin-kidney grilles are prominent between a sculpted power-dome hood and a body-colored lower fascia with large intakes and a matte-silver protection plate. Clear lenses cover quad round headlamps encircled by luminous rings that double as parking lamps and daytime running lamps. The outboard fog lamps also serve as cornering lamps. In back, a functional roof spoiler houses the high-mounted brake lamp, and large dual exhausts are imbedded in the lower fascia.
Despite its size, weight and optional third-row seats, the 2010 BMW X5 remains one of the few largish sport utilities that can be fun to drive for serious drivers. This is due to its sophisticated suspension (double-pivot front and multi-link rear), H-rated all-season tires, variable-assist rack-and-pinion steering and powerful four-wheel disc brakes. We're still not huge fans of BMW's electronic shifter or iDrive multifunction controller, but, once underway, the X5 goes, stops, steers and holds the road like a luxury sport sedan. BMW's ultra-responsive Active Steering and larger wheels and tires, up to a 20-inch performance set, are available on the 50i with Sport Package.
The 2010 BMW X5 35i has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at just under $47,700. That's slightly more than the competing Mercedes-Benz ML350 and Audi Q7, and significantly more than the starting MSRP of the Acura MDX. The X5 35d pushes the price past $52,000, while the 50i starts at a little more than $59,000. Overall, the X5 50i is roughly $24,000 less than the V8-powered Mercedes-Benz GL550 and $3,000 less than the Audi Q7 4.2, but only a few hundred dollars less than the Infiniti FX50. The X5's projected residual values down the line best the Cadillac SRX, Acura MDX, Mercedes-Benz GL550 and Audi Q7. Before buying, be sure to check Fair Purchase Prices to see what X5s are selling for in your area.
The X5's generous allotment of standard features includes xDrive all-wheel drive, all-season run-flat tires on 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon adaptive auto-leveling headlamps with automatic control, power tilt and telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, dynamic cruise control, 10-way power front seats with memory, leatherette upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control and AM/FM/CD/MP3 12-speaker audio with auxiliary input and HD Radio. Standard safety equipment includes Dynamic Stability Control, Hill Descent Control, trailer stabilization, rollover protection system and two-stage front, front seat-mounted side and front and rear head-curtain airbags. All versions of the X5 get BMW Ultimate Service, which includes roadside assistance and all recommended maintenance for four years/50,000 miles.
Many X5 options are grouped into packages, including an Active Ventilated Seat Package with 20-way adjustable multi-contour front seats, a Premium Sound Package, a Rear Climate Package with four-zone climate control and privacy glass, a Cold Weather Package, an M Sport Package (larger wheels, sport seats, electronic damping control, active roll stabilization), a Technology Package (Park Distance Control, rearview camera with Top View and navigation system with Real Time Traffic information), a Convenience Package (power tailgate, auto dimming mirrors, ambient lighting) and a Premium Package with power tailgate, BMW Assist with automatic collision notification. The long list of stand-alone options includes Active Steering, third-row seat, Head-up Display, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, rear-seat entertainment system, Nevada or Nappa leather, heated front and rear seats, Park Distance Control, navigation, performance tires and 20-inch wheels.
xDrive Full-Time All-Wheel Drive
With limited ground clearance and all-season tires, the X5 has few off-road aspirations, but it does have one of the best all-weather all-wheel-drive systems out there, which electronically varies front-to-rear torque and traction control to optimize grip.
Xenon Adaptive Headlamps
These are auto-leveled and steered in response to steering angle, vehicle speed and turning rate to light more of the road through curves and dips, and all four are encircled by luminous rings that serve as parking and (if desired) daytime running lights.
Under the Hood
The 2010 BMW X5 is available in 35i, 35d and 50i models. The 35i is powered by a 300-horsepower turbocharged in-line six, while the 50i is driven by a 400-horsepower twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter all-aluminum V8. Both engines feature direct injection, variable valve timing and BMW Brake Energy Regeneration, a system that, under most circumstances, disengages the alternator during acceleration. When combined these technologies contribute to better-than-expected fuel efficiency for such performance-oriented vehicles. A carryover from 2010, the 3.0-liter diesel, employs twin turbochargers to produce V8-like power with V6-equivalent fuel economy.
3.0-liter in-line 6
300 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
300 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25
3.0-liter in-line 6, turbodiesel
265 horsepower @ 4200 rpm
425 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26
400 horsepower @ 5500 rpm
450 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20
When BMW introduced its first "crossover" SUV (CUV) in 2000, its marketers called it a "SAV" for "Sports Activity Vehicle." The point was to separate it from other sport utilities of the time and position it as a BMW-appropriate blend of performance and handling with practicality, versatility and all-weather capability. For the most part, it worked, for both the positioning and the vehicle. The original X5 was not the roomiest or most practical of SUVs, but piloting it down a twisty two-lane ribbon of road was a revelation. It drove like a taller version of the 5 Series Sedan, which, in many ways, it was. The 2011 version is all of that, and roomier, as well.