Just don't call it an SUV. No, it's an SAV, or Sports Activity Vehicle, a leader in its segment that's built right here in the U.S. Since making its debut seven years ago, BMW has gone on to sell nearly 600,000 of these home-built SAVs, attracting a range of buyers with six- and eight-cylinder engines, manual and automatic transmissions, a promise of the brand's Ultimate Driving Machine character, and amenities expected from a premium vehicle.
When it arrives in late November, the 2007 BMW X5 aims to meet the challenge with a more powerful, 260-horsepower inline six, an available 350-horsepower V8, a new six-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, a newly available third-row seat that pushes seating capacity to seven, enthusiast goodies like Active Steering and AdaptiveDrive, and a crisp, more muscular appearance. What buyers won't find is last year's manual transmission, a third-row seat that's terribly spacious, or what is an absolute must on any “Sport” Activity vehicle and a glaring omission – paddle shifters. Even so, those few points are only enough to slightly dull the shine of the X5, which that starts at $46,595 and remains a helluva lot more fun than a Prius.