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2014 BMW X5 First Drive: Introduction
On the occasion of the introduction of the new 2014 BMW X5, we are reminded of the genesis of its predecessor. When it was introduced back in 1999, the X5 represented a number of firsts for BMW. It was the company’s first foray into the SUV segment, it was the first BMW to be built in North America, and it became the world’s first “Sports Activity Vehicle”.
Reluctant to file a formal admission the BMW X5 was an SUV, and reflective of the company’s decision to make it more capable on pavement than as an off road device, the BMW X5 marketing team coined the acronym SAV, so it didn’t have to go with SUV.
Thing is, that first BMW X5 was truly reflective of the chosen nomenclature. It went like stink on pavement, handling with adroitness previously unknown to the class. Further, it rode comfortably, its drivetrains were eerily smooth in operation, and it offered enough luxury to be taken seriously by wealthier suburban moms who felt they needed an all-wheel drive two-ton parkway panzer to get the ever-precocious Ashley and the always-rambunctious young Cody to soccer practice. Some fourteen years later, we have the third generation of what has become a venerable member of the Sport Utility Sports Activity Vehicle segment.
Truth be told, one of the leaders actually.
The 2014 BMW X5 has a slimmed down exterior appearance, harboring a more luxe oriented interior, albeit covering a lot of the same mechanicals. This is not so much of a big deal though—the company had that part very right anyway. What we have here now is a handsome, reasonably sized, terrific handling vehicle, capable of seating seven (in a pinch), with an exceptionally luxurious interior, and a strong European pedigree.
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2014 BMW X5 First Drive: Lineup and Prices
Four versions of the 2014 BMW X5 are being offered at launch.
The rear-wheel drive 2014 BMW X5 sDrive35i will start at $53,725, and is the first rear-drive only X5. The all-wheel drive 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i is priced at $56,025. The all-drive 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35d diesel starts at $57,525. And, the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive50i will start at $69,125. All of the above prices include $925 for destination and handling charges.
Three trim packages are offered to enhance the X5 model of your choice; Luxury Line, xLine, and M Sport.
Elements of the $1,700 Luxury Line package include body colored wheel arches and underbody trim, black bars in the kidney grilles trimmed with high gloss chrome faces, as well other chrome trim elements around the exterior of the X5. Roof rails can be specified in either high gloss or satin finish aluminum.
The $2,600 xLine package nets a more rugged appearance set for the 2014 BMW X5. The chin of the BMW gets finished in brushed aluminum and the kidney bars are finished in matte silver. Aluminum running boards are also elements of the package. A set of staggered sized tires and wheels with 20-inch Y-spoke wheels are available as an option.
Performance people will appreciate the $4,600 M Sport setup. Multi contour sport seats, and an M Adaptive suspension system are options, as are a set of staggered 20-inch wheels and tires. But the standard stuff includes an aero body kit, shift paddles for the eight-speed automatic transmission, an M-Sport steering wheel, and aluminum pedals with M-logoed doorsill trim.
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2014 BMW X5 First Drive: Styling and Interior
As we mentioned earlier, the look of the 2014 BMW X5 has been slimmed considerably, where the previous model was almost Rubenesque in its voluptuousness, this new X5 is more linear of line, yet still immediately recognizable as a BMW X5. This is in no small part due to the adherence to the characteristic BMW styling traits. The short front overhang, long hood, four round headlights, and of course the ubiquitous kidney grilles. By the way, for this new model, the grilles stand more upright and extend into the headlight housings.
If you look closely at the front end, you’ll see a stylized “X” pattern in the front bumper structure. LED foglights are standard across the board for the 2014 BMX X5 models. The headlight haloes are now flat at the bottom and overlap their mates at the top for a freshened appearance. Huge air intakes telegraph the performance potential, while the Air Curtains in the front fascia work with the Air Breathers in the front fenders to reduce drag around the wheels.
The sculpted sides of the 2014 X5 give it a more dynamic appearance, while also adding visual interest. Without them, there would just be a broad expanse of unadorned sheet metal on the sides of the BMW. The large window openings ensure good visibility as well as a quality of airiness for the interior. Of course the traditional Hofmeister kink is at the trailing edge of the side windows.
The lower cladding along the sides of the X5 protects the body from dirt, while the wide shoulders of the BMW, when viewed from the rear, impart a sense of strength. The horizontal line across the rear just below the window gives a n impression of width and it’s all finished nicely with a set of LED taillights.
Inside, the new X5 benefits from more premium materials. Further, the design stretches the horizontal lines as far as possible to enhance the impression of spaciousness. The three level dash treatment adds more texture, as well as more substance to the look. The seats are finished with a multi-paneled upholstery treatment, giving them a richer, more substantial look, while multicolored ambient lighting (you can choose from a selection of three colors) imbues character to the passenger cabin after dark.
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2014 BMW X5 First Drive: Comfort and Cargo
Designed with long distance travel in mind, the overall comfort of the X5 is outstanding. The seats are exceptionally supportive, and do a wonderful job of holding you in place. Over the course of a full day of driving the X5 models we never once fidgeted in our seats. Nor was there any constant shifting about in search of a more comfortable seating position. You simply get in; set your seat up the way you like it and it disappears beneath you—as it proceeds to do its job.
Despite the tall ride height, even older people and/or the infirmed can quite readily accomplish ingress and egress of the X5. Despite its ground clearance, stepping into the BMW is rather easily accomplished.
From the driver’s perspective, all of the controls are readily accessible. In true BMW fashion, it’s like they seek you out, the moment you need them. Everything, as auto writers are prone to say; “falls readily to hand”.
BMW’s “Comfort” seating is offered for rear seat passengers with the new X5, featuring adjustable backrests and heating. The optional third row of seats folds flat into the floor when not deployed.
Speaking of the backrests, they are configured to fold 40:20:40 to permit the maximum amount of flexibility between carrying passengers and additional cargo. This gives the 2014 BMW X5 the ability to handle up to 66 cubic feet of stuff. The figure is 23 cubic feet when the rear backrests are in place, rather than folded. Loading and unloading is made easier thanks to the X5’s traditional two-piece rear tailgate. Naturally, power operation of the upper section of the tailgate is a standard feature.
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2014 BMW X5 First Drive: Safety and Technology
Leading the list of safety features for the 2014 BMW X5 is BMW Assist with 10 years of emergency calling, Automatic Collision Notification, and BMW TeleService. In an accident, the BMW “phones home”, tells the call center where it is, which way it was going, and employs an Urgency Algorithm to provide a sense of how significant an event it is reporting.
With this information, the call center can get emergency services personnel headed the X5’s way in a much shorter period of time. The system can also be triggered manually to enable BMW drivers to act as Samaritans for those of other lesser-equipped vehicles found to be in trouble. BMW’s TeleService takes into account hours of usage and conditions of usage to inform the driver of maintenance needs when they arise—based on the car’s specific experiences.
The iDrive system has been updated to incorporate a Touchpad system. Integrated into the top of the iDrive controller, it permits phone numbers, contact names and address to be written out directly. It can also be used to zoom in and out on the map in the navigation system—as well as set parameters for the audio system. While we’re on the subject of the navigation system, in addition to the usual directional information, it also provides speed limit intel.
The X5 models also offer a Head Up Display, Night Vision, Active Cruise Control with a stop and go function, Active Blind Spot detection, Lane Departure Warning, and an Active Driving Assistant to warn the driver of potential collisions. The headlights can be fitted with full LED headlights, which incorporate High Beam Assistant to automatically switch between high and low beams.
The BMW’s rear view camera and Park Distance Control are supplemented by a Surround View function which enables the driver to view the areas immediately adjacent to the car on the monitor from a bird’s eye view.
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2014 BMW X5 First Drive: Engines and Transmissions
Three engines are offered to power the 2014 BMW X5 models at launch; BMW’s TwinPower Turbo 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder powerplant is the base engine. Configured to produce 300 horsepower and 300 ft-lbs of torque, it uses a single turbo with a twin set of vanes—one larger and one smaller.
Both gasoline engines employ high-pressure direct fuel injection and electronically variable valve control to maximize power output and efficiency. They both also employ the twin-scroll turbochargers to eliminate turbo lag. The smaller set of vanes spin continuously so minimal boost is always supplied to the engines. When heavy usage is called for, the larger vanes pump boost and the engines can respond immediately as they are already operating under boost.
The 4.4-liter V8 fitted to the X5 xDrive50i gets a pair of the twin-scroll turbos situated between the V of the cylinder banks to shorten the path of their input charge. This delivers exceptional efficiency and further serves to reduce turbo lag. The V8 generates 445 horsepower and 480 ft-lbs of torque.
The other 3.0-liter six-cylinder X5 powerplant is BMW’s turbocharged diesel. Also employing TwinPower Turbo technology, the diesel supplements this with common rail direct injection of fuel. Output is rated at 255 horsepower and 413 ft-lbs of torque.
All 2014 X5 models get BMW’s eight-speed automatic transmission.
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2014 BMW X5 First Drive: Driving Impressions
We drove both gasoline powered variants of the 2014 BMW X5; starting out in the xDrive35i. Immediately, we were struck by the smoothness of the engine and how well it meshed with the silken character of the X5 in general. Further, the transmission shifted efficiently and was never caught in the wrong gear.
The first section of our drive was through the city, where the auto start/stop proved to be one of the least obtrusive applications of this technology we’ve experienced. The engine shut down smoothly and reignited without any untoward vibration. It simply started running again as we released the brake after the traffic signal changed.
Out on the open road, the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i pulled strongly, handled curves with minimal body roll, and tracked straight and true with considerable discipline. We found all of the controls to be perfectly responsive and excellent partners in the business of covering an abundance of ground in a minimal time.
In short, the 2014 X5 xDrive35i was a pleasure to drive.
An interesting thing happens when you’re driving really good car. After a while, you stop paying attention to the automobile and just drive. Conversely, when you’re driving a problematic vehicle, everything calls attention to itself.
Quiet, smooth, and graced with considerable fluidity, the 2014 BMW X5 was easy to ignore. And frankly, this is why we buy luxury cars in the first place—to ignore them and let them handle the mundanities, freeing us to do what need to do to pay for them.
Ditto for the xDrive50i, save one exception.
You know you’re in command of a powerful V8 when you’re piloting this beast. The engine rumbles, grumbles, and even roars — depending upon what you require of it at differing junctures. Mind you, it’s highly mellifluous and not at all disturbing—but it does make its presence known, in a very good way.
Given the xDrive35i powertrain does such a good job of motivating the 2014 BMW X5, the only reason we can suggest getting the xDrive50i setup is you just like the way it sounds. Yes, it’s quicker than the 35i, but if you never experience the 50i, you won’t miss it. The 35i is that good.
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2014 BMW X5 First Drive: Final Thoughts
All in all, the 2014 X5 represents a significant improvement over the outgoing model. While we didn’t go deeply into it in this review, a number of enhancements to the body structure and the suspension system both improved handling and made the X5 quieter.
Further, the Dynamic Handling Package and the Adaptive M suspension system promise to improve the BMW’s responsiveness even more. The Driving Dynamics Control even allows you to tailor the way the X5 behaves to the way you feel, or your particular need at any given moment, or in any particular situation.
This really is the best X5 BMW has ever offered.
However, there are a number of very strong competitors out there now, Audi, Mercedes, Porsche, and Range Rover all have some very compelling product in this segment.
If you’re shopping in this category, you’ll do well to take a good look around.
That said; we do like the new X5—very much.
It’s hard to go wrong with a BMW.
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