The X5 has always been a sturdy work horse for BMW, falling into the wide bracket that ranges from luxury SUVs to large 7-seater family SUVs It set a new tone and benchmark that the rest of the market quickly followed. Over the years it has had its ups and downs. The X5 and other models like Audi’s Q7 and Mercedes-Benz ML all started to gain the tag of soft roaders and or soccer mum’s cars. Sadly both tags are very true. We have also seen some exciting and more crazy models like the X5 M50D, a triple turbo diesel with some mind-blowing torque figures. Now in its third generation BMW show no signs of letting this model sink from the top of consumer’s checklists. Rob and myself both shared this test drive over the course of a week, two thoughts based on our different lifestyle choices.
John – The X5 is no small unit, and has always held a fond place in my heart due to its great styling and overall stance on the road. This unfortunately does not seem to have followed through as strongly as it was on the previous E70 model. The X5 has a very prominent face, taking what looks like the styling from the new sedan and coupe range and stretching it to fit and fill the volume of the big X5. Upon first look I am not so sure the signature kidney grills need to be big enough to suck animals and small children into them, perhaps the more aggressive models require more air and cooling than the base model we are road testing.
Rob – Initial glance I quite like the curves of the X5. I think they’ve just got it right with the nose and the lights and grille work well. The diagonal lines along the side probably give it a sportier look than a car of its size deserves. We were let down on the model we tested though as the rims really were too small, and didn’t suit the size of the car at all.
John – The X5 felt very easy to drive, with light steering and an adequate amount of power from the inline 4 cylinder turbo engine considering the weight and size of the car. I was quite impressed with this engine as I was not aware it was a 4-cylinder before I picked it up, just that it was a 25d. My first thoughts to that were, really, such a small engine in a big heavy SUV like that, ugh this wont be fun at all. But the engines today are not like the engine of yesteryear, and this engine had more then enough power for anyone’s daily requirements. Very smooth and easily controllable power, mixed with a very smooth and almost unnoticeable 8 speed gear box.
When you are inside the X5 you can see everything, you are up high and you have huge windows all around. This is something that you seem to lose in the crossover models like the X4 and X6, as the windows become narrower and your seating position is lower in the car. I found the general seating position quite comfy, very upright, which is always a bit more comfy for taller people. The new dash feels very sleek, sweeping from one side to another with a big solid center console right in the middle. I found the majority of the interior quite well thought out, but then you do find the odd thing here and there and wonder, “why did you do that?” after so much good design work has gone in elsewhere. The storage tray at the top of the centre console was a bit of a design fail in my opinion, it had a nice area to chuck a few items in like a wallet or phone, but this is also where the cup holders are, and if you have two drinks in there and then want to get something out of the storage unit you can’t, you have to lift the bottles out of the way, which is not ideal.
The boot space is massive, and with the back seats down, it became a cave. As luck would have it I was selling two large old single-seat leather lounge suite chairs on Trademe, and thought that it’s worth testing the space in the X5. I was quite surprised when I got both of them in there top and tail, with no hassles at all. And compared to my own 550 wagon it had considerable more height in the boot space with the back seats down. This combined with the split rear door, made for very easy access and the ability to lift larger items in without having to lean into the car too much.
Rob – For the large car that the X5 is, I must say I found the steering incredibly light, yet always responsive. I may be dreaming but I was sure that when in Sports modes the steering got slightly heavier, which in my mind makes sense with the expected ‘sportier’ style of driving you’d likely be pursuing. As far as power was concerned it always had plenty when I needed it for the first X5 four-cylinder. The torque had it cruise up hills with ease, though I did notice a slight lag when going from standstill. Most cruise controls that I’ve used seem to be on a stick on the steering column. With the X5 this is found on the front of the steering wheel. I quite liked this positioning in preference to stick control. The surround view camera system is definitely a neat feature to have for nailing it between the lines if that’s something you struggle with, or are concerned about kerbing your rims. I did find at one point it stopped working completely (it came back with the car restarted), so it’s probably important to keep up the skill of reverse parking regardless.
Certainly one of the coolest and surprising features though is the blue night light strip that runs along the side doors and across the dash. It’s a mark that gives the feel that you’re driving around a mobile cinema and left me wanting to drive through tunnels and go back out again at night just to see it. I found myself as excited as my two young boys who thought it was equally as cool. The front doors even had the slightest double strip of blue, to complete the feel.
When retrieving bags of shopping from the boot, the single push button to close the boot was a godsend, and made an uncomfortable task extremely easy as anyone who has tried the manually closing boot can testify to. The horizontal split door (reminiscent of Toyota Landcruisers) was also a nice feature. The rear boot liner of the lower section left something to be desired, as I have seen far sturdier fittings on much lesser models of SUV than the plastic before me.
What it’s up against.
BMW have always been very strong in this segment, and its a segment that continues to grow and out grow many of the other segments in the NZ market. There are a lot of options out there, and I think the base look of the BMW may hinder it more than it had in the previous models, as other manufacturer’s base models do not look like an entry-level large SUV. That being said, there is a growing number of women owners who make the call on which SUV they get for the family, and the way I perceive its looks may not be a factor.
Mid Size Luxury SUV’s
|Brand / Model
|Price Highest to Lowest
|3.0 L V6 Turbo Diesel
|155 Kw / 580 Nm
|6.8 L / 100km
|BMW X4 xDrive35d
|2.0 L Inline 4 Twin Turbo Diesel
|160 Kw / 450 Nm
|5.9 L / 100km
|3.0 L V6 TDi
|150 Kw / 450 Nm
|7.2 L / 100km
|Mercedes-Benz ML 250 BlueTec
|2.2L I4 Turbo Diesel
|150 Kw / 500 Nm
|6.4 L / 100km
|Land Rover Discovery
|3.0 L V6 Turbo Diesel
|155 Kw / 520 Nm
|8.8 L / 100km
|3.0 L V6 Turbo Diesel
|150 Kw / 400 Nm
|7.4 L / 100km
The good and the bad.
What do we think ?
Overall Rob and myself both liked the X5, just not this variant. It’s a little too bland for our tastes. But this is why manufacturers offer many different versions. The X5 is no home run either, but it’s a very easy to live with SUV. Comfy, spacious, and the 25d gets great fuel consumption. If you have kids, this is close to being one of those no-brainer decisions as a daily driver. The only major problem we could see is that it’s not the cheapest option out there, and if you do have a family, a 10k gap between options is a pretty big and good reason to consider the alternatives.
Rating – Chevron rating 3.5 out of 5
2014 BMW X5 xDrive 25d
|Front Engine, 4WD Large Luxury SUV
|$ 112,500 NZD
|$ 115,800 NZD
|2.0 L Twin Turbocharged Diesel I4, 160 Kw, 450 Nm
|8-Speed M Double Clutch Drivelogic
|0 – 100 kph
|Length x Width x Height
|4487 x 1938 x 1763 mm
|Urban – 6.8 L/100kmMotorway – 5.4 L/100kmCombined – 5.9 L/100km, 148 g/km CO2
|ANCAP Safety Ratings
|Yet to be tested