- Potent and efficient engines
- Luxurious and comfortable interior
- Huge list of features
- Steadfast high-speed stability
- Mediocre utility
- Higher price than many rival luxury crossover SUVs
You still occasionally see original, first-generation BMW X5s on the road. In today's context, they look a little awkward. Their narrow width and tall body evokes a 5 Series wearing platform shoes. But credit BMW's foresight; the Germans knew what America wanted before we did: a luxury SUV that didn't drive like an SUV.
Fourteen model years later, BMW is hoping that it still knows what you want with its redesigned 2014 BMW X5. Performance? Luxury? Utility? Yep, it's all still here. BMW says it wanted to keep everything previous X5 owners liked. But it also wanted to bring the vehicle as up to date as possible. And we have to admit, it makes sense: Even last year, the final year of the previous, second-generation model, the BMW X5 was one of our favorite picks for a midsize luxury crossover SUV.
For the 2014 model, you get the feeling that BMW is stepping carefully. The new X5 looks a lot like the previous model. It's a handsome rig to be sure, but at first glance you might mistake it for an older X5 or even an X3. Overall size and weight are pretty much the same, effectively guaranteeing the X5's capable handling and stability remain intact. The interior is similar as well, though this time it's a bit roomier and classier-looking. The second-row seat is now split in 40/20/40 sections, improving utility, and a third-row seat is still available. Of course, the X5 can still be loaded up with features to your heart's content, and this year you can select different design themes for a bit of extra customization.
Under the hood you'll find another round of déjà vu. The turbocharged inline-6 in the 35i trim level is still available and unchanged. The X5 50i's turbocharged V8 is still here, too, though it now produces a heady 445 horsepower and gets slightly better fuel economy to boot. The most intriguing choice this time around is the 35d model and its diesel-fueled engine. Its 255-hp output is essentially the same as before, but it gets a few tweaks and is finally paired to the eight-speed automatic for even better fuel economy.
The original X5 entered a small field of competitors back in 2000, but midsize to large luxury crossover SUVs abound now. And that presents you with some choices. From a family-hauling standpoint, the 2014 BMW X5 still isn't ideal. BMW's own X3 isn't that much smaller, for instance, and although the X5 does offer a third-row seat, it's laughably small compared to those in the less expensive 2014 Acura MDX and Infiniti QX60. And if it's performance you're after, the new 2014 Range Rover Sport and 2014 Porsche Cayenne are also excellent choices. But overall, we think very highly of the latest X5 and gave it an "A" rating. Even with subtle improvements, it's a paradigm for a luxury crossover with presence, power and refinement.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2014
The 2014 BMW X5 has been fully redesigned. Evolutionary in nature, it features updated styling, revised engines and slightly more interior space.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2014 BMW X5 will come in three main trim levels: 35i, 35d and 50i, which essentially indicate what's under the hood. All have all-wheel drive ("xDrive"), though there is also a rear-drive version of the 35i available ("sDrive").
Standard equipment for the 35i and 35d include 18-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, foglights, a panoramic sunroof, a power liftgate, front and rear parking sensors, automatic dual-zone climate control, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, 10-way power front seats (with four-way power lumbar), driver memory settings and heated front seats. Electronic features include BMW Assist, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, smartphone app integration, a 10.2-inch central display screen, the iDrive controller, a navigation system, voice controls (navigation), and a nine-speaker sound system with a CD player, a USB interface and HD radio.
The X5 xDrive50i is equipped very similarly, though it has 19-inch wheels, leather upholstery, 16-way power ("multicontour") front seats, a rearview camera and a top-down camera system as additional standard features.
Naturally, a wealth of option packages is available to further customize your X5. Starting things off are three optional equipment lines -- Luxury, xLine and M Sport -- that include different wheel designs (up to 20 inches), color schemes and trim and upholstery types. M Sport also includes sport front seats and a sport steering wheel with shift paddles for the transmission.
From here, you can go with the Premium package that adds soft-close automatic doors, keyless ignition/entry, satellite radio and leather upholstery (35i and 35d). The Luxury Seating package gets you the 16-way power front seats (35i and 35d) and ventilation for the front seats. The Cold Weather package includes a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats.
The Driver Assistance package features a rearview camera and a head-up display (35i and 35d). To this, the Driver Assistance Plus package adds adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, a top-down camera system, speed-limit info, lane departure warning, forward collision warning (including pedestrians) and city collision mitigation. The Dynamic Handling package adds adaptive suspension dampers, a rear air suspension and active suspension antiroll bars.
Some of these features are available as stand-alone options. Other X5 options include active steering, LED headlights, automatic high-beam control, automated parking assist, upgraded and/or extended leather upholstery, upgraded interior trim, four-zone automatic climate control, rear window manual sunshades, second-row comfort seats and a third-row seat (includes the rear air suspension). You can also order a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system or an even more expensive 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround-sound system. Lastly, a rear-seat entertainment system and a night-vision camera system are available.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
As with most BMWs, the X5's interior layout is elegant, with solid construction and high-quality materials. Models with the upgraded and extended leather options are particularly impressive. From the driver seat, you're presented with classic BMW gauges and a large central display screen with crisp graphics. The front seats are nicely shaped and adjust for a wide range of body types, while the optional multicontour seats offer even more adjustments.
The iDrive interface works well for controlling and adjusting all of the X5's systems, and this year's version includes a touchpad on the control knob for handwritten inputs. In our experience, though, iDrive typically take a few more clicks and twists of the control knob to get what you want; some rival systems are easier to use.
Utility can also be a concern. The second-row seats are comfortable, but rear legroom is merely adequate. The optional third row is even more cramped and will be a tight fit, even for children. With both rows folded, cargo space measures 66 cubic feet, which is about average for the segment. One distinct attribute of the X5 continues to be its split two-section liftgate. The lower, smaller section pulls down flat, making it easy to sit on for tailgating.
Every 2014 BMW X5 includes stability and traction control, antilock brakes, automatic brake drying, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and active head restraints. Also standard is the BMW Assist emergency communications system, which provides automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle recovery and on-demand roadside assistance. In a simulated panic stop from 60 mph, the X5 xDrive35i took 122-feet, which is an average distance for the segment.
Optional safety features are effectively grouped into the Driver Assistance packages, and they include a rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring, a top-down camera system, lane departure warning, forward collision warning and a collision mitigation system that can apply the vehicle's brakes automatically to prevent or minimize a head-on impact at low speeds.
In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the new X5 earned a top score of "Good" for its performance in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset impact test and the side-impact test. The performance of the optional collision mitigation system earned their top "Superior" rating.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The sDrive35i (rear-wheel drive) and xDrive35i (all-wheel drive) models feature a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine that produces 300 hp and 300 pound-feet of torque. At our test track, the xDrive35i sprinted from a standstill to 60 mph in just 6.2 seconds, which places it at the top of its class. All X5s regardless of engine or drive configuration get an eight-speed automatic transmission. All xDrive versions also have hill descent control.
The EPA estimates the sDrive35i's fuel economy at 22 mpg combined (19 mpg city/27 mpg highway). The xDrive version is just slightly lower at 21 mpg combined (18 mpg city/27 mpg highway).
The xDrive35d features a diesel-powered 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 that produces 255 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. The EPA estimates the 35d will return a seriously respectable 26 mpg combined (23 mpg city/31 mpg highway).
The xDrive50i gets a turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 good for 445 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. At the pump, you're looking at 17 mpg combined (14 mpg city/22 mpg highway).
Properly equipped, the X5 can tow up to 6,000 pounds.
The 2014 BMW X5 is one of the best-handling midsize luxury crossovers around. Whether driving on back roads or on an endless expanse of interstate, the X5 is a champ, feeling secure and stable, yet also relatively fun to drive (though perhaps not as much as the previous version). Road and wind noise are pleasantly muted (depending on speed and the surface, of course), but buyers looking for a Lexus-like comfy-couch ride may find this Bimmer a bit firm (especially with the optional 20-inch wheels).
Engine performance is strong throughout the lineup, even with the base six-cylinder. The turbocharged V8 is a beast, and acceleration isn't that far off from the previous generation's X5 M model. But our favorite is the 35d's diesel six-cylinder. Its prodigious torque output gives you quick acceleration around town, yet it's still strong enough for easy passing on the highway. The top fuel economy is just a bonus.
Thanks to subtle improvements all around, the redesigned 2014 BMW X5 is a top choice for a luxury crossover SUV, especially if performance is a priority.