2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i

2014 BMW X5

2014 BMW X5

Bottom Line:  Unquestionably stylish, the BMW X5 is a superb premium level SUV.  It delivers a deliciously tactile driving experience with excellent road dynamics, and its ‘base’ 300 horsepower turbocharged inline-six cylinder engine provides silky smooth, torque rich power to please all but the hardest core horsepower junkies.  Those demanding max power need only tick the box for the 445 horsepower V8 xDrive50i variant.

The 2014 BMW X5 is one of the best looking SUVs on the road

The 2014 BMW X5 is one of the best looking SUVs on the road

First love

The first time I laid eyes on BMW 2002 in the late ‘60s, I was smitten.  Hard.  The proportions of the car were just right.  The 2002 (and later high performance variants, the twin-carb 2002 Ti and fuel-injected 2002 Tii) became indelibly imprinted in my developing automotive brain.  Sadly, any BMW was hopelessly out of reach for me.  I vicariously watched race-prepped 2002s bang fenders with 1750 Alfa Romeo GTVs and Datsun 510s in the B Sedan class when the legendary Trans Am race series showed up at the now defunct Edmonton International Raceway.

I still love BMWs, and the all-new-for 2014 X5 is no exception.  To my eye, the X5 is a rolling sculpture and one of the cleanest styled SUVs on the road today.  Our test unit was a well-equipped xDrive35i, meaning it was equipped with the ‘base’ 3.0-litre turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engine.  Don’t let the ‘base’ designation fool you.  With a stout 300 horsepower, the inline six is silky smooth and torque is plentiful.  Mat the accelerator and you’re rewarded with a pleasant snarl and response that’s impressive enough to make you there’s a small block V8 nestled under the hood.  Matched to an 8-speed automatic, the powertrain is satisfyingly responsive. m And some fans of the German marque acclaim the turbo-3.0-litre inline 6-cylinder engine as BMW’s finest powerplant.  That’s hard to disagree with.

Interior is driver-centric with an almost Bauhaus simplicity.  We like it!

Interior is driver-centric with an almost Bauhaus simplicity. We like it!

X5's front seats have low bolsters, making entry and exit easy, a necessity for a daily driver

X5’s front seats have low bolsters, making entry and exit easy, a necessity for a daily driver

 

How’s the X5 as a daily driver?

The X5 is an outstanding daily driver.  Maybe that’s why I see so many of them in our part of western Canada.  Interestingly, we tested the X5 right after living with the 2014 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, and frankly, six days out of seven, I’d rather drive the BMW.  Let’s ignore the fact that the Porsche rings in at almost $100,000 MORE than the BMW, and the Bimmer is down 155 horsepower to the big, bad Porsche.  The X5 has flatter seats with lower bolsters, making it easier to enter and exit, and the cabin feels more open and spacious.  Surprisingly, the X5 feels lighter, more agile and generally more responsive than Porsche’s flagship SUV.

The X5 interior is airy, spacious and is sculpted with clean, horizontal lines.  Ingrid said the BMW’s cabin felt much larger than the Cayenne’s, whose interior is borrowed mainly from the Panamera and upon entry, has an overwhelming array of buttons and controls.  The BMW feels almost Bauhaus stark, and that simpler design philosophy appeals to my driving sensibilities.

The X5's HVAC and audio controls are much easier to decipher than the Porsche Cayenne's

The X5’s HVAC and audio controls are much easier to decipher than the Porsche Cayenne’s

After a week of driving, the only quirk we uncovered on the X5 is the lengthy period it takes for the engine to warm up and begin delivering heat.  In extreme cold winter testing (-24 C), even after more than a dozen kilometers of freeway driving, the engine’s water temperature gauge had barely moved off the cold mark.  Granted, we hadn’t plugged in the block heater overnight, but this BMW seemed much slower than average to warm up.  Thankfully, the heated steering wheel and front seats made the wait for the heater to kick in more palatable.

Overall, the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i is our favourite premium luxury SUV.  Handsome styling, a driver-centric interior, and very rewarding on-road performance makes  the X5 one of our top picks of the 2014 crop of new vehicles.

 

Specs

2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i
MSRP/Price as-tested $62,900/$77,950
Engine 3.0-litre DOHC turbocharged inline-6 cylinder
Power 300 horsepower @ 5,800-6.000 rpm; 300 lb-ft @ 1,300-5,000 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic, full-time all-wheel-drive
Tires/Wheels P255R50/19 (winter)
Fuel Economy Rating (L/100km) 11.4/7.5 L/100 km (city/hwy), premium unleaded fuel

 

 

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