For 2011, BMW's all-wheel-drive X5 crossover sports revised styling and more streamlined trim levels. It also adopts the turbocharged six-cylinder and V-8 engines seen in models from the 3 Series to the X6. Both pack more power than last year's normally aspirated engines. X5 competitors include the Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz M- and GL-Class and Acura MDX.
The X5 comes in xDrive35i and xDrive50i trims, both with new engines. The diesel-powered xDrive35d and high-performance X5 M, meanwhile, carry the same drivetrains as last year.
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BMW says the 2011 X5 has more than 4,000 new parts versus the 2010 model; comparatively few of them, however, adorn the exterior. Styling changes are fairly light: The standard fog lights have been moved inboard, and the grille and tail carry more body-colored elements. Like before, the headlights include BMW's illuminated rings for daytime running lamps.
Changes to the rear include a reshaped lower bumper and revised tailpipes. Eighteen-inch alloy wheels are standard, with 19-inchers optional. An M Sport Package adds more aggressive bodywork and 20-inch wheels.
The X5's interior continues mostly unchanged. The dash places a wide screen atop the central air vents, with navigation and other interfaces within. It's controlled by BMW's latest-generation iDrive system, whose knob controller now has various shortcut keys surrounding it for easier usage. The automatic transmission continues to employ a console-mounted electronic shifter.
Seating for five is standard; an optional third-row seat raises capacity to seven. Other options include a panoramic moonroof, power-adjustable steering column, USB/iPod connectivity, and heated and ventilated seats.
Under the Hood
The xDrive35i uses a new turbocharged six-cylinder that makes 300 hp and 300 pounds-feet of torque — up 40 hp and 75 pounds-feet of torque over last year's normally aspirated X5 xDrive30i. With a new eight-speed automatic transmission, BMW says 60 mph for the xDrive35i comes in 6.4 seconds.
That's how long it took last year's 350-hp, V-8 xDrive48i to reach the mark. Its replacement, the xDrive50i, has a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 that makes 400 hp and 450 pounds-feet of torque. Fitted with an eight-speed automatic, the xDrive50i can hit 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds, BMW estimates.
Both models employ a new Brake Energy Regeneration system, so under most conditions, the X5's battery recharges only during braking or coasting. Overall, the system can save 1 percent to 2 percent on fuel consumption, the automaker says.
The X5 xDrive35d carries over with the same drivetrain: a twin-turbo diesel six-cylinder with 265 hp and 425 pounds-feet of torque. Sixty mph comes in 6.9 seconds, BMW says; thanks to the higher efficiency of diesel fuel, EPA gas mileage tops the X5 range at 19/26 mpg city/highway. The xDrive35d uses a six-speed automatic.
All-wheel drive is standard on all models.
Safety features include dual front-impact, seat-mounted side-impact and two-row side curtain airbags. Three-row curtain airbags come on models with the optional third-row seat. Antilock brakes, traction control and an electronic stability system are also standard.
BMW's M performance division souped-up the X5 for 2010, and its drivetrain carries over for 2011 unchanged. It's powered by a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 that makes 555 hp and 500 pounds-feet of torque and uses a six-speed automatic transmission. Zero-to- 60 mph comes in 4.5 seconds — quicker than many sports cars. As to be expected of a performance offshoot, the X5 M carries unique bumpers, aggressive side sills and highly bolstered sport seats.
For sharper handling, the X5 M's all-wheel drive gains BMW's Dynamic Performance Control system, which apportions extra power to the outside rear wheel during corners. The X6 is the only other BMW to include this system. Back to top
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