BMW, the German automaker famous for sports sedans and sports cars, is jumping into the sport-utility market this year with the X5. The X5 will be built at BMW's Spartanburg, S.C., plant, where the Z3 sports car is produced.
With the X5, BMW joins a growing list of high-priced marquees such as Cadillac, Infiniti, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln and Mercedes-Benz in offering luxury SUVs. BMW, however, says the X5 is not an SUV, but a "sports activity vehicle" with four-wheel drive and the driving dynamics of a BMW sedan. The X5 is built on a passenger-car platform that BMW says is unique to this vehicle and has a unibody design like a car.
Inside, the X5 will have the look and amenities expected of a BMW: a leather-trimmed interior with seats for five, familiar red instrument panel lighting and an array of controls at the driver's fingertips. It also will have the high seating position expected in an SUV, and a split folding rear seat for more cargo room. Options will include an in-dash CD player, eight-way power front seats, a heated steering wheel, a moonroof and a navigation system.
BMW can say it isn't an SUV, but it sure looks like one. The four-door X5 has classic BMW front styling highlighted by twin kidney-shaped grilles. At 184 inches long, it is a few inches longer than the