2014 BMW X5: First Look

  • Competes with: Audi Q7, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Mercedes-Benz ML, Land Rover LR4
  • Looks like: A new 3-Series, stretched and pulled over a tall wagon frame
  • Drivetrain: twin-turbo 3.0-liter six-cylinder, twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8, twin-turbo 3.0-liter six-cylinder diesel, eight-speed automatic transmission and rear- or all-wheel drive
  • Hits dealerships: Fall 2013

BMW has redesigned its 3-Series, 5-Series and X3 in recent years and now it's the X5's turn. The popular "sport activity vehicle" (an SUV to the rest of the world) gets new styling and content that follow themes we've seen in those other new BMWs and keeps it current with the ever-changing crop of luxury trucks in the segment.

For 2014, a new model joins the X5 family, one that offers rear-wheel drive instead of the all-wheel drive that has been standard on the X5 since its introduction two generations ago.

Styling is a predictable evolution from the previous generation and carries the latest BMW themes very well — this is still an attractive SUV, and the updates don't change that. Inside as well, everything is recognizably BMW style — from the football ovoid curves of the dash to the odd little paddle-shaped gear selector, it's familiar territory if you've been in the latest from the German automaker.

Three powertrains will be available when it goes on sale this fall. The standard model is the X5 sDrive35i, which comes with rear-wheel drive and a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine making 300 horsepower and 300 pounds-feet of torque (all-wheel drive is optional, making it an X5 xDrive35i). Stepping up from there is the all-wheel-drive X5 xDrive50i, featuring a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 making 445 hp and 480 pounds-feet of torque. Finally, for those who want frugality and power, BMW is offering the X5 xDrive35d, which comes with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder diesel engine. It cranks out 255 hp but 413 pounds-feet of torque, and is expected to boast significantly improved fuel economy over even the current diesel X5 thanks to the addition of an eight-speed automatic transmission, standard on all X5 models.

All models also feature a new Eco Pro mode, which modifies engine management, throttle response, shift characteristics, climate control and more to maximize fuel economy. Even the navigation system gets involved, with the option to select the most fuel-efficient routes to your intended destination.

BMW will offer three distinct exterior looks for the X5, "Lines" as the company terms them. The xLine option adds satin aluminum and gloss black trim to the exterior, and includes aluminum running boards and gray-painted 19-inch wheels. The Luxury option gets body-color trim pieces for a more monochromatic look, plus chrome and glossy painted trim for exterior elements such as roof rails. The third look is the M Sport, which adds an aerodynamic body kit and blacks out much of the exterior trim. Changes are also made to the interior for the M Sport, with an M-badged steering wheel, dark headliner, aluminum trim, new sport seats and a special tune to the automatic transmission. Two special interior design packages are also available, an Ivory White or Mocha brown Nappa leather interior.

The X5's split tailgate design and seven-passenger seating carry over to the new model, which gains 7% more cargo room. Some new electronic features are also available, including BMW's new Traffic Jam Assistant, which essentially acts as a low-speed autopilot, accelerating, braking and even steering the car to keep it in its lane in stop-and-go traffic up to speeds of 25 mph. Several connectivity functions are also available, including BMW apps, a remote concierge function and a standard 10-year subscription to BMW Assist eCall service.

We expect to learn more about pricing closer to the on-sale date later this year.

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