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Some crossovers and SUVs have gone through seemingly radical transformations as of late, perhaps risking rugged reputations in favour of a little more on-road finesse and dynamic vigour. That's not so much the case with the all-new 2014 X5; BMW keeps the focus of the X5 remarkably close to that of its original 'Sports Activity Vehicle' mantra--except there's more technology and style, warmer cabin appointments, and a little more lean performance.
While the second-generation model that was introduced for 2007, BMW introduced more power, better handling, and an array of in-cabin luxury and technology features that was more in sync with what you might find in the automaker's flagship sedan models. The all-new third-generation X5, which will reach US dealerships beginning in the fourth quarter of 2013, takes it a step further.
Initially, there will be three models in the X5 lineup. The familiar 220 kW, 3.0-litre TwinPower Turbo in-line six-cylinder engine is the base engine, in the xDrive35i, while the X5 xDrive50i includes the 4.4-litre TwinPower Turbo V8, making 330 kW and 650 Nm of torque, as low as 2,000 rpm. Then a few months later, an xDrive35d model will join the lineup, powered by a 3.0-litre TwinPower Turbo in-line six-cylinder diesel engine, producing 190 kW and 560 Nm. Acceleration times are improved throughout, with V8 models capable of getting to 100 km/h in just 5 seconds and xDrive35i models making the dash in 6.2 seconds. And for the first time--perhaps eyeing the success that Infiniti has had with its FX--BMW is adding a rear-wheel-drive sDrive35i model.
Curb weight is reduced by up to about 100 kg--enough of a difference that we expect to feel behind the wheel. There's also new electric power steering throughout the model line. All models include an eight-speed automatic transmission, and all but the base sDrive35i have xDrive all-wheel drive. Click into Eco Pro mode, and the X5 will recalibrate a host of systems for better fuel-efficiency, with Auto Start/Stop included.
There's plenty of emphasis (and some important option boxes to check) on road performance. Go for the Dynamic Handling Package, and you'll get Active Roll Stabilization in addition to Dynamic Damper Control and a rear air suspension. Opt for the M Sport model and you can get an Adaptive M suspension that pairs Dynamic Damper Control and the air suspension with a stiffer, sport-tuned setup.
One chassis advancement is Dynamic Performance Control (part of the Dynamic Handling Package), a system that manages xDrive and more finely controls the power split for the system, taking “handling dynamics and directional stability to new levels,” according to BMW.
The new X5 has been nipped, tucked, and far more gracefully sculpted than the models before it—and you can see influences from the latest X3 along with BMW's latest sedans. The combination of tapered roofline and somewhat lowered beltline give the X5 a bit more of a sport-wagon look than before. Meanwhile, the front airdam design is complex, with several levels of detailing that come together in a way that's possibly overwrought (we'll wait 'til we see it in person).
The front kidney grille is “thrust forward,” as BMW puts it, while it's supplemented with a smirk of a horizontal intake just below—and a larger intake down below. Headlights are set high up, and better-detailed than ever. Meanwhile, alongside BMW succumbs to the side-gill look, with a character line swooping upward to the LED taillights, which notch inward at a cleanly styled hatch.
Those side gills, however, are functional—part of new drag-reducing Air Curtains that guide airflow around wheel arches. Meanwhile, the X5 is the first BMW to feature so-called Aero Blades—air-channeling elements that work together with the roof spoiler.
Inside, the design will be instantly familiar to anyone who's been in other late-model BMWs. Only here the horizontal-shelf layout, with a cockpit-style instrument zone, is wrapped over (and just behind) by a separate layer that merges in with the rest of the dash at the door trim. Poplar wood trim is standard, and Dakota leather upholstery is standard on the xDrive50i and available on the other models. For the first time, two interior design packages (Ivory White and Mocha) bring lighter or warmer interior combinations than what's been previously offered by BMW.
Luxury Line and xLine packages bring more personalization, with coordinated interior trims that are a step more attention-getting—with Satin Aluminum and high-gloss finishes in the xLine and a blacked-out grille chrome strips, and some sporty cues for the Luxury Line. The M Sport adds a body kit, Shadowline trim, high-gloss roof rails, sport seats, an anthracite headliner, and various other high-performance cues.
The second-row seat in the X5 can now be split 40/20/40, for more flexibility, and they're adjustable for rake. If you get the optional third-row seats, there's separately a new Easy Entry function. Overall cargo capacity is up seven percent versus the previous model, BMW says, and there are new storage and door pockets that can hold larger bottles. The tailgate is still split in two sections, with the upper section including power operation. Get the power tailgate system, and it can be opened from the keyfob or the driver's seat.
Active-safety features are heavily represented in the X5's hefty list of options. LED front foglamps are included across the model line; all X5 models now include Adaptive Xenon headlamps, while Adaptive LED headlamps are optional. New features include the Active Driving Assistant (Lane Departure Warning, and a pedestrian collision system with braking), plus ACC Stop & Go (full-range camera-radar cruise control), and a new Traffic Jam Assistant that maintains following distance and keeps the vehicle at the center of its lane by providing steering input. BMW Night Vision and a head-up display remain on offer, as well as a Parking Assistant, Surround View system, and Active Blind Spot Detection.
Advanced Real Time Traffic Information is also available as part of a BMW Assist Convenience Plan, and BMW Apps (now with various audio-app options) are now standard. And buyers have a choice of two premium-audio systems—Harman Kardon or Bang & Olufsen. A BMW Navigation system is standard in all U.S. X5 models, and it has a new freestanding 10.2-inch screen and touch pad.