BMW X5 xDrive40i: What a sporty SUV should be

Posted by Shane Kalicharan about 10 months ago

Canadians and Americans have a love affair with crossovers and SUVs and it’s not slowing down. As much as auto enthusiasts begrudge the lack of wagons and hatchbacks, which can certainly be as practical as a crossover, the market demand just isn’t there. BMW was one of the first to popularize the sporty crossover and SUV back when they first introduced their X line of vehicles – and the truth is, they’ve pretty much written the formula. Do they still have it right? We took the new X5 for a spin to find out.

The design of the new X5 is certainly more evolutionary. It’s bigger in size, but a natural progression from the previous generation, but at a glance, not significantly different in appearance. The larger kidney grilles and more angular approach to the brand’s signature ‘angel eyes’ give it an air of aggression. The restyled rear taillights echo BMW’s new back end design with a larger plastic portion on the taillights. This generation X5 uses the company’s so called 'Cluster Architecture' – meaning it shares a platform with some other BMWs. In this case, the 5-series and the 7-series. It’s hard to say the X5 would stand out on the road however. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s the M-cars for that.

Inside, the dashboard look and feel is what we’d expect from BMW – a simple, clean and hopefully functional layout. You’ll also get two 12.3-inch digital displays. One for the gauge cluster and another for the iDrive system. Not to mention a heads-up display in front of the driver. It might sound like information overload but the layout is very simple to follow. Navigating iDrive does have a bit of a learning curve but easily becomes second nature once you’re used to it. It may cross into nitpicking territory, but we miss the split screen function from the previous version of iDrive. But that aside, the cabin of the X5 is a pleasant place to be with some welcome tech like Apple Carplay and Android Auto built in.

Our tester came with some nice luxuries including heated, ventilated and massaging seats. We do find BMW’s massage to be a bit mild, even at its most aggressive setting. It’s not to everyone’s liking but if you value aesthetics, consider purchasing the $850 Glass Application option. You’ll get some nice glass touches on the interior, including a solid chunk of Swarovski crystal for a gear shifter. Some would say glam, others would say tacky. It’s totally subjective. But we think it elevates the luxury of the cabin, and looks a great deal nicer than the standard plastic shifter.

The powerplant in the X5 40i comes in the form of a 3.0L turbocharged inline-6. There is also a V8 option available, but after driving with this one, we’d be hard pressed to recommend upgrading. The engine is butter-smooth and feels powerful. An aggressive exhaust, complete with some pops and crackles, make the 335 horsepower engine feel exceptionally powerful and responsive. Turbo lag is virtually undetectable. The engine is paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission that suits the vehicle well. Our fuel economy was about what we’d expect for a vehicle like this. We averaged just over 10 L/100km over our week of evaluation, but admittedly didn’t make much effort to drive conservatively.

The punchy engine is complemented well by the handling setup of the X5. It is a commuter car at the end of the day, but BMWs have always had an air of sporty handling to them. We found the body roll was very manageable in corners and the steering nice, light and responsive. As much as auto enthusiasts may dislike the switch to electronic steering, it’s probably fair to say it’s going to become the standard – and the X5 does it well. For the typical buyer, it’ll be more than adequate.

There’s a lot to like about the X5. It’s not a bad price for a luxury SUV. It comes with lots of tech to keep you safe, connected and comfortable, and gives you more than enough power to get your blood flowing if you want to plant your foot down. With options like a third row, a crystal gear shifter and even an off-road package, you have a lot of freedom to make the car your own. The price does add up as you peruse the options and packages however. But at the end of the day, this is still by far one of the best sporty SUV’s money can buy.

BMW, BMW X5, BMW Review, German Car, SUV, Crossover, X5

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