Introducing The Diesel Driver’s New Long-Term Car: the 2012 BMW X5 xDrive35d

By Jonathan Spira on 19 June 2012
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A BMW X5 xDrive35d is the newest member of The Diesel Driver’s long-term fleet.  In a recent online poll, 28% of The Diesel Driver’s readers correctly guessed that our new car would be the X5.

(Admittedly, 35% voted for the VW Passat TDI, 10.5% favored the Audi Q7 TDI, 5.3% said it would be the Volkswagen Touareg, and the remainder of the ballots were spread out across the Audi A3 TDI, the Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTec, ML350 BlueTec, and S350 BlueTec, and the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, Jetta Sportswagen TDI, and Golf TDI.)

The BMW X5 diesel was introduced at the same time as the BMW 335d (our first long-term vehicle).  The X5 itself first appeared in 1999 and was completely redesigned in 2007.  It underwent a mid-life refresh (BMW calls this a Life Cycle Impulse, or LCI) for the 2011 model year, receiving a new front bumper and air intakes, a new rear apron as well as numerous minor cosmetic changes.

Along with an updated look came significant improvements in infotainment technology.  The X5 now comes with BMW Apps, a low-cost option ($250) that brings compatible iPhone apps and certain other functionality into the BMW in an integrated fashion. Currently, supported apps include Facebook, Twitter, and Internet radio powered by TuneIn Radio, as well as the ability to display the iPhone’s calendar and last-mile navigation, allowing the driver to remove the iPhone from the car and get directions from his parking spot to the actual destination.  Pandora and Mog are also supported.

The X5 xDrive35d remains the fastest and most fuel efficient vehicle in its category. It accelerates from 0 to 60 in 6.9 seconds with fuel economy figures of 19 mpg (12.8 l/100 km) city/26 mpg (9.0 l/100 km) highway/22 mpg (10.7 l/100 km) combined.  Compare this with the  2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTec, which goes from 0 to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds with fuel economy figures of 20 mpg (11.8 l/100 km) city/25 mpg (9.4 l/100 km) highway/22 mpg (10.7 l/100 km) combined.

The X5 is fitted with the same engine that was in our 335d, a 3.0-liter oil-burning I-6 that uses Bosch common-rail direct fuel injection (feeding fuel at up to 26,000 psi) with a compression ratio of 16.5:1.   It develops 265 horsepower and 425 pound-feet of torque and we noticed when we previously tested the X5 that acceleration was basically effortless, despite the car’s heft.

In addition, the X5 is a 50-state diesel, meaning it meets emissions requirements in all 50 states. It achieves this by injecting AdBlue (urea) into the exhaust, rendering Nox harmless.

The X5 comes equipped with the Sport Activity Package, which includes an anthracite headliner, sports steering wheel, and 19” alloy wheels; Cold Weather package, including heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, a ski bag, and retractable headlight washers; Premium Package, which comes with a rear-view camera with Top View, retractable window shades on the rear doors, navigation, real-time traffic; Comfort Access keyless entry; BMW’s premium hi-fi system; Technology Package with head-up display, side-view camera, and automatic high-beams; a Panoramic sunroof; multi-contour heated front seats; Park Distance Control; Lane Departure Warning; BMW Assist; and BMW Apps.

The base price of the X5 is $56,700.  As equipped, it ran $69,345.

We’re picking up our X5 at the BMW plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, near Greenville, taking advantage of the carmaker’s Performance Center Delivery program. As part of this program, BMW offers a number of perks including one night’s lodging at a nearby luxury hotel, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, factory and museum tours, and a very intensive half day of driving instruction.