First Look: 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35d – Review

By Jonathan Spira on 8 October 2013
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Back in 1999, when BMW was busy introducing the X5 Sport Activity Vehicle DSC_0636(which was the Bavarian automaker’s way of explaining it was not offering an SUV, at least not a typical one, while emphasizing the car’s on-road strengths), the blue-and-white faithful were in a state of disbelief.  How could a large truck handle like a BMW they wondered out loud?

Well, lo and behold, the first-generation X5 did in fact drive and handle like a BMW, and what’s more, it looked like one, too.  It turned out to be a harbinger of things to come, as more and more carmakers began to move from truck-based body-on-frame SUVs to unibody car platforms for this category.

The second-generation X5 further improved the driving dynamic and was good enough to qualify for full M treatment including a tri-turbo M Performance diesel version in Europe.

Now we are at the dawn of a new age: the third generation of the BMW X5, which will be going on sale shortly as a 2014 model.  BMW is launching the all-new X5 with two gasoline engines and a rear-wheel-drive model as BMW has come to the sensible conclusion that all-wheel drive is not needed everywhere, especially considering that the greatest amount of off-roading by X5 drivers is probably confined to their driveways.DSC_0640

The X5 xDrive35i and the X5 sDrive35i (BMW uses the sDrive moniker for rear-wheel-drive cars where an xDrive vehicle also exists) come with a 3.0-liter, single-turbocharged inline-six with 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque.  The X5 xDrive50i has a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 that develops 445 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque.

The award-winning BMW X5 xDrive35d (it was The Diesel Driver’s 2011 Diesel Car of the Year) will be back as well, although a few months after the petrol variants.  It comes with a 3.0-liter inline-six – the same one that’s in the 2014 BMW 535d we just reviewed – with 255 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque.


BMW says that the exterior is more aerodynamic and 200 pounds (91 kg) lighterDSC_0538 than the outgoing model and few will confuse the two to be more than siblings separated by a number of years.

The front end is defined by the massive front grille that connects to the LED headlights.  Naturally the twin kidney grilles are present and more prominent than before.  Each headlight cluster is comprised of two corona-ringed lamps topped by a row of LEDs.  The end result is a clearly recognizable – and very modern and muscular – face.

The body is especially elegant in profile.  A character line that extends at door-handle level from the front wheel arch continues all the way to the taillight. Behind the front wheel well, a vertical air extractor starts a second character line that runs along the bottom of the driver’s door and gently disappears as it approaches the rear wheel well, giving the car an aggressive stance.

The taillights are reminiscent of those on the X1 and the hockey-stick light bars focus one’s eye flow on the large BMW Roundel.

Click here to continue to Page 2Inside the New X5, Fuel Economy, and Driving the New X5

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