2011 BMW X5 xDrive35d Review and First Drive

By Jonathan Spira on 8 September 2011
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The BMW X5, which first appeared in 1999 as a 2000 model, was completely redesigned for the 2007 model year.  In 2009, BMW of North America introduced the diesel-powered X5 xDrive35d alongside the BMW 335d.   In many respects, the X5 diesel competes against the Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTec ,the Audi Q7 TDI, and the Volkswagen Touareg TDI although each has unique qualities.  The four are the only diesel-powered SUVs available in the U.S. at the present time.

We last looked at the BMW X5 diesel at the beginning of 2010 and the car we liked then has gotten even better.  In the first two quarters of 2011, 24.5% of BMW X5 drivers chose the diesel mode as opposed to the comparable petrol variant, down from 29% in the first half of 2010.

For 2011, the X5 got a new front bumper and air intakes, a new rear apron as well as numerous minor cosmetic changes. BMW claims that its engineers created a total of 4000 new parts for the 2011 model but this includes two new engines and drivetrains for the gasoline-powered versions.

The X5 xDrive35d remains the fastest and most fuel efficient vehicle in its category (its 0-60 time is 6.9 seconds with fuel economy 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 versus, for example, the new 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.

Most of the significant changes relate to infotainment technology.  As of March production, the X5 comes with BMW Apps, a low-cost infotainment option ($250) that brings compatible iPhone apps and certain 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.

To use the apps, simply download the BMW Connected App from the iTunes store (it’s free).  BMW Apps is fully integrated with the vehicle including the iDrive display and controller and the iPhone is connected to the car using the standard iPhone USB cable or a snap-in adapter in the center armrest that provides charging.

Once connected, the phone is operated using the iDrive controller and buttons on the multi-function steering wheel.

BMW recently added support for Pandora and announced plans for a Mog app.  The Pandora app allows the driver (or passenger) to access existing stations, create new stations, rate tracks with a thumbs up or thumbs down, and bookmark songs.  The Mog app will bring that company’s on-demand streaming music service, which includes access to virtually any artist, album, or song, and Mog’s unique “artist only” radio, plus the ability to store music on the iPhone and tap into Mog radio and Mog’s curated content (e.g. new releases, editor’s choice, and top charts).

Click here to continue to Page 2 – Driving the BMW X5 xDrive35d

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