2014 BMW X5 REVIEW
What’s Hot: RWD cheaper yet drives almost identical to AWD, plenty of features, space galore.
What’s Not: Smaller wheels look awkward, steering feel still lacking.
X-FACTOR: Entry-level doesn’t mean losing out on quality.
Vehicle Style: Premium SUV
Price: $82,900 (sDrive25d), $87,900 (xDrive25d)
Engine/Trans: 160kW/450Nm 4cyl diesel | 8spd auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 5.8l/100km (sDrive25d) | 6.0l/100km (xDrive25d)
Let me tell you, BMW’s latest entry-level additions to its big X5 range, the X5 sDrive25d and xDrive25d, are no "poverty-pack loss leaders".
They might be priced at the bottom rung of the range, but these twins are missing nothing in the way of premium features. Nor in performance.
The real story however is not the price, (which starts from $82,900) but what’s under the bonnet.
Here we have the first four-cylinder ever fitted to an X5, and it’s a cracker. A 2.0 litre twin-turbocharged diesel four, you can have it driving the back wheels (sDrive25d) or all four wheels (xDrive25d).
So how does a big SUV with rear-wheel-drive and a four-cylinder fare? And how does its AWD twin compare?
These were the questions burning through our mind as we set off on the Victorian launch route.
Here’s our report.
- Leather seating for all rows (option for seven-seats)
- Dual-zone climate control
- BMW Radio Professional incl. in-dash DVD player
- Touch-sensitive iDrive with 10.25” colour monitor and Navigation system Professional
- Bluetooth audio and telephony
- Voice Control System
- Reversing camera
- Self-dimming Interior mirror
- Cargo net in boot
Stepping into the range-opener, the sDrive25d, is impressive; it doesn’t feel at all like a stripped out version of the more expensive models.
The interior quality is still the same, the leather used on the seats is a medium grain, the stitching is still excellent and the glossy wood-finish highlights add a premium air.
Up front is a beautifully clear 10.25-inch infotainment screen controlled by a touch-sensitive iDrive dial, on which you can literally write letters and numbers with your finger, to narrow down lists.
If writing’s not your thing, you can always use voice control.
A reversing camera is standard, but you can also option the Surround View spec ($1300) which gives you a virtual bird’s-eye view. Handy so you don’t kerb your wheels when parallel parking.
The dual-zone climate control works well, and the standard stereo sounds excellent, with crystal-clear Bluetooth streaming.
BMW still persists though with the old-school phone connector which chews up valuable space under the armest. Time to ditch it gang.
The seats are very comfortable and are electrically adjusted. As per all X5s, there’s space for three across the back seat, and a massive boot with electric tailgate.
Plenty of room, decent quality, no complaints there.
ON THE ROAD
- 2.0 litre diesel twin-turbo inline four
- 160kW @ 4400rpm | 450Nm @ 1500-2500rpm
- Eight-speed auto transmission
- Rear-wheel-drive (sDrive25d) or all-wheel-drive (xDrive25d)
- 0-100km/h - 8.2 seconds (both models)
- Double track control arm with double joint front | Four-link multilink spatial rear (optional rear self-levelling airbags)
- Electric Power Steering
- Fuel Economy claimed: 5.8l/100km (sDrive25d) | 6.0l/100km (xDrive25d)
Two turbochargers help it to make a healthy 160kW and a respectable 450Nm.
Coupled with the eight-speed auto, that's enough to propel both the sDrive and xDrive versions to 100kmh in 8.2 seconds. Fuel consumption is listed as 5.8 l/100km for the sDrive and 6.0 l/100km in the xDrive.
While those figures sound excellent for a big SUV (which they are), it's worth noting that two of the six-cylinder diesel X5s (xDrive30d and xDrive40d) offer a heap more torque (560Nm and 630Nm) yet return a fuel figure of just 6.2 l/100km.
The ultra-smooth auto helps keep the engine in its peak torque range for most of the time. There is, however, a pronounced delay if booting it from a stand-still; it takes a moment to overcome the X5’s bulk.
In city traffic, the engine is quiet, tractable and nicely responsive on the roll, plus there’s auto stop-start to keep fuel use down.
In these conditions, which will likely be most of its work, it’s a willing performer and much more user-friendly than you’d expect.
On the highway, though certainly a long-legged tourer, you can feel the car's bulk and the effect of that upright SUV stance on wind resistance.
At speed, it lacks the rolling acceleration performance of the 30d (which is very quick) and overtaking requires a little more planning at triple figures.
The electric steering is a debit common to the new X5 range. It has quite an artificial feel and is a disappointment if you’ve come from the previous X5.
The weighting on the sDrive is noticeably lighter than the xDrive version, which because of its extra heft “feels” more natural. But that’s about the only reason you’d buy the xDrive.
Part of the drive route took in gravel roads around Mount Macedon and when thrown around, the sDrive’s stability control completely nullifies the need for all-wheel-drive. (Switch it off and you can slide it around quite predictably.)
Unless you’re constantly dealing with snow, it’s difficult to think why you would pay the extra $5K for AWD - the rear-wheel-drive sDrive25d seems perfectly up to the task.
Towing something? The sDrive gets the same 2700kg tow capacity as the other X5s, and because it’s rear-wheel-drive, the downforce is at the back end. Grip’s no issue, then.
Our cars were built with the standard suspension (adaptive suspension is an option) which allowed us to explore the normally sprung versions.
On normal city and country roads, the standard suspension is excellent, giving quite a firm ride (despite the smaller 18-inch wheels), but also imbuing it with excellent handling. But as the road gets rougher, you can feel the car struggling a little.
That’s not to say it was uncomfortable, but the ride can get jiggly across bad patches. Nine times out of ten, however, there will be no issues with the standard springs.
It’s worth noting however, that if you opt for a seven-seat X5 (an extra $4600), the rear gets upgraded to self-levelling air-suspension.
As a drive experience, apart from a bit less power than its bigger meatier siblings, both the sDrive25d and xDrive25d slot into the X5 range seamlessly.
ANCAP rating: The X5, since 2003, hasn’t been tested by ANCAP or EuroNCAP.
Safety features: Despite the lack of crash-testing, there’s a full suite of safety systems on offer.
Airbags surround the cabin, auto-unlock in event of a crash, stability control, hill-descent control, ABS, brake assist, deformation elements replaceable for crashes up to 15kmh, side-impact protection beams and disc brakes which are vented both front and back.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
BMW says that the volume seller in the X5 range will continue to be the 30d. After sampling the 25d however, we can see that situation perhaps changing.
While in typical BMW fashion there’s an options list as long as your arm, the standard inclusions are generous enough to justify the premium asking price and to ensure you’ll be happy with the blue-and-white propeller on the key fob.
For economy, torque, drive and quality-feel, BMW's X5 25d twins would seem to tick the key boxes for the premium SUV buyer.
In fact, pick the sDrive or the xDrive, each is a walk up start.
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
- BMW X5 sDrive25d -$82,900
- BMW X5 xDrive25d -$87,900
- BMW X5 xDrive30d - $99,900
- BMW X5 xDrive35i - $106,900
- BMW X5 xDrive40d - $115,900
- BMW X5 xDrive50i - $133,900
- BMW X5 M50d - $147,900