The bridge gap

2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i Review

By Mathieu St-Pierre
2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i Review

Summary Rating: 83%

Styling

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Accessories

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Space and Access

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Comfort

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Performance

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Driving Dynamics

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Safety

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General Appreciation

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SUVs and CUVs are a fad in constant evolution. Unlike the minivan that is, well, a minivan, the utility vehicles can and do morph into many things from family movers to performance cars.

The BMW X5 is one of the first SUVs to have successfully blended its utility aspect with that of a sport sedan over 15 years ago. Now in its 3rd generation, the X5 continues to be a popular choice for buyers looking for all that a vehicle can offer, namely a real driving experience, luxury and the all-important panache that comes with buying a BMW product.

This latest iteration puts the emphasis on being posh over all-out performance, unless you select the X5 M, of course. Be that as it may, the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i remains a solid driver’s SUV that is as good to drive, as it is to look at. The competition has caught up though…


What is a BMW X5?

The 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i is the Bavarian brand’s kingpin CUV-SUV, towering above the X3 and X1 below it. First introduced in 1999 as a 2000 model-year, like most newly introduced luxury utility vehicles at the time the X5 took off, and as a sales hero filled BMW’s coffers with lots of money.

The 2014 BMW X5 is fresh from a near-complete makeover that has seen the Sport Activity Vehicle grow ever so slightly longer, wider, and taller.

2014 BMW X5 Price and Specs

To call a 2014 X5 xDrive35i your own, you must part with $62,900. This “pedestrian-level” X5 can and will likely be enhanced by numerous packages as demonstrated by my tester. Slathered with the Premium, Technology, ConnectedDrive, and Bang&Olufsen audio system, the total topped at $77,590.

Available versions also include the $64,400 xDrive35d (diesel) and the $76,500 xDrive50i.

The 2014 35i features a TwinPower turbo 3.0L I6 good for 300 horsepower and equal torque. The 35d rolls with a 3.0L I6 turbo diesel (255 horsepower 413 lb-ft of torque). The monster 50i uses a Turbo 4.4L V8 that mashes out 445 horsepower and 479 torques. All wear an 8-speed autobox and run BMW xDrive AWD systems (rear-wheel biased).

2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i 3/4 view
First introduced in 1999 as a 2000 model-year, like most newly introduced luxury utility vehicles at the time the X5 took off, and as a sales hero filled BMW’s coffers with lots of money. (Photo: BMW)

Driving the 2014 BMW X5

As an SUV/CUV/SAV, the BMW X5 delivers on every front where driving is involved. It all begins under the bonnet. The turbocharged I6, offered in BMW products for over 8 years (in various states), still hovers at or near the top of my favourite 6-cylinder engine list.

The efficiency at which this mill dispenses its energy is what is most surprising. At 2,173 kg, the X5 will still shoot to 100km/hr in just over 6.6 seconds. The inline-6 sound that rushes through the cabin is muscular, as is boost and torque. With no lag and no hesitation from the transmission, the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i makes light of passing and accelerating. Imagine, for a moment, what it must be like with the V8…

All good BMWs make use of a suspension calibrated for handling with little or no sacrifice where ride comfort is concerned. In this X5’s case, the compromise was on the “little” side. I found uneven road surfaces to upset the big Bimmer’s serenity far more than I had anticipated. The rather short amount of wheel travel seemed to be the culprit, at least in part.

By the same token, I could wrap myself around a corner or clip an apex and make fun of a 5-year-old Mustang and a late model Civic… With this taut suspension ties in steering that is the best in the segment. On-centre feel is tight and response to inputs is nearly immediate. Likewise, I have to love the brakes, which react with more ferocity than their size and vocation would indicate.

All of this is laudable, but where the 2014 BMW X5 used to sit taller on it wheels than its competition, it hasn’t evolved enough to be the best “truck” with these qualities in 2014, no matter how good it is.

2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i rear 3/4 view
The efficiency at which this mill dispenses its energy is what is most surprising. At 2,173 kg, the X5 will still shoot to 100km/hr in just over 6.6 seconds. (Photo: BMW)

Inside and Out of the BMW X5
Initially, I was left cold by the 2014 X5’s new look. When I finally came face-to-face with it, my mind changed. Yet, it changed again when I got to spend an entire week with it.

Like the drive, the Bimmer’s physical progress seems timid. Sure, some of its character lines are bolder and crisper than before, but it’s not the strapping young buck it once was. The Mercedes M-Class has gone all “dynamic” in the last little while, as has the Porsche Cayenne.

The cabin is also a watered down evolution from the 2nd generation X5, but it somehow works far better. A BMW interior is rich in craftsmanship and materials, and is always luxurious. With enough familiarity, navigating the 2014 BMW X5’s multiple menus becomes simple enough. The HMI experience is generally good or on par with the competition.

The new seats are impressively well sorted for support and comfort. Room abounds in both rows, and the truck is spacious enough for most “normal” applications.

2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i cabin
A BMW interior is rich in craftsmanship and materials, and is always luxurious. With enough familiarity, navigating the 2014 BMW X5’s multiple menus becomes simple enough. (Photo: BMW)

Comparing the 2014 BMW X5
The BMW X5 faces some very intense competition from all of its German brethren. The Mercedes M-Class, the Porsche Cayenne, the Audi Q7, and the Volkswagen Touareg are the ones I’m talking about. From elsewhere, we find the Cadillac SRX and Infiniti QX70, and there are more.

In the X5’s price range, choice is the issue. The BMW deserves a test drive, but may not be the one you sign for -- unless the logo means a lot to you. In that case, it’s irreplaceable.

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