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2014 BMW X5 xDrive35d first drive review: New on new

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The name’s the same, but the game is new. It’s a new era for the BMW X5, and even more so for the 2014 BMW xDrive35d.

Like the rest of the new generation X5, the 2014 BMW xDrive35d has exterior styling that looks rather like the one it replaces, at least it does until they’re parked side by side. Then the 2014 has the sleeker but wider look of the two, thanks in part to its BMW heritage quad headlights with a lowered brow, making its predecessor look wide-eyed and innocent. The twin-kidney grille of the new X5, too, has also gained a forward tilt for a more aggressive look.

It’s not all appearances, however, as the 2014 X5 models adopts BMW’s new aerodynamics tricks. Vertical slits at either end of the X5’s lower front apron send air to “Air Curtains,” which direct air out and around the front wheels, forming an aero dam reducing turbulence around the tires and wheels to decrease aerodynamic drag. On the back side of the wheel opening and exiting through the front fenders are “Air Breathers,” also reducing drag.

Altogether, the changes to the 2014 BMW X5’s body have produced a remarkable coefficient of drag of .31, as sleek as many cars, and a contributor to the X5’s high fuel economy numbers, from 19 city/27 highway mpg for the 2014 BMW X5 sDrive35i through 18/27 mpg for the all wheel-drive diesel-powered X5 xDrive35d. The latter was borne out by our mixed driving in the low 20s miles per gallon.

That diesel engine is all new. The 3.0-liter engine uses BMW’s TwinPower Turbo technology—with two inlets on a single turbo for more responsive turbo boost—and is rated at 255 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque, the latter spread over 1,500 to 3,000 rpm. That’s down a smidge from its predecessor but the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35d should go 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in about 6.9 seconds, which keeps it right at the outgoing diesel’s time.

Lay into the throttle and the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35d lunges off the line, its 3.0-liter turbodiesel making sounds tuned to a more gasoline motor timbre than the smoky clatter of its oil-burning heritage. A diesel engine has been part of BMW’s full-size SUV lineup since 2010, and it stays aboard as the third generation of the BMW X5 arrives in the fourth quarter 2013.

Actually, not quite. The diesel won’t be in showrooms until the first quarter 2014, but close enough.

The 2014 BMW X5 keeps with the winning formula as it enters the next era, as well it should, as it comprises a third of BMW sales worldwide—all of which are made in BMW’s plant in South Carolina. BMW’s SUV—although BMW insists it’s an SAV, or Sport Activity Vehicle—will see no significant change in underpinnings.

The suspension’s Dynamic Handling Package, however, gains Dynamic Performance Control and also includes Active Roll Stabilization to keep the X5 level going around corners. Dynamic Damper Control and a rear-axle air suspension are also included in the Dynamic Handling Package and also as part of M Sport in the X5, but with more sports-oriented suspension tuning.

New to the lineup is a rear-drive version of the X5, the sDrive35i. Like the continuing X5 x35i, it’s powered by BMW’s 3.0-liter TwinPower turbo inline-6 engine which has its maximum output of 300 horsepower at 5,800 rpm, with max 300 lb-ft torque spread from 1,200 to 5,000 rpm.

The 4.4-liter V-8 engine in the current X5 xDrive50i continues but was given a power boost. The V-8, with its turbochargers tucked in the vee between the banks of the V-8, doesn’t change, but it gains BMW’s Valvetronic variable valve timing and now booms out a maximum 445 horsepower between 5,500 and 6,000 rpm (up by 45 horses). Torque plateaus at 480 lb-ft between 2,000 and 4,500 rpm (an increase of 30 lb-ft over its predecessor).

Pricing for the BMW’s full-size SUV—OK, SAV—begins at $53,725 for the 2014 X5 sDrive35i with the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35i priced at $56,025. The 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35d price is $57,525 and the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive50i begins at $69,125. All prices include $925 destination and handling.

The new prices include newly-standard equipment for the X5 include BMW’s Auto Start-Stop system, BMW’s iDrive4.2 Navigation System with Touchpad, 10 years of BMW Assist eCall service, 10 years of BMW TeleService, BMW Apps, 40-20-40 split-folding rear seat, and now standard Servotronic speed-sensitive power steering.

And yes, the off-the-line grunt of the 3.0-liter diesel engine in the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive35d is a push-you-back-in-the-seat surprise, but while the diesel SAV turns in a respectable 6.8 seconds to sixty, the X5 xDrive50i is snap-your-neck fast, hurtling the big hauler zero-to-60 in just 4.9 seconds. It won’t match the diesel for fuel economy, however, so don’t drive the V-8 if you’re intent on the BMW X5 xDrive35d.

Decisions, decisions.

© John Matras Media LLC

2014 BMW X5 xDrive35d, price and key specifications as tested

Body style/layout: 5-door crossover SUV, front engine/all-wheel drive

Base price: $$57,525

Price as tested: n.a.

Engine

  • Type: 3.0-liter 24-valve DOHC turbocharged diesel I-6
  • Displacement, cc: 2993
  • Block/head material: aluminum/aluminum
  • Compression ratio: 16.0:1
  • Horsepower: 255 @ 5,600-6,400 rpm
  • Torque: 413 @ 1500-3000 rpm
  • Recommended fuel: premium unleaded
  • Fuel economy, EPA est.: 15/23 mpg city/highway
  • Fuel economy, observed: 18.5 and 17.7 mpg

Transmission:8-speed automatic driver-adaptive

Chassis/Suspension

  • Suspension, front/rear: double wishbone / multilink
  • Wheels: 20 x 8.5 / 20 x 9.0-inch alloy
  • Tires: 245/35R20 / 275/30R20
  • Brakes: 4-wheel disc; 13.7-inch dia. front/13.6-inch dia. rear
  • Steering: power rack-and-pinion
  • Turning circle: 38.4 ft.

Dimensions

  • Wheelbase: 112.4 in.
  • Length: 192.8 in.
  • Height: 53.9 in.
  • Width: 74.6 in.
  • Curb weight: 4,233 lbs
  • Trunk volume: 13.0 cu. ft.
  • Fuel tank: 18.5 gal.

Safety

  • Airbags: Front, front side head/torso
  • Anti-lock brakes: Yes Traction control: Yes Stability control: Yes Electronic brake-force distribution: Yes Brake assist: Yes
  • Other: standard brake fade compensation, start-off assistant, brake drying, brake stand-by, incl options, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, side & top view camera, park assistant, active roll stabilization, night vision with pedestrian detection

Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper; 4-year/50,000 mile powertrain;12-year/unlimited-mile corrosion,4-year/50,000-mile scheduled service, 4-year/unlimited-mile roadside assistance

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