There are two place where cults can be found. One is in religion, the other is in the world of automobiles. Some of us will look at many brands when shopping for a new car. Chevy, Ford, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan all will be in the mix. There are some people though who will never stray from a brand, wouldn’t think of it, no way, no how. A Lexus owner will always be a Lexus owner, a Cadillac owner will always be a Cadillac owner.
So it goes with the Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the Bavarian Motor Works or the brand commonly known as BMW; BMW owners are the loyal sort and would never think of straying from the fold. They of course have good reason, like Mercedes, the Germans at BMW know how to make fine autos. The quality, the performance and the overall experience is well worth the price.
For those of us who aren’t BMW loyalists however the experience may not exactly leave us breathless. That point is being made because recently we were given the opportunity to spend a week with a 2014 BMW X5 the sDrive35i crossover, although the Germans like to call it a “Sports Activity Vehicle” which we suspect sounds cooler in the native language. According to BMW though the SAV is a new segment in the industry; we would argue that point since the vehicle we had really did seem more like a crossover SUV.
There is one thing we can’t argue though, this is a well made machine. The fit is tight, the components are of the highest quality and the drive is very nice. However, to be truthful there was nothing that made us go “wow”. Unlike say the Lexus IS 350 F-Sport or the RX350, there seems nothing that shouts “Let’s go drive!” This is not necessarily a bad thing , just a point in fact. Well built, yes, but very vanilla. Of course the Germans aren’t known for anything flashy so we guess that’s to be expected.
For 2104 BMW made a few changes to the X5; the exterior changes include a more sloped nose, something that an owner of a 2012 X5 we queried said he didn’t like. Inside however the current X5 owner said there seemed to be more room and the screen in the center console was much bigger, something he liked a great deal. Our model had the 3.0 liter turbocharged inline 6, which is rated at 302 horsepower at 5000 RPM with 295 lbs of torque at 1200 RPM all mated to an 8-speed transmission. Perhaps we weren’t aggressive enough in our driving, but we never felt as though we got any sort of extra power out of the engine. Sure it’s fine for everyday use, and navigating through traffic isn’t an issue, we just never got put back in the seat when taking off.
BMW says the new design incorporates a wider stance and thus handling is improved. They are correct; the X5 seems glued to the road and aggressive cornering shows very little body roll. And when called upon the engine at speed responds crisply. Also new for 2014 is the newly-standard Start-Stop system (which as we found in other vehicles is a bit annoying), 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 Servotronic speed-sensitive power steering.
All this is very nice, but like some others, the touchpad is hard to use and the round joystick along with the menu buttons on the center console can be confusing and a bit aggravating to figure out. That doesn’t mean that an owner can’t figure it out given time, but a week like we had isn’t enough time to figure it out, which truth be told left us a bit frustrated.
Overall the week spent with the X5 was a pleasant one. The power was more than adequate, the interior room very spacious the gauges well laid out and easy to read and the ride smooth. Interior noise was minimal and the view from the driver’s seat commanding. However, at the end of the week there was nothing memorable about the experience; the fuel mileage was average (we got 23 MPG in mixed conditions) the drive great but nothing to leave us with an adrenaline rush or wanting to jump back in behind the wheel or look forward to the return trip.
Sure this a fine machine, and those who buy only BMW will snap them up, and while it is a great example of how a quality automobile should be built, there was nothing that stood out. In a crowded marketplace the BMW X5 quietly sits waiting its turn. The marketing folks at BMW may call their brand the “Ultimate driving machine” and while it is very good, ultimately for us the X5 just another well built driving machine.
The 2014 BMW X5 sDrive 35i
Base MSRP: $52,800
MSRP (as tested): $55,875
MPG (Estimated): 19 city, 27 highway, 22 combined
MPG (As tested): 23 mpg
Engine (as tested): Turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve 3.0-liter inline-6, rated at 302 hp, and 295 lb-ft torque.
Transmission: 8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode (Console).
Wheelbase: 115.5 in
Length: 193.2 in
Width: 76.3 in Height: 69.4 in
Curb weight: 4680
Interior Dimensions (Inches)
Shoulder width front: 60.5
Shoulder width rear: 58.3
Legroom front: 40.4
Legroom rear: 36.6
Max. headroom front:40.5
Max. headroom rear38.8
Luggage comp. capacity: 66
Basic: 4 Years/50,000 Miles
Drivetrain: 4 Years/50,000 Miles
Corrosion: 12 Years/Unlimited Miles
Roadside Assistance: 4 Years/Unlimited Miles
Maintenance: 4 Years/50,000 Miles