Reviews

2017 BMW X5 Driving Impressions


BMW’s full-fledged SUV scores highly in both on- and off-road talents. Regardless of engine, useful power will never be in short supply, despite the X5’s hefty curb weight. It’s hard to imagine anyone being disappointed with the six-cylinder engine. Then again, the twin-turbo 445-horsepower V8, yielding 480 pound-feet of torque, unleashes a profound surge to satisfy those who crave even greater force. Fitted with plentiful sound-deadening material, the xDrive50i delivers its vigor in a civilized, drama-free manner.

If raucous behavior is the goal, BMW offers the costly but quick X5 M, boosting V8 output to 567 horsepower and shrinking 0-60 mph time to four seconds.

Behavior of the xDrive40e plug-in hybrid system varies according to its settings. In MAX eDrive, the X5 hybrid is propelled solely by electricity, unless you floor the accelerator pedal. AUTO eDrive lets the gasoline engine engage more often. Performance is strong, pleasant and quiet, though an occasional rough shift might occur.

Selecting Eco Pro mode retards throttle responses, provokes earlier upshifts, and lets the X5 coast at times, by disconnecting the engine. The system can even choose certain routes that promise peak fuel-efficiency.

In Eco Pro and Comfort modes, steering feedback is limited, and on-center feel could be better. Sport and Sport+ modes provide greater heft, in keeping with BMW tradition. Optional Active Steering varies the ratio in accord with speed and cornering force.

BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive splits engine torque front to rear, interacting with traction- and stability-control systems. To help with off-roading, an LCD screen can show exactly how power is apportioned between the wheels.

Visibility is excellent, and available surround-view cameras can ease parking. BMW’s Parking Assistant goes further, able to steer the X5 into parallel or perpendicular parking spots by touching a button. Also available is Traffic Jam Assistant, which helps keep the X5 in its lane, at a proper distance from the vehicle ahead.

Fuel economy is on the weak side, even for a heavy SUV. The rear-drive X5 sDrive35i is EPA-rated at 18/25 mpg City/Highway, or 21 mpg Combined. Adding all-wheel drive drops the highway estimate to 24 mpg. As expected, picking the twin-turbo V8 slashes EPA ratings to 15/21 mpg City/Highway, or 17 mpg Combined. The 2016 plug-in hybrid managed a 24 mpg Combined rating using gasoline, and 56 MPGe when blending electric and gas operation.

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