I tested the BMW X5 3.0 (too small, slow), the X5 4.8 (fast, too expensive!), the Lexus RX (nice, not sporty enough). This vehicle is a big step up from the '02 model: more power, better handling (doesn't feel a bit like a mini-van anymore), more creature comforts and roughly the same fuel economy. Driver's seat is very comfortable for my 5'-11" frame. The SH-AWD system is terrific as you feel it pull you around sharp turns as you accelerate. Nav. syst. has good display and gives clear and adjustable directions (from almost constant advice to concise directions). Hands Free Link hooks up to B/tooth c-phone on startup, sound system automatically switches to phone when called.
SH-AWD is great. The engine is very responsive if a bit rough at hi-rpm. The manual shifter is great for rapid acceleration, engine breaking downhill, and holding the proper gear on uphill grades (a 6 speed would be better). The 3-zone climate control great for warm driver with a cold passenger.
HFLink: only Sony-Ericsson c-phones are fully compatible,the voice recog. is poor. The iPod link (loose cable in glove box, funky voice-and-button control) should use Nav disp. operated by the knob. Ebony int. too dark. Nav unaware of a 2 yr. old hwy.-update costs $185. Odd grille. Full size spare.