February 27, 2009
In a bid to appear like responsible adults we ordered the $1,200 third-row seats option on our long-term X5 instead of the monster 20-inch-wheels option. They are mutually exclusive options.
We're not saying it was a mistake, per se. But we can say that if we were buying an X5 for personal use we'd save ourselves the $1,200. And if we really needed three rows of seats, we wouldn't even consider the X5.
The two folding mini-buckets in the way-back are simply not very useful. But what about kids, you say? Well, there are no Latch attachments for the third row which would mean you'd have to use the old-school belts. And beside, we think some of our child-safety seats are bigger than the X5's third-row buckets. Although the kids would at least get an HVAC vent and a couple of cupholders back there.
And what about cramming adults back there, just for short trips? Stop being ridiculous. We crawled back there and it hurt. We don't dislike anyone that much -- certainly not anyone we'd allow into our car. Even employees of BMW North America will admit that offering the third row in the X5 was simply a marketing exercise and not a particularly useful option.
During it's stay with us the X5's rear-most seats remained folded into the floor basically always. There they added weight and cost and became the locus of resentment for staffers who really wanted the big, meaty rear tires.
-- Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit at 26,358 miles
February 13, 2009
Despite the widespread availability of airplane flights between Detroit and Chicago on which I could fly to the Chicago Auto Show, I make an annual habit of tempting the weather gods and hitting I-94 for a little bonding time with whatever I car I happen to be driving in early February.
January 16, 2009
Turns out, the boys (and girls) from California left Detroit just in time. A deep freeze has settled into the Upper Midwest. I hopped in my new winter-approved long-termer, the X5, this morning to find that the temperature read-out registering -4. That's not on any kind of wimpy Celsius scale. No, no, it's the big F, my frigid friend.
So you'll excuse me if I don't really care at the moment about ride or build quality or acceleration or any operational aspect of the X5, other than those involved with creating and disseminating heat. And that brings me to the BMW's seat heaters, which are simply magnificent. I have long held that if I can't make myself uncomfortably hot with seat heaters then they are just not powerful enough. I want the extra margin of heat on top of what is comfortable just, you know, just in case. And the three-step BMW units will absolutely toast your buns. And it is mornings like this one that convince me that a heated steering wheel is not a frivolous thing, but indeed, a near-necessity. You activate that separate from the seat heat, by pressing the spoke-mounted button with a pictogram of what looks like a steering wheel with an exceptionally hairy hub.
Hell, I would advocate the implementation of some sort of electro-shall with detachable ear muffs and maybe some plug-in leggings with booties. Although I would settle for a heated tunnel between my back door and the office.
--Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit at 25,037 miles
October 28, 2008
I just spent about a week in the X5. I like it, the transmission is too jerky (first is too short)but otherwise it's a comfortable SUV.
On a three hour road trip, I noticed there are too many levers - short levers, long levers, levers with, with switches ontop of the levers - I felt like an antebellum riverboat captain bleeding off steam as I adjust the steering wheel, set the cruise control and check the outside temperature. Maybe GM's cruise/turn/high beam stalk isn't so bad after all. Anyone think I'm full of it?
Brian Moody, Road Test Editor.
August 20, 2008
Big Bear Lake, CA
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, CA
In the last 10 days I've driven our long-term 2008 BMW X5 1,016 miles. Aside from a few days of my basic 8 mile (each way) commute, the mileage was accumulated on two family road trips.
The first trip was from West Los Angeles to the mountain resort town of Big Bear Lake about 120 miles northeast. To get there you run about 85 miles or so of freeway and 35 miles of twisting and turning mountain roads. The second trip was from West Los Angeles to Monterey, California about 350 miles due north, and it can be as much freeway and as much two lane as you want, depending on how much day you want to eat on the journey.
After that much time in the X5 I'm sold on BMW's now larger sport utitlity. It's fast, comfortable and just spacious enough for the Oldham clan to pile in. It's also really fast on a mountain road. In the BMW tradition is offers far more grip, grunt and brakes than my family would allow me to use on the twisty bits. And it cruises at 100 mph like a German sports sedan.
I'm also amazed at the X5's high comfort. I spent seven hours in it yesterday driving home from Monterey. We took the long way, hitting Highway 1 down to Big Sur before taking Highway 46 east to the 101 south. Even after all that, I arrived home ready for more. No backache. No buttache. No numb legs. My wife and kids too.
It's not perfect; the transmission locks out top gear in sport mode, iDrive is complete madness and mileage is what anybody should expect from a V8 powered tank like this; 18.5 mph on the highway, 13.3 mpg in the city and 16.2 mpg in mixed conditions. Oh yeah, pack your gas card baby. Still, no Buick Enclave will ever be this much fun.
This is a fine vehicle, and it's a true BMW, as engaging and beautifully built as it is useful.
Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 16,125 miles
July 07, 2008
Sure our 2008 BMW X5 is a city dweller, and sure it's probably more suited to the racetrack (we did order the sport package) than the unpaved road, but what the heck, lets go off roading.
Okay, so it's not exactly the Rubicon, but a good hour of this deep silt had our X5 workin'. To keep moving we had the stability control system off and the truck's big 4.8-liter V8 near the top of the tach. Never got stuck, though, and the truck's all-wheel drive system never tried to eat itself or lock up in befuddlement.
We also have high praise for the Beamer's air conditioning, expecially its recirculation featurewhich kept the dust and the 105 degree desert heat on the truck's outside.
Tune tomorrow when I actually try to put a full grown human being in the X5's third row seat.
Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 12,936 miles
May 30, 2008
I'm sure everybody has experienced the unpleasantness of getting into a parked car that's been sitting out on a hot summer day. For the X5, BMW offers an iDrive-based feature to help alleviate the unpleasantness.
You can program the X5 to turn on its climate control fan (to draw in fresh air) at a set time. For example: say you've gone shopping at the mall and know you'll be done about 5 p.m... You can set the fan to turn on at 4:35 p.m. so that the interior will be much cooler when you get back.
Though I wasn't able to fully test the effectiveness of the feature, it does indeed blow low-speed air through the vents when activated.
It occurred to me that this is a feature that only becomes possible when a car has a control interface as powerful as iDrive. It also occured to me that you're not exactly out of luck if your car doesn't have automatic venting -- just crack open the windows an inch.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
March 27, 2008
I have cold hands. Back when I used to live in cold climates, they would belike freezer packsfrom about November to April -- big hit with girlfriends. Although California has improved the situation, my hands still get a little cold and unlike Indiana or Toronto, I'd look like a moron if I went around Santa Monica with gloves on.
While managing editor Donna DeRosa loves herself some heated seats for a wonky back, I found myself just as happy with our X5's heated steering wheel included in the $900 Cold Weather Package that also features Donna's heated front seats, a ski bag and retractable headlight washers... Unlike a few other heated steering wheels I've come across, the X5's doesn't roast your hands, it provides gentle warmth. It'slikedriving with your hands on a cup of tea, which I'm actuallydoing in the midst oftyping this.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 4,165 miles
March 17, 2008
Yes, I've been hogging the X5.
But it's such a pleasant car to drive. It's comfy, it's cozy and it allows you to make other motorists on the freeway a distant memory in the rear-view mirror.
I drove it down to Costa Mesa this weekend to the Orange County Performing Arts Center -- a beautiful place, if you've never been there... I tried to take a picture of the X5 outside the modern façade, but alas, my camera didn't cooperate with the bright lights vs. night sky atmosphere. So I went artistic with PhotoShop.
I used the navigation system to guide me there, even though it's super easy to find being right off the I-405. But I wanted to see how it behaved. It suggested a different route to the freeway than I would normally take, which saved me some time. It's always nice to find alternate routes in L.A., even if they only save you 5 minutes. The audio guidance was off and I didn't bother to put it on. The map clearly led me through each step of my journey.
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 4,100 miles