February 25, 2009
Somehow we've managed to go through almost a year in a BMW without really ever talking much about the steering system. Compared to almost any steering system in anything with a remote resemblance to a sport-utility vehicle, the X5's is fantastic.
If that seems like damning with faint praise, it wasn't meant to. But neither is the X5's system entirely faultless. It's nearly perfect on the expressway when a little heft and a relatively slow ratio off-center result in a steady, composed demeanor -- exactly what you want for high-speed runs.
Around town, though, that weight seems unnecessary and unwelcome. Now, we're not talking heavy like the old days of non-assisted steering here. But it will come as a surprise to the uninitiated. And, as on most crossover/SUV things the ratio isn't particularly quick, even though the standard X5 system uses a variable-ratio rack that quickens the response the farther from center you guide it. But the weight combined with the relatively slow ratio and the X5's bulk can still mean a whole lot of work in parking situation.
If there's one vehicle in BMW's lineup that could genuinely benefit from the company's Active Steering system, it's the X5. At speeds up to 55 mph Active Handling uses a quick ratio that results in only two turns lock-to-lock -- giving the driver more turning response for a given input. At higher speeds the system uses a slower ratio to maintain stability. We don't really care for the system on the nimble 3-series.
But if you're in the market for an X5 we would say you should test drive one with Active Handling and one without. It is a stand-alone option which cost $1,400 for the 2008 model like ours. It's since gone up to $1,550.
--Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit
February 24, 2009
Professional driver. Closed course. Hey you stupid, don't try this at home.
Fourthings. One: The X5 is dead stable at these speeds, although there is a fair amount of wind noise. Two: No Tahoe or Flex or Enclave or SRX or Durango can approach a buck fifty, so there's still something special about the X5 and other performance minded German utes like the Cayenne. Although I'm sure a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 could swing it. Three: It was a steep downhill. Four: With my foot to the floor, the computer said mileage at this velocity was 7 mpg.
Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief
November 07, 2008
This morning I woke up especially early for no particular reason so I decided I to just go to work. I hate time change, it's like jet lag while staying home.
I don't know if it was due to the X5's massive engine or that people weren't caffeinated just yet, but I every time I punched the gas from a traffic light I left my fellow commuters in my dust trail by massive margins.
The X5 is nice to your ego.
Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer
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
March 18, 2008
Most SUVs take to our track like I would take to attending a taping of "Dancing with the Stars." Actually, on second thought I don't think it's possible for an automobile to perform ritual suicide. Anyway, the BMW X5 has always been a different animal, with better-than-the-pack handling and an overall character tuned definitively for the road. The numbers our long-term X5 generated at the track back that up, but they are far from the abilities of a 5 Series wagon.
For comparison, the slalom and skidpad numbers are virtually identical to those of the last Acura MDX we tested, but a fair bit better than our long-term Cadillac SRX. The X5 brakes and acceleratesbetter than both, although with its V8, the latter comes as no surprise. I'm eager to see how the new Infiniti FX50 will stack up when it arrives in our garage shortly.
UPDATE: Turns out I have a horrible memory and we actually did get video that day (we just did it after testing). Because of certain technical issues, I've dropped in the video links below rather than embedding video. Forgive me.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 2,035 miles
0-30 - 2.6 seconds
0-45 - 4.8 seconds
0-60 - 7.1 seconds
0-75 - 10.5 seconds
1/4 mile - 15.4 seconds @ 92.3 mph
Senior Road Test Editor Josh Jacquot: "Although frustrating, at first I like the X5's new shifter ... Forward for downshifts, backward for upshifts ... just like it should be. Engine is smooth and sounds great, but wouldn't be half as impressive with one less gear."
60-0 - 123 feet
30-0 - 31 feet
Jacquot: "These are impressive braking numbers -- especially for a non Sport Package X5. Pedal feel and response remained consistent throughout."
Jacquot: "Heavy steering is very noticeable on skidpad as well as in slow maneuvering."
Jacquot: "Stability control is always on, but works well. Approach the X5's limits carefully without blowing through them and it seems BMW's stability control is very effective at achieving the driver's goals. It goes where it's pointed. Get stupid, however, and all is lost to the electronics and physics."