BMW, X5, 2009: The Weekly Driver Car Review

James Raia

bmw1With its 2009 model, the BMW X5 enters its second decade as the manufacturer’s first mid-size crossover sport utility vehicle. It doesn’t warrant legendary status, but with some of rivals, the Lexus RX300 and Mercedes M-Class, the X5 represented the switch in SUVs from truck-based to sedan-based crossover vehicles now prevalent in the category.

The Weekly Driver Ratings

Acceleration (6)
Steady as it goes. It’s not the fastest SUV, but the 3.0-liter, 24-valve, 260-horsepower doesn’t waste any time, either. There’s also a 4.8-liter, 350-horsepower, V8. It wasn’t test, but it likely gets the job done with a quicker acceleration and obviously heavier duty power.

Braking/Steering/Handling (6)
Three of BMW’s finer traits. The X5 exudes confidence on the open road. But it’s a good thing a friend’s wife drives an X5. When I mentioned the stiffness of the car’s steering, he mentioned the dealership where his wife’s car was purchased offered steering adjustments at the time of purchase. That’s good to know.

Cargo Room (6)
Lots of small side storage compartments and a cavernous area under the rear bed’s floor mats. A dozen bags of groceries? Now worries. Most SUVs can handle that load. But during a weekend excursion to the lumber store, I loaded two 10x4s in the cabin. They fit while cinched between the backseat TV screen. With the tailgate secure, the wood touched the front windshield, but it fit.

Controls (6)
High quality material and ideally positioned on the console, but temperature gauges and radio control button and dials aren’t intuitive. Like many European-influenced vehicles in the past few years, the X5 has a few too many controls. It’s beautiful, but not beautifully practical. One annoyance: the safety sensors indicating something or someone is nearby are too sensitive.

Details (7)
BMW is a prideful Germany automaker. But all X5s are now manufactured in Spartanburg, South Carolina. It doesn’t mean the BMW doesn’t have German craftsmanship. It does and the iconic BMW look is still readily apparent in the interior, trim and overall design.

Front Seats (7)
Good leg room and multiple adjusting positioning (including adjustable thigh support). Headrests provide the X5’s largest issue – obscured vision at several side and rear view locations.

Fuel Economy (3)
Luxury, heavy vehicle means it’s from any consideration of “being green.” Premium fuel is recommended that only makes the 15 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway harder to accept.

Quietness (7)
This is another strong BMW trait. Roll up windows, crank up the sound system and how sweet is the open road. Opt for no music and the silence provides stress relief.

Rear Seats (5)
Comfortable for two adults and small child. But three adults are snug. Leg room and head room are satisfactory, but BMW could have done better.

Ride Quality (6)
With its various included options, it’s a $60,000 vehicle and without the complete list of plentiful bells and whistles, it’s a $50,000 car. It should provide comfort, security and confidence in all with or without its options. It does.

Total (59 out of 100 )

Class — Premium midsize SUV.

Primary competition —  Aura MDX, Lexus RX, Porsche Cayenne.

Standard equipment — (Interior) 3.0L, 260-horsepower DOHC 24-valve I6 engine, Electric water pump & volume-controlled oil pump, Direct ignition system w/knock control, 6-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, xDrive full-time all-wheel drive system w/front/rear torque split, Electronically controlled engine cooling, Double wishbone multi-link front suspension -inc: aluminum thrust plate, coil springs, Integral 4-link rear suspension, Front/rear stabilizer bars, Twin-tube gas-pressure shocks, Variable-ratio constant-assist power steering, 4-wheel ventilated power disc brakes, Electromechanical parking brake, Dual exhaust system, Toolkit.

Exterior — 18″ x 8.5″ star spoke alloy wheels (style 210), P255/55HR18 run-flat all-season tires
Panoramic moonroof, Roof rails, Rear roof spoiler w/separation edges, Body-color bodyside cladding, Matte-black side window frame trim, BMW kidney grille w/black vertical bars, Xenon headlights
Automatic headlights w/rain sensor, Adaptive light control, auto headlight control, cornering lights, Front fog lights, Adaptive brake lights, Body-color & black power heated mirrors -inc: 3-position memory, passenger reverse auto-tilt-down, Rain-sensing windshield wipers w/heated washer jets, Variable intermittent rear window wiper w/washer, Body-color door handles, 2-piece tailgate w/soft-close feature.

Features — Leatherette seat trim, 10-way power front seats , 2nd row split-folding seats, Removable flashlight, dual storage compartments w/lids & armrests, accessory power outlet, Front/rear floor mats, Leather-wrapped power tilt/telescopic multi-function steering wheel, Electronic analog speedometer & tachometer, LCD main & trip odometers, Power windows, Central locking system, Remote keyless entry, Dynamic cruise control, Remote tailgate release, Anti-theft alarm system w/interior motion detector Vehicle & key memory, Enhanced coded driveaway protection, Dual-zone automatic climate control , Rear window defroster, Power upper & lower locking gloveboxes, Front/rear cupholders, Dark burl walnut wood trim, Storage compartments in all four doors, Dual front sun visors w/illuminated vanity mirrors, BMW ambiance lighting, Courtesy lights, Seatback storage compartments Fully finished cargo with power outlet, retractable/removable cover, (4) tie-downs.

Safety — 4-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS), Dynamic stability control (DSC), Interlocking side-impact intrusion beams, Programmable daytime running lights, 2-stage dual front smart airbags w/dual-threshold deployment, Front passenger OC3 seat-occupation recognition, Front side-impact airbags, Front/rear head protection system, TeleService activation, Advanced crash safety management -inc: unlock doors, hazard lights on, battery safety terminal (disconnects starter, alternator & fuel pump), All-position 3-point safety belts w/belt force limiters, Front safety belt pretensioners, Child safety rear door locks, LATCH attachments for 2nd row outboard seats, Tire pressure monitor.

For more standard equipment/option package information, visit: www.bmwusa.com.

Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price — $47,100.00.

Price As Driven —  $59,120.

Mileage Estimates — 15 mpg (city), 21 mpg (hwy).

Warranty — Bumper-to-bumper, 4 years/50,000 miles; Corrosion, 12 years/unlimited miles; Roadside assistance, 4 years/50,000 miles; Free scheduled maintenance, 4 years/50,000 miles.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words

“The BMW has all the keen attributes of the brand, solid on the open road, beautifully designed inside and out. But it’s not perfect and just like with any higher end SUV, it’s hard to know in what car-buying segment the X5 fits. For me, luxury SUV sounds like a contradiction or it should be.”

Article Last Updated: May 26, 2009.

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